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OCR for page 79
79 Table 15. Decision factors related to basic transit information on 511. Decision Factor Implication If the 511 system administrator views the system as a Local 511 embraces highway/traffic-only resource, it is likely that a transit agency will national 511 vision of a not have any opportunity to participate in 511. If transit does multimodal resource participate, they are not likely to derive any significant benefit. Transit agency required If the transit agency is required to contribute significantly toward to contribute to 511 the cost of the 511 system, the benefits to transit often will be less system costs than the costs. If resources for 511 are extremely limited, the cost of call transfers Cost of call transfers from 511 may outweigh the relatively minor benefits of 511 from 511 to transit participation that many transit agencies will realize. In those agencies cases, the transit agency phone number can be listed on 511 rather than providing a call transfer capability. Commitments to keep The relatively minor benefit (e.g., a resource for those service disruption proportionally few travelers who may find their way to a given information accurate and 511 system looking for transit information) of this information is up to date lost if the information is not accurate and current. If the schedule and fare information is very detailed and therefore likely to change often, the effort necessary to keep it accurate and Level of detail of current will often outweigh the value of having it on 511. It is schedule and fare assumed that the 511 Deployment Coalition's guidance to include information schedule and fare information refers to high-level schedule and fare information, which is almost always worth listing on 511. 511 system administrator regarding basic transit informa- The region is served by a single transit provider and it is tion on 511. easier to call that agency directly. Table 16 presents a full list of factors that can guide deci- 4.2.1.3 Additional Transit Information sions from transit agencies and 511 system administrators As described in the previous section, in most cases the sim- regarding providing advanced transit information and fea- ple and compelling rationale for transit agencies to provide tures on 511. basic information on 511 amounts to a limited cost/limited return equation. Therefore, it will be easy for most transit 4.2.2 Transit Utilization of Advanced agencies to decide to participate assuming their 511 system Telephone Customer Service administrator provides the opportunity. However, the deci- Technologies and Practices sion to provide additional information on 511--information that holds the potential to provide significantly greater value The two primary recommendations related to transit agen- to 511 callers looking for transit information but which is cies' use of advanced technologies and practices are (1) con- much more expensive to effectively deploy and maintain--is sider greater utilization of proven, advanced technologies and a much more complicated decision. techniques and (2) consider N11 systems as part of overall Overall, far fewer transit agencies will find the value of pro- customer service strategy. viding additional (or advanced) transit information and fea- tures like detailed route and schedule information or real-time 4.2.2.1 Consider Greater Utilization of Proven, information worth the cost to do so. The strongest argument Advanced Technologies and Techniques exists where there is significant value in providing traffic and transit information in one place (especially when information Although transit agencies utilize many of the same advanced is often needed for multiple transit agencies). In many regions, call center technologies and techniques as do non-transit or- this will not be the case for the following reasons: ganizations, non-transit call centers tend to use more of the advanced methods than do transit call centers with compara- Few travelers need traffic and transit information for any ble call volumes. Transit agencies of varying sizes are encour- given trip (that is, mode choice decisions or multimodal aged to evaluate the potential benefits of more extensive utiliza- trips are not made frequently), tion of advanced call center technologies and practices. This The 511 system is well established as a traffic-only resource could include medium-sized agencies implementing IVR and there is no ability or commitment to change that iden- systems or large agencies enhancing the sophistication of tity, and/or their IVR systems to serve a wide range of customer inquiries.

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80 Table 16. Decision factors related to providing additional transit information on 511. Decision Factor Implication 511 System Factors Technical and financial Limitations of the 511 system in regard to the number of callers, capability of the 511 complexity of the menu system, and ability to effectively interface system to support with transit databases may preclude advanced transit information advanced transit and features on 511. Funding limitations may prevent upgrades to content/features the 511 system to support these features and/or the 511 system administrator may not have the staff resources needed to carry out the on-going activities associated with these more advanced transit features. Ability and commitment The value of transit information on 511 is a function of the number to market 511 to transit of transit information seekers who use 511. If a 511 system is not users historically viewed and used as a transit information resource, the absence of an on-going marketing campaign targeted to transit users means that the value of having advanced transit information on 511 usually will not warrant the cost. Transit Agency Factors Technical and other Just as the 511 system administrator may lack the necessary resources necessary to resources, so might the transit agency. Unless a 511 system keep information administrator is willing to take sole responsibility for obtaining accurate and current on information updates from the transit agency (and most 511 administrators will be unable or unwilling to do so indefinitely), the absence of transit agency resources will preclude advanced information on 511. Ability and commitment In order for the investment in advanced transit information on 511 to to market 511 to transit be worthwhile, either the 511 system administrator or the transit users agency must be willing and able to commit to a long-term marketing strategy to establish and maintain 511 as a multimodal resource. Transit agency has, or If a transit agency has, or is planning to implement, their own IVR, intends to implement, its in most cases there is little benefit in making the same information own IVR and features also available directly on the 511 system. The exceptions to this include regions where 511 is effectively marketed to support multimodal planning and many travelers make mode- choice decisions frequently. If the transit agency does not have their own IVR but wants one, then the 511 system may provide an opportunity to fill that need either as a stop-gap until the transit agency can implement their own IVR, or as a long-term strategy that eliminates the need for a transit agency IVR. The suitability of 511 as a long-term replacement for a transit agency IVR will depend on effective marketing of 511 to transit users and the feasibility of maintaining accurate and up-to-date information on the 511 system. Number of customer If very few transit customer inquiries can be addressed with an IVR inquiries that could be system, the cost to provide such information on 511 probably is not handled all or in part via justified. If many inquiries could be so addressed, the decision will IVR depend on other factors noted in this table (e.g., marketing, ability to keep information accurate, etc.). Current cost of long- In some cases, transit agencies pay a considerable amount for local distance charges for long-distance calls to their customer service center (e.g., from within customer service calls their service area but from a different area code). In these cases, if calls to 511 are toll free (and they almost always are) and the 511 system administrator pays for call transfers out of 511 to the transit agency, having transit information on 511 can reduce local long- distance costs for transit. Ability to effectively If a transit agency lacks an IVR and is struggling to keep up with process current and incoming demand on their customer service line, providing anticipated transit extensive information on 511 can help a transit agency meet customer service call customer needs. Whether it makes more sense to meet those needs volumes via 511 versus upgrades to their own call center will depend on the other factors as noted in this table. 511 system user interface The value of advanced transit content and features on 511 depend significantly on the ability of transit users to conveniently and reliably access that information. Impediments such as a poorly performing 511 voice recognition system or inconvenient placement of transit information in the 511 menu structure would argue against a significant investment in advanced transit information on 511. These impediments will pose a particular challenge to cell phone users and seniors.