5-1-1, initially designated for road weather information, is a transportation and traffic information telephone hotline in some regions of the United States and Canada. Travelers can dial the three-digit telephone number 5-1-1 on traditional landline telephones and most mobile phones. It is an N11 code of the North American Numbering Plan that are used for special services. The number code has also extended to be the default name of many state/provincial transportation department road conditions websites, such as Wisconsin's site.
Some 5-1-1 services have a scope which is basically limited to information for drivers regarding road conditions and traffic. Other services provide this, but have a wider scope, also providing information on public transit, carpooling, etc.
5-1-1 services in the United States are organized by state or region. Because the associated websites are often a vital part of 5-1-1 services, this article has an extensive External Links section.
In the United States
History and Implementation
As of March 2001, at least 300 telephone numbers existed for travel information systems in the United States. To overcome the confusion caused by this array of numbers, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a national assignment of a single three-digit N11 dialing code. On July 21, 2000, the FCC assigned 511 as a nationwide telephone number for ITS traveler information, along with 2-1-1 for social services. Its use is being promoted by the USDOT's Intelligent Transport Systems initiative.
The first 511 traveler information system to launch was in the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky metropolitan area in June 2001.
Eight states, from Alaska to Maine, pooled resources and expertise to develop the 511 voice-activated phone service for travelers. Led by the Iowa DOT, the multistate consortium received $700,000 from the Federal Highway Administration to help pay for system design and software development. Each state also provided a 20 percent matching fund, boosting total funds to nearly $900,000. In addition to Iowa, the participating states in the consortium (as of 2011) are Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Sacramento Area Council of Governments, and Vermont.
Individual states have the lead role in coordinating 511 deployments. National leadership is provided by the 511 Deployment Coalition. Led by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and including travel information experts from more than 30 organizations, the Coalition has developed voluntary guidelines for state transportation agencies to follow when planning 511 service for their states or regions. Other leading member organizations of the Coalition include the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Active 511 systems (in order of deployment date) as of January 31, 2010:
- Cincinnati, Ohio and Northern Kentucky
- Orlando, Florida
- Washington State
- South Dakota
- Kentucky statewide
- Los Angeles and Southern California
- San Francisco Bay Area
- North Dakota
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- Sacramento, California and Northern California
- Tampa, Florida
- Rhode Island
- Florida statewide, except for the southwest region
- Jacksonville, Florida
- San Diego
- Southwestern Florida
- St. Louis, Missouri
- California Eastern Sierra
- Eastern Massachusetts
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- Nova Scotia
- New York
- Inland Empire (California)
- West Virginia
The FCC designated 511 as the national traveler information number. Virginia’s 511 system began in the Shenandoah Valley in 2000 and went statewide in early 2005. Currently both the 511virginia.org website and calling 511 from any land line or mobile phone provides statewide travelling information. Alternatively, there is now a 511 VDOT app for iOS and Android devices.
Florida has an active 511 system that underwent an overhaul in 2009.
This statewide Georgia Navigator system provides traffic, MARTA/GRTA and other public transport, rideshare, Clean Air Campaign, Atlanta and Savannah airport, Amtrak, Greyhound, weather and tourism information in an interactive voice response (IVR) format. Callers are also given the option of connecting to live operators at the Georgia Department of Transportation's Transportation Management Center in Atlanta. Connecting to operators allows users to report traffic accidents to the Georgia State Patrol or local police or sheriffs, or request motorist assistance from the Highway Emergency Response Operators (HERO) program. Callers can also connect to adjacent states' 5-1-1 systems, including North Carolina's.
In January 2011, the Georgia Department of Transportation launched a mobile application on the iPhone platform to provide iPhone users with a mobile option for up to the minute traffic information found on the website. The application also provides special offers and other information about businesses and organizations who participate in the program.
Georgia actually had a system for years before this, using only live operators, and the code *DOT (*368), which could not necessarily be used by those mobile phone users who were roaming from elsewhere, as these codes are specific to each phone company. A local 404 number in metro Atlanta and a toll-free 800 number were used for these and landline calls, and still serve as backup for mobile providers that fail to connect.
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation has implemented a service that helps commuters and travelers access information regarding weather-related road conditions, construction and congestion, via the Web or mobile device 24/7. The site can be found at www.511nh.com. New Hampshire is part of an 8-state consortium that is sharing the cost to design and develop the system.
511 New York is established and administered by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). Basic service was launched in the New York City metropolitan area in late 2008. Statewide coverage and more sophisticated services will be added throughout 2009. 511 NY – “Get Connected to Go” is the umbrella brand of The New York State Department of Transportation for traffic, transit and travel information. The 511 New York theme line is: Get Connected to Go. The tag line is: New York State’s Official Traffic and Travel Info Source. The credit line is: A Free Service of the New York State Department of Transportation.
