The National Academies

TCRP A-31 [Completed]

Transit, Call Centers, and 511: A Guide for Decision Makers

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Research Agency: Battelle Memorial Institute
Principal Investigator: Matthew Burt
Effective Date: 12/15/2006
Completion Date: 4/30/2009

The deployment of 511 is intended to become the nationwide transit and traffic telephone information resource. 511 projects are intended to provide better customer information for travelers, including transit customers. As stated in the May 2005 511 National Progress Report :
    In 1999, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) petitioned the FCC to designate a nationwide three-digit telephone number for traveler information. At the time, over 300 different telephone numbers were found to be providing some sort of highway or public transportation related information to the public. On July 21, 2000, the FCC designated 511 as the national travel information number. The FCC ruling leaves nearly all implementation issues and schedules to state and local agencies and telecommunications carriers. There are no federal requirements and no mandated way to pay for 511. Consistent with the national designation of 511, the FCC expected that transportation agencies would provide the traveling public with a quality service that has a degree of uniformity across the country.

Some transit systems have expressed concern that 511 deployment may affect their call-center operations with a significant increase in calls, which could result in additional staffing (and costs) or degraded service quality (and additional complaints). Research is needed to (1) provide agency decision makers with guidance on how 511 deployment may affect transit agencies and their customers and (2) provide tools for potential 511 implementers to assess the requirements for their operations, such as the level of automation and the nature of services to be considered.

The objectives of this project are to (1) identify and estimate costs, benefits, opportunities, and risks associated with integrating transit call centers with 511; (2) create tools to assist transit decision makers in deciding whether or not to participate in 511 deployment and, if so, how to do so; and (3) develop models for providing transit travel information that integrates with 511.

Status:    The report has been published as TCRP Report 134 and is available through the following link: 




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