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45 it's "too early to tell." (Note that the interview was conducted advice to transit agencies relates to the two issues noted pre- only three months after the system became operational.) In viously, which are (1) plan on devoting significant time to addition to the fact that they have not yet changed their own getting your agency's information into 511 and for general marketing materials to reference 511, NCTD indicated that 511-related planning meetings and (2) in order to make sure Caltrans' park and ride signs still reference the old, pre-511, that the 511 system deployed meets the needs of your region 1-800-COMMUTE system. They feel that both factors could and agency, plan on working closely with the 511 implementers, impact the number of calls to 511. They also noted that mar- who may be inclined to try to apply a 511 system model that keting of the 511 system performed by the 511 sponsor does they've used elsewhere. not target transit users. NCTD expects that there will be some NCTD summed up their motivation for 511 participation of that transit-specific marketing in the future and plans to as another way to serve their customers and a logical contin- be involved. uation of their historic, technology-based customer service NCTD does not contribute directly to the financing of the investments, saying "You just want to be of service to your 511 system. Their investment thus far has been limited to the passengers any way you can; joining 511 is just like when you staff time associated with their participation in 511-related first added a website." meetings. NCTD's future plans for 511 consist of continuing to add NCTD did have some transit-related 511 statistics, but only real-time departure times for additional routes and services for the popularity of the public transportation menu option in and shifting their customer service marketing to eventually fea- general (i.e., nothing specific to their agency). The general sta- ture 511 as the primary phone number for customer service. tistics indicate that the public transportation menu option accounts for about 8% of all menu requests. Sun Tran (St. George, Utah) NCTD considers 511 a supplement, rather than an alterna- tive, to their own IVR (they participate in the regional Info The Utah 511 system became operational in December Express IVR) or their own staffed customer service phone 2001, which was in time for the 2002 Winter Olympics held in system (they participate in the Regional Transit Information Salt Lake City. The Utah 511 system provides information on Office regional system and have their own small customer traffic, public transit, road conditions, and ferry services. The service group of 10 employees, who answer phones among public transit option provides only information about the other duties). They feel that many transit customer service Utah Transit Authority (UTA), which serves Salt Lake City. calls will require interaction with a live operator and that SunTran is a small transit agency serving the City of until such a time as the current staff is overwhelmed, they St. George, which is in southwest Utah. SunTran has three do not see 511 replacing any of their other telephone infor- bus routes and paratransit service for people with disabilities. mation services. Although 511 is not expected to replace It is operated by the City of St. George. (43) any other phone services in the foreseeable future, NCTD does hope that some of their operator calls will eventually Rationale for participation. SunTran is not represented divert to 511, which was one explicit motivation for their on Utah's 511 system. According to SunTran, the agency participation in 511. never made a decision not to participate in 511, rather, they were never offered a chance to participate. Issues. NCTD identified two challenges or concerns with their 511 experience. First, they noted that putting their infor- Outlook. SunTran could not identify any compelling mation into the 511 system has been fairly time consuming, reasons for participating in 511, stating that "It may not be and that this process included the consultant they use for their worth it." They seemed to feel that the value of 511 could be IVR activities (the regional Info Express IVR). Second, like limited since they are such a small agency. MTS, they were disappointed that the regional 511 consultant initially brought a one-size-fits-all approach to the San Diego Washington Metropolitan Area 511 system, unsuccessfully attempting to adopt the San Fran- Transportation Authority cisco Bay Area 511 model to San Diego. NCTD indicated that they, and the other regional 511 partners, had to work closely The Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation with the consultant to get what they wanted. Authority (WMATA) operates the second largest rail tran- sit system and the fifth largest bus network in the United Outlook. Overall, NCTD seems very pleased with their States. Metrorail and Metrobus (Metro) serve a population 511 experience and, although they generally feel it is too early of 3.5 million within a 1,500 sq-mi area. The transit zone con- to see results yet, they expect a number of benefits. They seem sists of the District of Columbia, the suburban Maryland to have no reservations about 511 and encourage other tran- counties of Montgomery and Prince George's and the North- sit agencies to investigate 511 participation. Their only other ern Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun and