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75 The role of these issues in determining a transit 511 strategy Viability of Automated Transit is explored in Section 4.2.1. Telephone Information Although there was a minimal amount of experience with Coordination between 511 and Transit automated systems (particularly transit systems), transit rid- In several cases, the current state of the 511 system in re- ers were supportive of accessing transit information on an gard to transit content was identified as something that was IVR information system. Focus group participants said they considered some time ago, when the system was initially de- were willing to rely primarily on an automated system pro- signed, but has not been reconsidered. It also appears that if vided that the information was accurate and comprehensive transit considerations at that time included a dialogue be- and that an operator was available if needed. Interest in an tween the 511 administrator and the transit agency, that dia- automated system is greater when real-time (vehicle arrival/ logue was fairly limited and, once completed, the resulting departure time) information is available. decision has not been reconsidered. Finally, in several cases, This finding, along with the fact that many transit agencies the recollections of the 511 system administrator are incon- have invested in, and have derived benefit from, IVR systems, sistent with those of the transit agency--at least the specific indicates that there is nothing about transit traveler informa- individuals that were interviewed. Specifically, there are sev- tion that makes it inherently unsuitable for dissemination via eral cases where the administrator says that transit was invited IVR systems. Although automated information systems can- to participate but declined and the transit agency represen- not address all of the information needs of every transit cus- tative says that they do not remember ever being given the tomer, they can be a very important part of a transit agency's opportunity to participate. These discrepancies may be the overall customer service strategy. Further, this suggests that result of imprecise memory or staff turnover. Regardless, they providing transit information through a 511 system (which, underscore how inter-agency communication and coordina- by definition is automated) is fundamentally viable. It also tion that may have occurred long ago, and which may or may validates the 511 Deployment Coalition guidance stating that not remain valid or even remembered by the participants, call transfers to transit agency customer service should be continues to fundamentally shape current 511 operations. provided from 511, since focus group participants expressed belief that access to an operator is important. Transit 511 Website Participation A few of the 511 administrators interviewed indicated that Transit Information on 511 the fact that transit information is included in the web ver- As noted previously, the focus group and the successful sion of their 511 system played some role in their decision experiences of transit agencies indicate that providing tran- (and/or the decision of the transit agencies) not to include sit information through an IVR is viable. Further, the op- transit, or not to include much transit, in their 511 telephone system. For example, Oregon cited this as a consideration and tion of a call transfer to a transit call taker is vital. However, Alaska has made adding transit to their website a higher pri- the focus group findings (as well as the limited 511 system ority than adding it to their telephone system. This suggests usage statistics for transit that are available) suggest that that one set of recommendations or criteria pertaining to other parts of the rationale for transit on 511 will not always transit and 511 may not be appropriate to cover both the web be valid. and telephone versions of 511. Specifically, the focus group results do not support the notion that having transit information on 511 is always ben- eficial because seekers of transit information might find it 4.1.3 Transit Customer Perspectives on 511 easier to find or remember 511 rather than the phone num- Study conclusions related to transit riders--both their per- ber of specific transit agencies. Despite many years of 511 ceptions regarding telephone transit information as well as marketing in the Salt Lake region, focus group participants transit information on 511--are based primarily on the focus did not feel that 511 was very visible and found it unlikely group conducted with six Utah Transit Authority riders in that a newcomer or visitor to the region would learn about Salt Lake City. Although the limited scale of the research pre- the local 511 system earlier than they would learn about the cludes definitive conclusions, a number of informative pre- heavily-marketed and easily remembered UTA customer liminary conclusions can be identified, then organized into service number (RIDE-UTA) or find it easier than the UTA those pertaining to transit information on IVR systems in phone number. The focus groups also indicated that in many general and those pertaining to the rationale for providing communities around the country like Salt Lake City in which transit information on 511. all or almost all public transportation is provided by a single