In the New York metropolitan area 5-1-1 provides information on bus, subway, and commuter rail mass transit systems in addition to road conditions and traffic information.
In the summer of 2007, the original vendor was removed and services were redesigned and improved using Meridian Environmental Technology. The effort to redesign and improve service undertaken [summer of 2007] to revamp WYDOT's 511 Travel Information telephone service is paying benefits this winter, based on recent customer feedback.
Some of the additional features are:
- Ability to choose neighboring states that provide 511 information
- Voice recognition, with the option to revert to touchtone keypad input
- Ability to choose route-specific information or regional summaries
- Agency capability to include Alerts (Amber, Homeland, customized)
The West Virginia Department of Transportation's free 511 Traveler Information System provides real-time traffic information, including congestion, construction, lane closures, road conditions and severe weather information on all West Virginia interstates and other major highways. The resource is available 24 hours a day via phone by dialing 511 or online at WV511.org. WV 511 advisories also are available from the WV 511 Drive Safe mobile app and via statewide, regional and roadway-specific Twitter feeds. The public safety alerts (such as Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts) carried on 511 are voluntary, cooperative partnerships among law enforcement, WVDOT, other agencies and local broadcasters. WVDOT uses overhead electronic message signs and 511 to get public safety alerts out to the public. 511 was implemented in West Virginia in 2012.
In addition to the phone service, travelers in the San Francisco Bay Area can access transit and traffic information on a website, which provides information on mass transit schedules and an interactive trip planner, which will provide an optimal routing between a given origin, destination, and optional time constraints. In addition, 511.org provides information on bicycling, ridesharing, and the toll road system FasTrak. 511.org is a service of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and was designed by the transportation engineering company Parsons Brinckerhoff, Farradyne (now Telvent Farradyne). The system had a fair amount of controversy when it was announced that it would use FasTrak electronic toll tags to track vehicles as they traversed Bay Area freeways. 511 has since stopped using FasTrak toll tag data to provide Driving times. Driving times are now derived from GPS probe vehicle-based traffic speed data that 511 purchases from INRIX, Inc.
Users of the San Diego area have access to road, transit, and other information via the phone and web. They can access transit information on a website, which provides information on mass transit schedules and an interactive trip planner, which will provide an optimal routing between a given origin, destination, and optional time constraints. In addition, 511sd.com provides information on bicycling, ridesharing, and the toll road system Fastrak. 511sd.com is a service of the San Diego Association of Governments, and was designed by the company ICx Technologies and PB Farradyne (now Telvent Farradyne).
Elsewhere in the United States
Similar services are operated in other cities and states; for example, the Minnesota Department of Transportation operates a website for traffic and road condition information. Central Florida is claimed to have the most-used 511 system in the nation, on a per capita basis.
Washington state and Oregon both operate their own 511 system. The Washington state 511 system has an option to transfer to the Oregon 511 system to help users in the Portland metropolitan area to access the right system for them.
See also External Links.
In January 2005, the consortium filed an application to assign the 5-1-1 access code in Canada. It proposed that in addition to traffic, the number would report weather, which also has a major impact on traffic, particularly in a country with such harsh winters. The application was approved by the CRTC in Canada on July 28, 2006.
British Columbia began loose implementation of 5-1-1 service in late 2009/early 2010. This replaced the interim mobile service provided by *4997 (*HWYS) which had been in place on Rogers, Telus Mobility and Bell Mobility. BC 5-1-1 service is available to Telus, Telus Mobility and Telus MiKE clients at this time. Full service NOT utilizing 5-1-1 is available via DriveBC (a government website/phone line) at www.drivebc.ca or by phone across North America at 1-800-550-4997 (HWYS).
Alberta unveiled its 5-1-1 road report service on February 4, 2013.
Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario,Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the Yukon Territory each have 5-1-1 systems. Most provinces and territories without 5-1-1 systems have other road information hotlines, accessible by dialing various phone numbers.
- "511wi | Home". 511wi.gov. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- "511 Guidelines Version 3.0" (PDF). September 2005. p. 5. Retrieved April 7, 2007.
- "FCC designates 511 traffic information number". Civil Engineering. 70 (9): 12. September 2000.
- "511 Deployment Status", USDOT. Retrieved on March 3, 2008
- "Nebraska 511 Information", USDOT. Retrieved on June 12, 2009
- "Deploy511.org". Deploy511.org. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- "511virginia.org". 511virginia.org. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
- "TN511.com". TN511.com. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- "511.ky.gov". 511.ky.gov. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- "Dial 511 for transportation information". Atlanta Journal Constitution. August 15, 2007. Retrieved August 15, 2006.
