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71 Several major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, quality monitoring. Not surprisingly, medium and large agen- Chicago, Houston, and Dallas, do not have 511 systems. cies were found to utilize more advanced approaches than Many 511 systems are not new telephone information sys- small agencies. tems, but rather are 10-digit telephone information systems No clear relationship was found, however, between call (usually toll-free) that existed for many years prior to the center sophistication and 511 participation. Agencies with designation of 511. In these cases, "implementation of 511" more robust 511 participation, that is, those that are inte- has meant merely working with the telephone companies to grated with 511 (having the ability to transfer directly from convert switches so that, in addition to continued viability of the 511 system to the transit agency customer service line) the traditional 10-digit number, callers can now also access were not any more advanced in their call center practices than the systems by dialing 511. Many of these traditional phone agencies with less advanced call centers. In fact, many of the systems that have been converted to 511 were, and still are, various advanced call center practices were more common operated or financially supported by state departments of among transit agencies not integrated with 511 systems. transportation. These systems either only provide highway A correlation was observed between transit agency integra- information or are traditionally and primarily focused on, tion with 511 telephone systems and their participation in and known for, highway information. It is likely that these other broader traveler information systems (e.g., 511 web- factors significantly influenced some transit agency experi- sites, highway DMS, etc.). This simply suggests that the types ences with 511. of agencies that are willing to get involved in 511 are the same Nationally, transit agency participation in 511 systems types of agencies interested in other non-transit traveler infor- is quite variable and limited overall. The 511 Deployment mation outlets. It does not suggest that any particular capabil- Coalition's guidelines recommend that at the very least, tran- ities are required for transit agencies to benefit from 511. sit agency participation on every 511 system should include Based on these comparisons and corroborating findings basic information on the service provided by each and every from the 29 transit agency case studies (including that 511 par- transit agency in the 511 coverage area (e.g., transit agency ticipation does not seem to increase the total calls to transit), it service area, schedules, fares, service disruptions) and an op- does not appear that participation or integration with 511 re- tion to transfer from the 511 system directly to each transit quires any special transit agency capabilities (e.g., technology, agency's customer service line. staffing, hours of operation, etc.). Any transit agency with a Current reality falls far short of this minimum recommen- phone number that can field a call transferred from 511 pos- dation. Just over half (22) of the 42 total 511 systems in oper- sesses the minimum requirements for integrating with 511 ation in the United States have no transit presence or content. and potentially will benefit from 511. Of the 20 systems that do have some transit presence, only 9 meet the minimum requirements recommended by the 511 220.127.116.11 Transit Rationale for Participation/ Deployment Coalition. Non-Participation in 511 For most transit agencies participating in 511, their regional 511 system includes very limited information and options for The 29 case studies included in this study indicated that their agency. Typically, transit agencies can provide a message transit agency decisions to participate or not participate in (recorded themselves or recorded for them by the 511 system 511 are primarily a function of whether they were offered the operator) describing any service disruptions. However, few opportunity by the 511 system sponsor. Almost every agency transit agencies make any significant use of this feature. Fur- that was offered the opportunity to participate is participat- ther, the telephone number of the transit agency is listed ing. For most of the transit agencies that are not participating and/or an option to transfer to the transit agency is provided. in 511, it is simply because there is no 511 system in their re- Exceptions are rare, such as the San Francisco Bay Area 511 gion or the 511 system sponsor has not included any transit system, which has many transit agencies that include sub- information. menus with several categories of prerecorded information in The decision to participate in 511 was not complicated or addition to the call transfer option. difficult for most transit agencies. They did not expect any significant, direct benefits to their customer service opera- tions as a result of 511 participation. Rather, they wanted to 18.104.22.168 Influence of Transit Agency Size, Call demonstrate their support for regional, multimodal traveler Center Sophistication, and Participation information. Practically none of the transit agencies were in Other Traveler Information Systems asked to make any resource contribution to 511 other than Transit agency size was found to be closely correlated with participating in planning meetings. So, although they did the complexity or sophistication of call center operations, in- not necessarily expect any big pay-off from 511, they saw no cluding the use of technologies, performance metrics, and real reason not to participate. Most agencies view 511 not as