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29 non-transit centers to respond to their customers with In the early days of 511, as the very first systems were being personalized information. planned and deployed, the 511 Deployment Coalition devel- Offer more up-to-date information. Non-transit call cen- oped a series of white papers on technical and policy topics to ters often provide very timely and personalized information support the efforts of individual deployers. Over time, those to their customers (e.g., the status of a catalog order). Tran- separate papers were rolled into an overall document entitled, sit agencies can use advanced technologies to increasingly Implementation and Operational Guidelines for 511 Services, provide similar personal and timely information. which has been updated several times. The most recent up- Consider call center/customer information-specific cus- date is Version 3.0, which is dated September 2005. (31) In tomer satisfaction surveying. Transit industry call centers the last several years, with most 511 systems established, there mostly rely on customer surveys conducted by agency mar- has been very little additional guidance developed. keting departments for determining customer needs and The transit-related 511 guidelines in the latest version of preferences. Since the nature and objective of such surveys the Implementation and Operational Guidelines can be sum- can be different and may not cover needs that are specific marized as follows: to call centers, transit call centers should consider con- ducting their own mail or online surveys, similar to those For each transit agency in the region, a 511 system should performed by non-transit industries, to determine needed include, at a minimum, a description of the agency's ser- improvements in call center operations. vice area, schedule and fare information, information about service disruptions, and a connection to the agency's cus- tomer service center. 3.3 Overview of Transit Agency Also recommended--although not included in the "basic Involvement in 511 Systems transit 511 information" category due to the associated This section documents the extent and nature of transit challenges--are regional or corridor-specific transit infor- agency presence on the 511 systems that were operational mation and real-time transit arrival or departure times. as of March 2009, and analyzes transit-related 511 operating A 511 system should work in conjunction with transit agency statistics. The specific 511 experiences of a broad spectrum of customer service centers. A 511 system is not intended to individual transit agencies, those integrated and not integrated replace these operations, but to (1) provide compatible and with 511, are included in the transit agency case studies pre- supplemental information, usually in the form of recorded sented later in this chapter. In order to establish proper context, messages and (2) connect callers to transit agency customer the transit-related portions of the national 511 Deployment service centers, if so desired by the specific agency. Coalition's guidelines for 511 systems is presented before the A 511 system can and should be designed to provide auto- inventory of 511 systems and related information. mated messages that will answer callers' questions prior to seeking assistance from transit customer service center op- 3.3.1 Transit-Related 511 Guidelines from erators. Ideally, thoughtful design will reduce the number the 511 Deployment Coalition of calls to be fielded by transit agency operators, thereby allowing them to handle only the calls that require their The following summary (30) outlining the origin, purpose, expertise and to increase the number of calls they can suc- and organization of the national 511 Deployment Coalition is cessfully manage. taken from the U.S.DOT Joint Program Office web page on 511: Trip planning can be accomplished over an IVR system, like 511, but it is a complex process. An alternative way to Mindful of both the opportunities and challenges 511 presents, provide this service is to provide connections to the transit AASHTO, in conjunction with many other organizations includ- agencies' customer service centers. ing APTA and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), with support from the U.S.DOT, established a 511 Deployment Coalition. The program kicked off in January 2001. 3.3.2 Extent and Type of Involvement A Policy Committee of leading executives from all elements of the transportation and telecommunications sectors has been 3.3.2.1 Operational 511 Systems formed to guide the 511 Coalition. The goal of the 511 Coalition is "the timely establishment of a national 511 traveler information There are 44 operational 511 systems as of March 2009, service that is sustainable and provides value to users." The intent 42 of which are in the United States (there are two Canadian is to implement 511 nationally using a bottom up approach facil- systems, one serving Nova Scotia and one serving Yukon). itated by information sharing and a cooperative dialogue through the national associations represented on the Policy Committee. Figure 8 graphically summarizes the operational status of these The mission of the Policy Committee is to provide guidance on systems nationwide. Most 511 systems cover entire states. how to achieve this goal. Eleven states currently include no 511 systems and have no