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38 A commuter vanpool program selection with pre- They were not aware that any statistics were available from recorded general information and an option to transfer ADOT on the transit aspects of the 511 and expressed no par- to Valley Metro's customer service. ticular interest in such information. Valley Metro reported A regional light rail selection that provides prerecorded that they have not changed how they market their customer information on when service is expected to begin and is services to their customers. followed by two submenu options: Valley Metro does cite benefits of 511 participation. These A light rail construction selection with an option to trans- benefits include providing an easy-to-remember phone num- fer to Valley Metro's customer service and ber (especially for tourists and visitors) as a way to maintain A community involvement program selection with an and strengthen relationships with other agencies involved in option to transfer to Valley Metro's customer service. 511, and a way to garner lessons learned that could impact how they operate their own telephone information system. Valley Metro reports that although they have the ability to Valley Metro indicated that the performance of the 511 provide floodgate information on service disruptions, they do system's voice recognition was a major concern early on, but not use this feature because inputting and updating that in- they believe that it has been improved to an acceptable level. formation is a fairly labor-intensive, manual process (calling Valley Metro does not view the 511 system as an alterna- into the 511 system and recording the information). As part tive to their own IVR system, which they continue to operate of the Arizona 511 National Model Deployment, Valley and enhance. They feel that with a well-established transit Metro planned to provide real-time estimates on bus arrival customer base already familiar with Valley Metro's customer times for some of their bus rapid transit (BRT) stops. This service phone number and system, and given the assumption was never done because they were unable to find a way to get that most callers will ultimately want to transfer to a Valley the proprietary formatted bus status information from the Metro operator, there is no point in unnecessarily inconve- Valley Metro fleet management system into 511. niencing their customers by routing them through 511. They also noted the significant expense and effort that Valley Metro Rationale for participation. Valley Metro cited a num- has put in over the years to deeply establish their own cus- ber of motivations for participating in the statewide 511 sys- tomer service phone number in the minds of their customers. tem, including the following: They did state that for transit agencies just starting out, or those that had no telephone infrastructure of their own, the Wanting to "keep a place at the table" and be a part of the regional 511 system could substitute. multimodal, multi-agency system; Wanting to be a good and supportive partner of the 511 Issues. Valley Metro cited no significant issues or con- deployer and operator (ADOT); cerns regarding their participation in 511. Wanting to provide their customers with an easy-to- remember phone number; and Outlook. Overall, Valley Metro views their experience Wanting a means to garner lessons learned that could be with 511 positively and plans to continue to participate in the useful to the operation of their own IVR system. system indefinitely. They report that "overall, 511 is a good investment and it brought transit to the table." Valley Metro Valley Metro noted only one concern with 511 that they strongly encourages other transit agencies to explore the op- considered before participation. This concern was the pos- tion of participating in their area's 511 system, at least as an sible inconvenience that their customers could experience additional way to reach customers, especially tourists and vis- when calling 511, only to find out that they would have to itors, and as a means to strengthen relationships with other transfer in order to speak with a Valley Metro CSR. They agencies involved in 511. "didn't want customers to have to wade through a lot of needless menu options." El Dorado Transit (Sacramento, California, Area) Impacts. Valley Metro has not had to contribute to the cost of developing or operating and maintaining the statewide El Dorado Transit provides local bus service throughout 511 system. The only investments they made, associated with El Dorado County, several commuter routes, and paratran- their 511 participation, is the staff time to attend meetings and sit service for people with disabilities. In Fiscal Year (FY) work with ADOT. Transfers out of the 511 system to Valley 2006, El Dorado's annual, systemwide ridership was about Metro are all paid for by ADOT. 325,000. (36) Valley Metro noted no changes in the volume of calls com- As a small agency, El Dorado Transit has an informal call ing in to their phone system as a result of 511 participation. center. Dispatchers handle the requests for dial-a-ride reser-