- "About 511". New Hampshire Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
- "Post-gazette.com". Post-gazette.com. 2012-03-16. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- "WYDOT suspends 511 to make service improvements". Wyoming DOT News. July 3, 2007.
- "Revamped 511 Travel Information service increases customer satisfaction". Wyoming DOT News. February 11, 2008.
- "West Virginia 511 - Know Before You Go". West Virginia Department of Transportation. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
- "511.org". 511.org. 2012-05-10. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- "Telvent Farradyne corporate site". 2006. Retrieved November 15, 2006.
- FasTrak Application and License Agreement, Toll Tags: section, last subsection: You agree that the Toll Tag may be read to provide anonymous traffic flow data to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s ‘511’ project, a real time traffic information service. No information identifying a FasTrak account, person or vehicle using the Toll Tag will be collected by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission or ‘511’.
- "San Francisco re-ups SAIC unit for 511". October 2006. Retrieved March 15, 2007.
- "Central Florida 511 system nation's most used". Orlando Business Journal. August 4, 2006. Retrieved November 15, 2006.
- "ITS Canada Project 511". Intelligent Transportation Systems Society of Canada. Archived from the original on July 4, 2010. Retrieved June 14, 2010.
ITS Canada has initiated an effort to establish the 511 telephone number as an automated 'weather and traveller information service' number in Canada. ... ITS Canada has developed a 'Canada 511 Consortium'... .
- Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (July 28, 2006). "Telecom Decision CRTC 006-44: Applications for assignment of the 5-1-1 access code". Government of Canada. Archived from the original on August 21, 2006. Retrieved November 15, 2006.
- Sibley, Kathleen (March 2, 2007). "Road to national 511 service is littered with speed bumps". Computing Canada. 33 (3). ISSN 0319-0161. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
That's because, while Environment Canada is spearheading the weather information service, the other portion is the responsibility of the provinces, not all of whom have the same interest in (or resources to participate in) the project. And that, say experts, could leave a good part of the undertaking in the ditch.
- Lombardi, Rosie (May 20, 2008). "511 service off to slow start in Canada". ComputerWorld Canada. IT World Canada. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
But the initiative appears to have lost momentum.
- "Alberta set to launch new 511 service". Retrieved February 4, 2013.
Alberta’s provincial government is set to unveil its new 511 road report service on Monday.
- "Alberta road conditions, road reports and traffic cams".
- "Manitoba 511 - Road and Traveller Information".
- "What other services come with my Cogeco Home Phone service?". Cogeco Home Phone FAQ. Cogeco Cable Inc. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
511 is a quick way to contact the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. From this line, you can obtain traffic, weather and road condition reports across the province.
- "Home Phone Service". Distributel Communications Ltd. website. Archived from the original on June 30, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
5-1-1 is a free service that allows callers to find out about road conditions, report transportation incidents, make comments or complaints, and obtain other general information pertaining to transportation. 5-1-1 is available in Ontario and Quebec and is intended for non-emergency inquiries.Click either of the "Available services" tabs to see the original quoted text.
- "Ontario 511 - About Ontario 511". MTO. Government of Ontario. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
Ontario 511 is an Ontario Ministry of Transportation telephone service that provides the public with voice-activated, hands-free information on provincial highways: Road closures, Winter road conditions, and Construction projects
- "Traffic Advisories / Road Construction Report". New Brunswick Department of Transportation website. Archived from the original on June 16, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
For Road Conditions Dial 511 within New Brunswick
- "Road Conditions - 511". Nova Scotia Department of Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal website. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
- "Prince Edward Island to introduce 511 system". Prince Edward Island Department of Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal website. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
- "Transportation & Travel Information". Town of Faro website. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
Dial 511 from any touch-tone phone in the Yukon for the current road report
- Luebke, Bruce A. "Road Conditions and Construction Information". Drivers Daily Log website. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
This list below provides phone number and Web site information by state for road conditions and road construction forecasts in the United States and Canada.
Region-specific 511 sites
- California – Greater Los Angeles Area
- California – Sacramento Area
- California – San Diego Area
- California – San Francisco Bay Area
- California – San Luis Obispo County
- Florida – Jacksonville Florida Area
- Florida – Southeast Florida Area
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Northern New England – New Hampshire
- Northern New England – Vermont
- Southwest Ohio – Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- Federal Highway Administration 511 website, a source of official information
- 511 Deployment Coalition, a United States 511 advocacy group
- Canadian 511-related news updates
- Contact info for the Canada 511 Consortium