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USDOT Joins Arizona DOT to Launch 511 Travel Information Model Deployment

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  U.S. Department of Transportation

USDOT Joins Arizona DOT to Launch 511 Travel Information Model Deployment

Federal Highway Administration
July 11, 2002

Thursday, July 11, 2002
Contact: Susan Slye
Telephone: 202-366-0660
FHWA 23-02

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today announced an agreement between the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Arizona Department of Transportation to develop an enhanced 511 traveler information telephone system. 511 is America's travel information telephone number that, when fully deployed, will provide easy access to local travel information anytime, anywhere, across America.

"Improving safety and relieving congestion are two of our top transportation priorities," Secretary Mineta said. "By giving travelers easy access to information on which to make choices of time, mode, and route of travel, 511 helps travelers avoid congested routes and safety hazards. Arizona, as a leader in ITS deployment, and an early implementer of 511, is well-positioned to serve as a model for other states and jurisdictions in implementing 511."

The goal of the model deployment is to establish and document an innovative example of 511 traveler information service that advances content quality and interactions between the caller and the 511 service. It will illustrate how the innovative application of technologies can create an effective 511 service that delivers high-quality telephone traveler information.

Arizona and its joint proposers - Maricopa County, key area metropolitan planning organizations, and the cities of Phoenix and Tucson - were selected from proposals submitted after a January 2002 request by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration, both agencies of USDOT. Of the 10 proposals received, the proposal from Arizona came closest to meeting technical and financial criteria, and presented an environment with a variety of conditions for generating demand for travel information.

Delivery of information into Arizona's traveler data system will be automated and will encompass a wide range of traveler information. It will include current information about recurring traffic congestion; ongoing roadway construction projects; variable weather conditions such as icy conditions collected from the roadway weather information system's snow and ice sensors; multiple modes of travel such as schedules or service interruptions for public transportation; and the status of traffic incidents from the regional incident management programs. The 511 Model Deployment will go beyond providing this basic traveler information by adding arterial travel times, information for commercial vehicles, parking information, and airport information. The project will enhance current cooperative efforts with the neighboring states of California and New Mexico.

Arizona and its partners plan a voice-responsive, "customer-designed" interaction between callers and 511. An important goal is a system that is easy to use and does not compromise the caller's expectation for personalized information. The 511 Model Deployment also will solicit information from vendors that can permit testing of providing premium services through the 511 system such as personalized, caller-defined routes and trips.

The Arizona 511 Model Deployment is scheduled to be operational in about six months. USDOT will conduct an evaluation over the following six to 12 months and publish the results. The total cost of the 511 Model Deployment is expected to be $1.425 million, with the federal share being $1.140 million.

511 was born out of a recognition that the massive quantity of travel data being collected and disseminated via Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) could be delivered directly to travelers and drivers via the telephone. Recognizing a proliferation of 7- and 10-digit travel information numbers, USDOT on March 8, 1999, petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a three-digit traveler information telephone number. In July 2000, "511" was designated as the nationally available traveler information telephone number. The FCC assigned responsibility for 511 to state and local transportation agencies. USDOT joined with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the American Public Transportation Association, and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America to promote deployment of 511 and together developed guidelines for implementation.

USDOT offers technical assistance and $100,000 grants to state DOTs for 511 implementation. On June 11, 2001, the Northern Kentucky-Cincinnati area launched the first 511 traveler information service in the country. Since then, statewide 511 services have begun in Nebraska, Utah, Minnesota and Arizona, as well as along the I-81 corridor in western Virginia. 511 service is expected to be available in parts of or all of 15 states by the end of 2002.

For additional information on ITS and 511, visit the Department's ITS web site, http://www.its.dot.gov/.


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