OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- With October's call volume of 610,000, the 511 phone system is on track for another record-breaking quarter following an all-time high volume of 1.6 million calls in the third quarter of 2011. Program managers say the spike in usage is directly attributable to the increased ease of obtaining real-time transit departure information.
"Call volume is going up, and it is being completely driven by the fact that real-time transit departures are easier-than-ever to access and popular with Bay Area transit riders," said Nisar Ahmed, 511 program coordinator. "We are hoping for an even higher volume of calls in the fourth quarter."
Ahmed said the placement of stop ID decals at transit stops by AC Transit and Muni is making the difference. The decals instruct riders to call 511, say, "Departure times" and enter the decal's stop ID number when prompted to get current departure predictions for their route. Muni has affixed stop ID decals throughout its entire system. AC Transit is about 30 percent finished. Riders who don't know their transit ID number can still get real-time departure predictions by following the 511 voicemail prompt system. 511 offers real-time departure predictions for AC Transit, Muni, BART, WestCAT, Broadway Shuttle and Dumbarton Express.
In addition to calling 511, users can obtain real-time transit departures at 511.org or on mobile devices at m.511.org. The information may be obtained by using a stop ID or by starting with the transit operator, but using the stop ID number saves time and simplifies the process. Both sites have tools to look-up stop IDs. Another option is to use one's cell phone texting service. To request and receive departure predictions by SMS/text message, simply text "511 [Stop ID #]" to DOTORG (368674). For example, for departure predictions for a stop with Stop ID #14448, send the following text to DOTORG (368674): 511 14448. A text response from 511 will immediately be sent that includes up to three departure times for each route that serves the stop. Depending on your plan, texting charges may apply.
511's program managers say that real-time information is key to improving service, performance and functionality. In the coming months 511 will launch additional new tools and features that will make the free service even more indispensable for Bay Area travelers.
"We are very excited about making 511 even more useful to the public," said Ahmed. "By improving the customer experience, more people are able to easily make informed transportation choices, which can reduce congestion and travel time. It also helps consumers save money on fuel costs and helps reduce pollution from vehicles stuck in slow-moving traffic."
511 is a one-stop phone and web source for up-to-the-minute Bay Area traffic, transit, rideshare and bicycling information. It's FREE and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere in the nine-county Bay Area. Call 511 or visit www.511.org. 511 is managed by a partnership of public agencies led by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the California Highway Patrol, and the California Department of Transportation.
The San Francisco Bay Area was the first region in California to activate a 511 traveler information system. MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
SOURCE Metropolitan Transportation Commission