The Metropolitan Model Deployment Initiative (MMDI) Seattle Evaluation Report detailed the results of seven ITS projects undertaken through the deployment initiative.
The responses of Seattle area travelers to the various ITS improvements undertaken during the MMDI project were evaluated using focus groups, mail-in questionnaires, and Web-based surveys.
Overall, the five projects evaluated for customer satisfaction received high ratings from those travelers that made use of the systems. While the number of travelers influenced by the different systems varied widely, those that relied on each individual system generally found them to be useful.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) traveler information web site received very favorable ratings from participants in an online survey accessible through the site. The web site used data from freeway loop detectors and video feeds to publish freeway segment travel speeds and incident data. Responses indicated that the site was frequently used for trips to and from work or school and that route changes were a significant response to information obtained from the site. Participants also indicated the benefit of reducing the stress of their journey. It is important to note that this was a voluntary survey, and that the responses of those who participated cannot be extended to represent all users of the web site. Data on the number of user sessions on the web site each day reflected a very large spike in usage during a winter weather event in December. This provides evidence of the importance of these types of systems during severe weather.
A focus group and mail-out questionnaire indicated that frequent users of the Traffic TV service rated it very highly, often using it to change travel routes for a particular journey. The survey also indicated that many of the users discovered the service while changing channels on their TV sets, indicating a low public awareness of the service.
Metro Online, a web site providing route and schedule information for the Seattle area bus system, provides a valuable service to its users. Many users indicated that they had been long term users of the service. Several recommended potential improvements to the site, including improvements to the route planning and transfer sections of the site.
Customer satisfaction was also high for Transit Watch, a system that provides actual arrival and departure information for passengers at key transit centers. Transit riders indicated that they would like to see the information available at places where travel decisions are made. Another notable finding was that the system did not increase the satisfaction of existing riders with the transit system as a whole, however new riders were pleased with the system, which may indicate that it could help the bus network retain these new transit patrons.
The Fastline system, designed to provide pre-trip and en-route traveler information through personal digital assistants (PDAs), experienced very low usage during the MMDI project. The lack of a significant marketing campaign and the limited number of PDAs supported by the software limited the market penetration of the service. Limited evidence on those travelers who did make use of this system indicated that they did change their behavior based on the information received.
The Seattle metropolitan area had a considerably high level of ITS implementation prior to the MMDI projects, therefore the experiences of localities implementing these systems under differing conditions may vary significantly from those reported in Seattle.
The focus group conducted to assess customer satisfaction with the Traffic TV service determined that the service was appreciated, but participants had many problems with the initial implementation and numerous suggestions for improvement. Many of these suggestions involved improving the presentation of traffic information, through better visuals and adding an audio track. ("Customer Satisfaction Evaluation Overview: National Synthesis," Draft MMDI Report [document in preparation at time of report])
For additional detail on the customer satisfaction evaluation of the WSDOT traveler information web site, see: Cluett, Christopher. "Traveler's Use of the WSDOT Traffic Conditions Web Site: Customer Satisfaction Evaluation." FHWA Report. Washington, DC: 2000.
Impacts of Supplementing Web-Based Urban Freeway ATIS With Parallel Arterial Travel-Time Data, November 2000.
ITS Impacts Assessment for Seattle MMDI Evaluation: Modeling Methodology and Results, September 1999.
Analyzing the Effects of Web-based Traffic Information and Weather Events in the Seattle Puget Sound Region: Draft Report, October 2000.
Science Applications International Corporation. Cross Jurisdictional Signal Coordination in Phoenix & Seattle: Removing Barriers to Seamless Arterial Travel. U.S. Department of Transportation. Washington, DC: 2000.
Phoenix Metropolitan Model Deployment Initiative Evaluation Report, April 2000.
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