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66 but those discussions have never occurred, because both 3.5 Interviews with 511 Tri-Met and Oregon 511 staff became distracted with other System Administrators activities. Generally, Tri-Met did not see 511 as a core component of The results of the 12 interviews with 511 system adminis- their customer service strategy. Rather, they liked the general trators are organized around the following four major topics discussed: concept of 511 as a consolidated, multimodal traveler infor- mation resource that would be especially useful to newcomers · Rationale for transit content decisions, to the region or travelers passing through and were interest- · Satisfaction with current content and plans for changes, ing in doing their part to support that concept. They did not · Transit agency funding participation, and expect to divert any of their customer service calls to 511 · Transit-related 511 operating statistics. because they think that most of their customers will ultimately want to speak to a Tri-Met call taker or will want the kind of complex trip planning information that is not feasible to main- 3.5.1 Rationale for Transit tain on 511. They also did not see much of an advantage of 511 Content Decisions as an easier-to-remember phone number for their customers. The rationale for including transit and the specific types of They feel that their well-marketed "238-RIDE" customer ser- transit information varied based on individual circumstances vice number is about as easy to remember as 511. The only among the six agencies that have integrated transit into their downside that Tri-Met envisioned with 511 was that, ulti- systems. Generally, the decision to include transit reflected mately, almost all of their current customers (as opposed to an acceptance of the national vision for 511 as a multimodal new residents) calling 511 would need to transfer to Tri-Met. information resource, even if the transit content is limited. In They did not view that possible inconvenience as a reason to many cases, limiting transit content and features to a call trans- avoid participation in 511, but rather just a limitation on fer to transit agency customer service represented an expedient the value of 511 and the role it would play in their customer way to include transit in the system and recognize that transit information strategy. agencies already have telephone customer service systems. Tri-Met does not view 511 as any sort of alternative to their Among the six agencies interviewed that include no transit own IVR. They do not feel comfortable relinquishing control information on their 511 systems, the rationale for the deci- of how they present information to their customers to any sion also varied significantly. Alaska included only informa- other organization, including the 511 administrator. They tion about ferry services because they view 511 as a resource take great pride in their customer service and see it as one of only for transportation systems operated statewide, and only their core functions and something over which they want to ferry services are statewide (other public transportation ser- retain control. They also felt that there would be too many vices vary and are operated independently in specific locations). technical challenges associated with inputting and maintain- Several 511 administrators said that transit agencies were ing their large route and schedule database on 511. invited to participate but were not interested. Washington Issues. Tri-Met cited no 511 issues per se, since they are State said that they wanted to include transit but the transit not participating, but they are facing some challenges in re- agencies did not want to lose any control in how they provide gard to their own customer information services. Many of the information to their customers. Colorado based its decision to agents in Tri-Met's call center have seniority and are expected not include transit on a survey of travelers that indicated lit- to retire soon. As a result, the agency is looking for technol- tle interest in transit information on 511. Both Colorado and ogy solutions that will help offset the need to hire new staff. Oregon indicated that the fact that transit agencies provide When TransitTracker was introduced in 2004, usage was "off their own information via telephone and websites was part of the charts" and Tri-Met is continuing to improve the product's their decision not to include transit on 511. The Kentucky usability. The volume of calls to customer service dropped Transportation Cabinet said that transit agencies were prima- about one third during the past year, and Tri-Met can handle rily interested in having a presence on the 511 website rather the current call volume with existing staff. than the statewide 511 telephone system (transit agencies are included in the regional Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky 511 Outlook. Tri-Met has no immediate plans to try to renew system operated by Ohio). discussions with the 511 system administrator regarding par- None of the 511 administrators cited the absence of any ticipation by Tri-Met or other transit agencies. It simply is not technological capabilities on the part of transit agencies as a high priority. Their focus is on improving their traveler in- playing a role in their fundamental decision to include or not formation systems, including TransitTracker. include transit information.