Deployment experiences document the importance of traveler information and list top sources of traveler information.

The experience of several North American cities' delpoyment of traveler information systems.

Date Posted

Managing Demand Through Travel Information Services

Summary Information

This report highlighted several applications of ITS traveler information services used to manage demand during periods of congestion, including congestion during commute periods, special events, and emergencies. The authors defined advanced traveler information systems as technologies that assemble and process travel-related data and disseminate useful information to travelers.

In Seattle, the following evaluation data were highlighted:

1) Top Sources of Traveler Information (percent of trips where information was consulted).

  • En-route radio (56 percent).
  • Pre-trip radio (22 percent).
  • TV News Broadcast (13 percent).
  • Traffic Websites ( 6 percent).
  • Transit Websites (6 percent).

2) Effect of Traveler Information on Travel Decisions.

  • Made no change (64 percent).
  • Changed the time they left (13 percent).
  • Took the planned route, but made small changes to avoid congested areas (11 percent).
  • Took a whole different route from their planned one (9 percent).
  • Added, delayed, or cancelled trip (2 percent).
  • Changed means of transport (1 percent).

3) Benefits of Traveler Information.

  • Reduced trip time (43 percent).
  • No Answer (18 percent).
  • More predictable travel (13 percent).
  • Less stressful conditions (12 percent).
  • Other (8 percent).
  • Safer Travel conditions (6 percent).

The majority of workers surveyed in Seattle and Los Angeles indicated that they used the Internet to obtain traffic information for their commute trips. Results indicated that commuters tended to use information on the Internet more heavily during the afternoon commute versus the morning commute because they had greater flexibility at the end of their work day to modify their departure time and compensate for traffic conditions. Even more commuters reported that they used web-site traffic information to check traffic on alternate routes.

In a Minnesota survey, general radio and regular TV were used by over 77 percent of travelers, and most of them were interested in "exception reports" about their usual journey. Although the TV reports were brief and had limited detail on traffic conditions throughout the coverage area, the ease of access made TV and radio the most common sources of traffic information for many commuters.

Traveler information tools can help boost transit ridership. For example, 70 percent of respondents to a survey of California's GoVentura website trip planning system said that the website helped them make a transit trip that they would otherwise have made by automobile.

In Toronto, the introduction of a new feature called "Today's Service Updates" on the Go Transit traveler information website was well received by customers. When this feature became available, website usage increased from 3,500 to 6,500 visits per day.

In Ottawa-Carleton, Canada, an automated telephone transit information system (the "560 system") was tested. A comparison of routes with and without the "560 system" showed that the system contributed to an 8 percent increase in off-peak ridership.

In 2004, San Francisco Bay Area 511 phone users were surveyed. Thirty-six (36) percent of respondents reported that the information they received caused them to change their travel plans or actions. Overall, 92 percent of respondents were satisfied with the 511 system (and 70 percent were very satisfied). The primary types of travel information sought were:

  • Traffic (59 percent).
  • Public transportation (39 percent).
  • Carpool or vanpool (2 percent).
  • Bicycling (less than 1 percent).