An evaluation of the Arizona 511 telephone traveler information system found that more than 70 percent of users surveyed were satisfied with the enhanced content provided.
Made Public Date


United States


United States

Model Deployment of a Regional, Multi-Modal 511 Traveler Information System: Final Report

Summary Information

A U.S. DOT Model Deployment evaluation of the Arizona 511 telephone traveler information system found that more than 70 percent of users surveyed were satisfied with the enhanced content provided. Prior to the deployment, Arizona DOT (ADOT) operated 10-digit state-wide road conditions telephone information system termed VRAS (Voice Response Activated System). In March 2002, VRAS was converted to 511, allowing users to obtain highway and transit information using touch-tone menu selections. In December 2003, the enhanced version of the 511 system was deployed. The enhanced version included a redesigned telephone interface and voice recognition system, and provided new types of content including information on arterial streets, airports, weather, transit services, and local events. Some of these services were implemented in a phased manner during the first year of operations.

The one-year Model Deployment of the enhanced 511 system extended from December 2003 through December 2004. Technical performance data, 511 system usage data, and customer satisfaction surveys were used to evaluate system impacts. Usage was determined from computer log files of phone calls to the 511 system, and in the case of the baseline analysis, electronic phone bill records.

The following types of data were collected from the 511 system log files:

  • Call volumes and patterns during several special events (e.g., wildfire, winter storm, the dynamic message sign (DMS) ad campaign, the one month conversion to the enhanced system).
  • Call frequency.
  • Call durations.
  • Wire line vs. cell phone calls.
  • Caller geographic location.
  • Menu selections.
  • Call transfers.
  • System capacity.
  • Unrecognized caller inputs.

In late October and early November 2004, about 9 months after the roll out of the enhanced 511 system, a percentage of calls into the 511 system were intercepted and callers were recruited to participate in a brief survey which was administered later in a separate call to users who agreed to be surveyed. Four hundred eleven (411) users of the 511 system were surveyed to gauge their satisfaction with the enhanced system and reaction to specific features.


Call volumes during the post-enhancement period increased 74 percent compared to the pre-enhancement period. Although much of the increase was the result of new callers, most of the information requested was the old pre-enhanced 511 information. The pre-enhanced information accounted for 91 percent (Roads) and 2.4 percent (Transit) of the information requested during the post-enhancement period. The new (enhanced) information categories accounted for only 4.3 percent (quick reports), 1.3 percent (Airports), and 0.4 percent (Tourism) of all information requests. Limited advertising efforts regarding the enhanced 511 information types contributed to the lack of use of those menu options. The high levels of demand for road-related information pertaining to freeways and interstates occurred as a result of significant public outreach efforts that used dynamic message signs (DMS) to promote 511 information where it was immediately applicable, on freeways.

By the time the caller survey took place, almost six months after the DMS campaign, one-third of surveyed users were new callers to the Arizona 511 service. Overall, 73 percent of surveyed respondents were residents of Phoenix and 2 percent were residents of Tucson. The majority of calls to the system were placed en-route using a cell phone in a private vehicle.

The overall results of the survey indicated that the 511 system was well received. Seventy-one percent (71 percent) of surveyed callers expressed overall satisfaction with information they received for the trip they were taking. Although voice recognition was used by the majority of callers, it had drawbacks and received lower satisfaction ratings than phone button access. First-time callers were less satisfied with voice recognition than repeat callers. The principal reasons for dissatisfaction were that the 511 system did not understand the spoken request, it gave the wrong information, and there was background noise that caused interference. Based on survey results, the problems were not related exclusively to either cell phones or the use of hands-free mode.


The survey results below excerpted from the report support the finding that callers preferred to access information about specific conditions (i.e., construction, congestion, traffic, weather) on roadways of interest (such as commuter routes) rather than rely on regional summaries (quick reports).


Satisfaction with Quality of Information Received for All Calls to 511



Road-Related Information
Very Satisfied
Somewhat Satisfied
Neither Satisfied nor Dissatisfied
Somewhat Dissatisfied
Very Dissatisfied
Weather-related roadway conditions (n=196)
Traffic incidents and accidents (n=255)
Traffic congestion (n=241)
Roadway construction projects (n=240)
Quick reports providing regional summaries (n=179)

The survey results for the Bus Information, and the Tourism and Airport information had a too few respondents to draw conclusions about customer satisfaction with these content areas.



Model Deployment of a Regional, Multi-Modal 511 Traveler Information System: Final Report

Model Deployment of a Regional, Multi-Modal 511 Traveler Information System: Final Report
Publication Sort Date
Battelle and the University of Arizona
Federal Highway Administration, U.S. DOT

(Our website has many links to other organizations. While we offer these electronic linkages for your convenience in accessing transportation-related information, please be aware that when you exit our website, the privacy and accessibility policies stated on our website may not be the same as that on other websites.)

Deployment Locations