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14 cross-section of information, a small sample of non-transit Table 4. 511 system administrator interview sample. agencies was thought to be useful in complementing informa- 511 Systems tion from the literature review with first-hand information. Type of Transit Content and Features Represented in The original objective was to include one or two additional Interviews 1. Colorado organizations--a large, national, on-line retailer and an inter- 2. Oregon national package delivery service--but repeated attempts to 3. Iowa recruit these organizations were unsuccessful. The overall crite- No Transit Content or Features 4. Washington State 5. Kentucky rion for selecting organizations to interview was to find organ- (statewide system) izations that field a significant number of customer inquiries 6. Alaska 7. North Carolina by phone. The rationale for selecting the specific organizations Only Call Transfers to Transit 8. Georgia that were interviewed was to obtain variation in the size of the 9. Boston/Central MA organizations, the extent to which the telephone is utilized for 10. Utah Call transfers plus additional transit information 11. San Diego customer interaction, public/private status, and type of prod- 12. Arizona uct or service. The non-transit call center interviews utilized the first half of the same questionnaire used for transit agencies (see Ap- fare information, or real-time information (vehicle arrivals/ pendix A)--that is, the 511 questions were omitted. All of the departures). interviews were performed by telephone, in some cases with follow-up phone calls and/or e-mail exchanges to clarify or Table 4 lists the 511 systems represented in the interviews, elaborate responses. All interviewees were provided with the categorized by the type of transit content and features of these questions in advance. Interviews lasted between 45 to 75 min. specific systems. Despite efforts to include more regional sys- tems (there are relatively few), all but two of the interviewees represented statewide 511 systems. Eleven of the twelve 511 2.5 511 System Administrator system administrators represented state departments of trans- Interviews portation; the other administrator represented a metropolitan Although 511 system administrator interviews were not planning organization (MPO). originally included in the study, this activity was added after A discussion guide composed of six primary questions-- it was concluded through the Phase I research activities that several containing a number of follow-up questions--was 511 system administrator policies and decisions were at least developed and sent to each interviewee in advance. The ques- as important in explaining transit agency 511 decisions and tions spanned the following topics: experiences as were factors associated with the transit agen- cies. The Phase I findings were based entirely on informa- How the decision regarding transit content was made, tion collected from transit agencies. Adding interviews with Satisfaction with the current state of the system in regard 511 system administrators was therefore deemed useful to transit content and plans for changes, both to further investigate why and how administrators Transit agency participation in funding 511 system imple- reached their decisions regarding transit but also to validate mentation and/or operation and maintenance, and a finding that was based on only one side of the 511-transit Availability of transit-related 511 system operating statis- relationship. tics (e.g., number of call transfers to transit). A total of twelve 511 system administrators were inter- viewed. The pool of interviewees was systematically con- The twelve 511 system administrator interviews were con- structed so as to include a representative sample of systems. ducted by telephone from November 2008 through January System attributes considered included geographic location, 2009. coverage area (statewide and regional), service area popula- tion density, and type of transit content. A roughly equal 2.6 Transit Rider Focus Group number of systems were represented in each of the following three categories in regard to transit content and features: This activity was added to the study based on the results of the early (Phase I) study findings and at the suggestion of a Systems with no transit content or features; representative of the 511 Deployment Coalition and the Systems with only an option to transfer a call to transit TCRP study panel. At the conclusion of Phase I, a briefing on agency customer service, and interim findings was presented to representatives of U.S. Systems with a call transfer option plus other transit infor- DOT and the 511 Deployment Coalition. One of the major mation such as service disruptions, detailed schedule or findings was that many 511 system administrators have chosen

