OAKLAND, CA — Wondering if you should give yourself a little extra time to get to work in the morning? Can’t decide which freeway to take on your way home tonight? You’re in luck: with MY 511, users get instant access to their very own personalized travel information throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Building on the resources offered by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) award-winning 511 travel-information service, MY 511 allows users to build their own home page as well as bypass the 511 phone menu for up-to-the-minute driving times 24 hours a day. MTC’s Jim Macrae explained, “This is the first personalized travel service in the country offering user-defined home pages, direct phone access to trip information and e-mail/text alerts.”
Users can register by visiting www.511.org and clicking on the MY 511 tab. After registering, they can establish up to six personalized trips with names like “home-to-work” or “work-to-gym.” From that point forward, users who choose the “Keep me signed in to MY 511” option at their registration page will be directed to a personalized home page featuring their selected trips as well as up to six live video feeds of Bay Area traffic. The personalized Web page also will give users access to the same transit, bicycling and rideshare info available to them on the main 511 site.
The 511 phone line also is going personal. Thanks to caller-ID technology, the system can recognize the phone number the user is dialing from and deliver the appropriate traffic information without the caller having to wade through numerous menu choices. To establish this personalized phone service, users go online to register up to three phone numbers (such as home, office and cell phone) with MY 511. Once they’ve signed up, they simply name the trip in question for the latest traffic updates, rather than defining their starting and ending points each time they call. “This is a real time-saver for commuters,” said Macrae.
For those who find themselves checking the same trips every day, MY 511 offers an additional bonus: alerts can be set up to automatically inform motorists of the current drive times for those trips via e-mail or text message. Coming soon: drivers will be able to set preferences to receive alerts only when their driving times are worse than normal.
San Francisco Muni passengers also can look forward to setting up a similar personal profile for their transit trips. This upcoming feature, expected to debut in the summer of 2008, will allow users to quickly find out when a Muni train or bus will arrive at a user-specified stop. Users also will be able to sign up for text or e-mail alerts informing them at a specified time when their next bus or train departs.
The Bay Area is the largest metropolitan area in the country — and was the first in California — to activate a 511 system. The service currently generates more than 450,000 calls and 1.5 million Web visits each month.
“Bay Area residents are tech savvy,” said Macrae. “ MY 511 gives them the opportunity to apply the latest technology to manage their commutes more easily. We are proud that the Bay Area’s 511 system continues to lead the country in terms of providing speedy, accurate, personalized information to travelers.”
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. MTC operates the regional 511 system in partnership with Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and Bay Area transit agencies.
John Goodwin, MTC: (415) 778-5262
Andrew Pease, MTC: (510) 817-5973
Jim Macrae, MTC: (510) 817-5714