Bus

511 Transit hailed as "great" government Website

Posted on August 11, 2009

The 511 Transit page at www.transit.511.org has been cited by Government Computer News as one of 10 great government Websites nationwide for 2009. The magazine hailed the popular site as "a heroic act of interagency coordination."

511 Transit, which originally was launched in 2003 and periodically has been expanded and upgraded, is a one-stop source for transit information, offering online trip planning as well as route, fare and schedule data for dozens of different transit operators throughout the Bay Area. A total redesign of 511 Transit was completed in summer 2008 and further revisions are now underway.

"The redesign improved 511 Transit in many ways," explained Tom Spiekerman, transit.511.org project manager for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), which manages the Bay Area's 511 traveler information system. "It's faster, smarter, contains more interactive mapping, and is easier to use. Even the quality of the information is improved, thanks to new data collection and aggregation processes - and a lot of valuable customer feedback from Website visitors. As a result the online trip planner is now among the best of its kind anywhere."

The 511 Transit page registered nearly 1.7 million individual user sessions in July 2009, a 47 percent increase over the monthly average in 2008. And the online trip planner at the 511 Transit page generated more than 1.5 million itineraries last month, compared to a monthly average of about 1.1 million in 2008.

The success of 511 Transit reflects good working partnerships between MTC and the various transit agencies. "The operators maintain their schedules and route data in a lot of different formats," continued Spiekerman. "This creates a challenge combining the data so the online trip planner can deliver useful itineraries. But it turned out to be as much an opportunity as it was an obstacle. It allowed us to create a flexible and uniform interface that riders can use to explore and simplify their transit options."

Government Computer News' recognition of the redesigned 511 Transit page marks the Website's second major honor in recent months. The 511 Transit page last fall received a prestigious Best of ITS Award, in the Best New Innovative Product or Service category, from the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.

MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. MTC contracted with San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp (SAIC) to develop the Web site and the Regional Transit Information System behind 511 Transit. Software for the online transit trip planner is provided by Munich, Germany-based Mentz Datenverarbeitung GmbH.

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