For Immediate Release
Real-Time Muni Arrival Information Just a Free Call Away
Measure 2 Delivers Funds for Regional Expansion
John Goodwin, MTC, 510.817.5862
San Francisco, Calif., July 13, 2005…Wondering when your train will arrive? Transit riders in San Francisco can now schedule their time more efficiently when taking the Muni Metro light-rail system and Muni’s historic streetcars. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the San Francisco Municipal Railway today expanded the Bay Area’s popular 511 traveler information system by adding a new demonstration real-time transit service, ‘511 Arrival Times.’ Simply by dialing 511 and navigating through an easy-to-use speech recognition system, riders can learn specifically when the next light-rail train or streetcar will arrive at their stop. Callers simply say “Muni” at the main menu and then “arrival times” to access the service. Further information about the pioneering service can be found on the Web at <www.511.org>.
511 Arrival Times currently is available on the J, K, L, M and N Muni Metro lines, and on San Francisco’s F-line historic streetcar. Like all 511 phone services, 511 Arrival Times is toll free. If the demonstration proves successful, the service will be expanded in the future to include Muni’s bus lines.
“People’s time is precious,” says MTC Chair Jon Rubin. “They don’t want to spend it standing on the corner waiting for the N Judah. Now they can call 511, and know exactly when the train will be at their stop. If they have a few minutes to spare, they can get a little more work done, run a quick errand or grab a cup of coffee around the corner.”
New Funds for Regionwide Expansion
MTC’s Programming and Allocations Committee today approved $20 million in grants to eight Bay Area transit operators to help them implement real-time transit arrival and departure services. These grants will be reviewed by the full Commission at its July 27 meeting.
Funds come from the Real-Time Transit Information Grant Program approved by voters in 2004 as part of Regional Measure 2. Recommended grants range in size from $105,000 to Emeryville’s Emery Go Round shuttle for electronic information signs at the MacArthur BART station in Oakland to $11.3 million for Muni to provide signage and outfit its bus system with the equipment needed to deliver real-time arrival information to passengers. Other grant recipients include AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, the Livermore-Amador Valley Transit Authority (Wheels), SamTrans, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and the Western Contra Costa Transit Authority (WestCAT). A full list of the recommended grants is available in the press release section of the MTC Web site at <www.mtc.ca.gov> or by phoning MTC Public Information at 510-817-5757 (see below for list).
How 511 Works
511 provides information via a state-of-the-art speech recognition system that allows the user to navigate the system without pressing a button. Much like 411 or 911, 511 is an easy-to- remember, 24-hour number. Other 511 services include comprehensive route, fare and schedule information for Muni and all other Bay Area public transportation agencies; up-to-the-minute reports on road conditions and traffic incidents; and information on carpooling, vanpooling and bicycling throughout the nine-county region. The 511 phone service is toll free from all Bay Area landlines and on wireless carriers, though cellular callers will be billed for minutes used according to their service plans. Traveler information also is available on the Web at <www.511.org>.
The 511 Arrival Times service is powered by Alameda-based NextBus Information Systems, which uses global positioning satellite (GPS) technology and advanced computer modeling to track vehicles on their routes and provide real-time arrival predictions.
After learning from the Muni demonstration MTC plans to add real-time information for other transit operators to the 511 system in the years ahead. The Muni demonstration will help establish regional standards for real-time transit data, including how best to deliver the information on the phone, on the Web or on electronic signs at transit stops.
About MTC and 511
The Bay Area’s 511 system is provided through a partnership between MTC, Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and dozens of public transit and paratransit operators. The 511 partnership relies on the region's transit and paratransit operators to provide timely and accurate information about their routes, schedules and fares — and to alert callers and Web users of any service changes or interruptions. The 511 partnership similarly calls for the CHP and Caltrans to constantly update vital information about traffic conditions, accidents, road closures, delays and other incidents affecting motorists on Bay Area freeways, expressways and other major thoroughfares.
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
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MTC Resolution No. 3708
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Recommended List of RM 2 Real-Time Transit Information Grant Program Fund Recipients
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Metropolitan Transportation Commission • 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, California 94607
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