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15 not to follow the transit-related guidance issued by the 511 ous transit agencies around the country (including those in Deployment Coalition in 2003, which calls for a basic pack- the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, San Diego, Phoenix, and age of transit information and options for every transit agency Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky) the Utah Transit Authority within the 511 service area. The 511 Deployment Coalition (UTA), located in Salt Lake City, was selected. The selection representative indicated that because the commission consid- was based both on practical considerations (they were one ers whether and how to adjust their guidance and/or increase of only two sites interested and willing to participate), as their efforts to encourage 511 system administrators to follow well as the fact that they met the critical, minimum site the current guidance, it would be useful to hear how transit selection criteria established by the study team: the pres- users feel about 511. ence of a mature 511 system that includes the basic UTA infor- With the overall objective being to improve the under- mation and options as recommended by the 511 Deployment standing of transit user perceptions of 511, two specific focus Coalition. group objectives were identified by the study team. The first UTA's interest in assisting the study team with conducting objective was to investigate transit users' perceptions regard- the focus group was based on two key issues. First, UTA was ing those types of transit information that are believed to be in the midst of planning for and deploying, an interactive of most value to travelers (schedules, fares, disruptions, voice response (IVR) system. Second, given that they were a arrival/departure times) and that can be handled effectively by participant in Utah's statewide 511 system, they were inter- an automated telephone information system (that is, without ested in exploring their customers' reactions to the 511 sys- an operator), regardless of whether that system is operated tem. Another benefit to selecting UTA was that the Utah by an individual transit agency or is a 511 system. The second Department of Transportation (UDOT), which operates the objective was to investigate the fundamental rationale for statewide Utah 511 system, was interested in understand- providing transit information on 511. That rationale is ex- ing more about the multimodal aspect of the system, consid- pressed as a series of assumptions shown in Table 5. The first ering what could be done to improve the system, and meet- three items were explicitly noted in the 511 Deployment ing UTA's needs. UDOT participated in a post-focus group Coalition's 2003 guidance; the last two items were identified meeting with the study team and UTA to discuss the results by the study team as presumably part of the overall rationale of the focus group. for transit information on 511. Once the selection was made, UTA's marketing depart- Study resources dictated a single focus group conducted ment recruited focus group participants from their customer in a single location with a local sponsor to recruit partici- service telephone line. Ten participants were recruited to par- pants, provide incentives, and host the focus group. The ticipate in the meeting (six participants actually attended), ideal focus group region, one that would support investiga- which was scheduled to take place from 7:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. tion of the broadest range of issues, was identified as having on January 7, 2009, in Salt Lake City. a variety of transit services and a wide range of transit 511 Prior to conducting the focus group, a discussion guide information content and features. After contacting numer- was developed by the study team and shared with UTA and Table 5. Assumptions investigated in the transit rider focus group. For long-time area residents and/or for newcomers to the area, 511 is easier to remember than a specific transit agency phone number (and newcomers will be at least as likely to be aware of, or learn about, the local 511 system as they would be to learn the phone number for Assumptions specific transit agencies). Identified by the 511 It is easier to market 511 than to market individual transit agency- Deployment Coalition specific information numbers. A significant number of calls made to transit agencies are for information that could be provided entirely via an interactive voice response system such as 511 and do not require talking to an operator (and therefore calls to transit agencies could be reduced). By consolidating information on multiple transit agencies on 511, Other Assumptions callers could avoid having to remember, and call, multiple transit agencies. By consolidating transit and traffic information on a single phone system, callers would be encouraged to do multimodal trip planning and/or those that already do such planning would find the single source of information more useful than making separate calls to traffic and transit information lines.

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16 UDOT to solicit comments. The final discussion guide in- The final focus group discussion guide is included in Ap- cluded questions in the following four categories: pendix B. Since only one focus group was conducted and given the Participants' background information, including how long participants' very limited experience with 511 and the ab- they have been riding UTA and what UTA services they use sence of advanced transit information and features (de- the most; tailed, route-specific schedule information or vehicle arrival/ Participants' use of transit customer information systems, departure information), this focus group activity does not including what information they typically seek and their provide definitive answers to questions about transit users' experience with automated transit information systems; perceptions of 511. However, it does provide some prelim- Participants' experiences with and perspectives on Utah's inary, useful insights that, when combined with feedback 511 system; and that other transit agencies or 511 system administrators may Other participants' questions or comments about 511 or have, or will collect, can be useful in shaping 511-transit transit information by phone. strategies.