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32 3.3.2.3 Transit Participation in Relation to 511 include the sophistication and specific approaches used for Deployment Coalition Guidelines overall customer information and call center operations (e.g., technologies and metrics) as well as the extent of involvement The current state of transit participation in 511 is poor in broader, non-511 telephone traveler information systems, relative to the basic, minimum transit participation recom- including websites, highway advisory radio (HAR) and DMS. mended by the 511 Deployment Coalition. The Coalition rec- This section presents the results of that analysis. ommends that every 511 system include every transit agency. However, 22 out of the 42 currently operational 511 systems contain no transit presence, information, or options. Even of 3.3.3.1 Customer Information and those 511 systems that do include transit, most of them do Call Center Approaches not include all of the information and options recommended A number of the questions asked of the transit agency inter- by the Coalition: viewees focused on various aspects of their overall customer information strategy and specific aspects of their call center Some 511 systems with transit information do not include operations. In Chapter 2, a methodology was presented show- a call transfer feature. This is the exception as most 511 sys- ing how the agencies' responses to these questions was used to tems with transit do include a transfer. characterize agencies as either "advanced" or "basic" in regard About half of the 511 systems that include transit do not to a variety of aspects of call center operations. In Section 3.1.3, provide any meaningful general information, such as ser- the advanced versus basic categorization of agencies was exam- vice disruptions, schedules, and fares. ined according to agency size. Here, those agency categoriza- Many of the 511 systems that do include transit agencies do tions are sorted according to whether the agency is integrated not include all of the transit agencies in the region. with 511. Integration is defined for this study as those agencies that have the ability to transfer from the 511 system to the tran- 3.3.2.4 References from 511 Systems to 211 or 311 sit customer information line. There are currently no formal guidelines, like those pro- Table 12 shows that, for most of the call center factors, the duced by the 511 Deployment Coalition, that definitively non-511 integrated agencies were found to be as advanced, or identify how 511 systems should interface or relate to either more advanced, than those that are integrated. The shaded 311 or 211 systems. The FCC designated 211 to be used for rows in Table 9 highlight the results where the expected rela- the locally/regionally operated "community information and tionship between agency size and complexity was strongly referral services" phone systems. The FCC designated 311 to evident, that is, where smaller agencies were less complex than be used for locally/regionally operated, staffed (live operator) larger agencies. phone systems for "non-emergency policy and other govern- There are two potential hypotheses on the relationship ment services" information. Although the exact relationship between transit agency call center sophistication and 511 between 511 and these other "N11" numbers has not yet been integration. The first is that more advanced agencies will determined or recommended, it has been suggested that, at a be more likely to be integrated because participation in 511 minimum, these systems should reference one another. This either requires a certain level of robustness or sophistication is especially true in the case of 511 referencing 211, because in call center technologies and capabilities, or because the many demand-response services are coordinated by the agen- type of agencies that invest in sophisticated call center oper- cies reflected on 211 systems. (32) ations are more likely to experiment with 511 as a new way to Although not every menu option of every operating 511 sys- reach customers. The second hypothesis is the opposite, rea- tem has been explored as part of this study, every main menu soning that the agencies with less advanced call center oper- and most of the transit-related submenu options have been ex- ations are the most likely to integrate with 511. Presumably, plored thoroughly. In that experience, only one linkage to an- this would be because these agencies see 511 as a way to supple- other N11 number was found. Specifically, the New York City ment their own services without having their own after-hours Metro Region portion of the New York statewide 511 system capability, IVR or other more advanced telephone customer includes a call transfer option to New York City's 311 system. service capabilities. The study team's opinion is that these two opposing theo- ries are not supported by the results in Table 12, along with 3.3.3 Differences between 511-Integrated the input from the case studies and the transit agencies, and and Non-Integrated Agencies our own observations of those agencies. Unfortunately, the In addition to documenting the general level of transit limited sample size constrains our ability to draw authorita- agency participation in 511 systems, one objective of Task 2 of tive conclusions. However, on the basis of our conversations this study was to investigate whether transit agencies partici- and visits with more than two dozen agencies, we do not see pating in 511 systems differ from non-participating transit agencies' 511 participation decisions as having anything to do agencies according to several parameters. Those parameters with the relative sophistication or lack thereof of their call