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62 customer service calls for Muni, could reduce the 511 call vol- MTC is considering or pursuing the following 511 and umes and thereby incrementally lesson the vitality of 511. 511-related enhancements, in addition to expansion of the They also were concerned about losing the hard-earned brand arrival times feature: identity for 511; that is, people could be confused about the distinction between 311 and 511. We have examined 511 call My 511--Currently in development, this system will allow volumes for 6 mo before and 6 mo after 311's February 2007 transit 511 users to establish a user profile predesignating up start date and, although average monthly 511 calls are down to six specific transit trips of interest. Then, whenever the about 3%, it is not clear whether such fluctuation is normal customer calls 511, their phone number will be recognized or related to 311. Regardless, MTC feels that the positive and they will immediately be presented with the option of focus that 311 has brought to the regional web-based Trip obtaining information on any of their predefined trips. Planner tool (which is heavily utilized by 311 operators) out- Regional, staffed customer information--This concept, weighs any concerns about potential call siphoning. Regard- discussed in the AC Transit case study, is only in the very ing differentiation of 311 and 511, MTC feels this continues to early stages of consideration and may not be discussed be an issue, although not necessarily any major threat to 511. any further. The idea would be to establish a regional, Generally, their concern is based on their own experiences consolidated call taking center staffed with operators to in trying to establish the 511 identity and their understand- handle customer service for multiple transit agencies. As ing that it is very difficult to effectively educate the public discussed in the AC Transit case study, one possible version about these types of services, especially when differentiating of the concept would be for this center to only operate two similar-sounding services. during the times when individual agencies' call centers are closed. Outlook. Overall, MTC considers the transit aspects of the 511 telephone information system to have been success- ful; with the arrival times feature being the stand-out per- 3.4.2 Transit Agencies with a Presence former and a possible "killer application" for transit on 511. on 511 but No Integration However, after several years of experience, MTC does have 3.4.2.1 Manchester Transit Authority some concerns about transit on 511. Most significant among (New Hampshire) these concerns is the perception that many agencies simply do not care very much about 511 and do not seem willing to put The Manchester Transit Authority (MTA) provides pub- much effort into effectively maintaining their agency's infor- lic transportation service for the city of Manchester, New mation on the system. MTC has made no decisions about Hampshire. In addition, the MTA provides student trans- their long-term plans for continuing to carry out and fund up- portation for the Manchester School District. MTA's service dating of individual agencies' transit information, but they are area covers 299 sq mi with a population of 846,000. The MTA beginning to look carefully at the benefits and costs. They em- system includes 13 bus routes and several specialized shuttles. phasize that regardless of the outcome of that consideration, In 2005, MTA carried 19.3 million one-way trips. (56) they will honor their commitment to 511 in support of those The New Hampshire Department of Transportation agencies that rely on 511. (NHDOT) sponsors the statewide 511 system. Callers look- Even greater than any particular successes or disappoint- ing for transit information are directed to the 511 website, ments associated with the Bay Area 511 transit activities, the where they can click on the traveler information link, or to over-arching perspective from MTC seems to be that explo- a toll-free transit customer information line (no call trans- ration of the value of transit on 511--and the inevitable array fer option is provided). There is no other transit informa- of both successes and disappointments that are likely to be tion on the 511 phone system. encountered--is the most important thing. They seem to feel that studies are useful, but at some point the only way to re- Rationale for participation. The MTA interviewee was ally learn something is through experimentation, always not at MTA when the New Hampshire 511 system was being starting on a small scale to minimize costs and expanding/ planned and implemented (2002 to 2003). Therefore, she continuing only if proven to be warranted. They have em- does not know whether MTA was provided an opportunity braced the role of regional 511 leader, including the transit to consider having a call transfer from 511 or any other infor- component, feeling that since no single agency would other- mation or options on 511. The MTA interviewee did note wise tackle such a large effort, it is a natural part of their re- that in the 4 years she has been with the agency, MTA has not sponsibility for promoting regional mobility. been approached by the 511 system administrators about As well as continuing to examine and possibly advance making any changes to the nature of MTA's participation in their approaches to operating and maintaining transit 511, the system.