PennDOT's 511PA system very active in its first year
Pennsylvania's 511PA system has offered vital "Travel Info to Go" to tens of thousands of people during its first full year of operation, Transportation Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E., said.
511PA is available by calling 511 or is accessed online by visiting www.511PA.com.
In its first year, the website was visited more than 697,000 times and the phone system was used more than 490,000 times.
"511PA is proving itself to be a valuable tool for people traveling in Pennsylvania," Biehler said. "We're reminding motorists that the system is accessible around-the-clock and provides a host of services - from live traffic views to personalized travel alerts; it's all available on 511PA."
The most-visited page on the 511PA website is PennDOT's network of more than 500 traffic cameras, with more than 1.8 million camera views. During its first full year of service, the most-viewed camera on 511PA was the one located at the Cresson Summit Interchange on U.S. 22 near Altoona. Callers to 511PA requested information on Interstate 81 nearly 26,000 times during that past year, followed closely by slightly more than 24,000 requests for information on Interstate 80.
The majority of calls, more than 23 percent, originated from the Philadelphia region followed closely by Harrisburg (16.4 percent), Scranton (13.4 percent) and Pittsburgh (13.1 percent).
Monthly calls and website visits peaked in February, when severe winter storms struck the state. More than 100,000 calls and 193,000 website visits were received that month.
A unique feature of 511PA is that users are able to register through the website to receive personalized traveler alerts, which are then provided through email and text messaging. Nearly 8,300 people now subscribe to this service.
Currently, the 511PA roadway network includes all 1,759 miles of interstate in Pennsylvania including the Pennsylvania Turnpike, as well as other major roadways in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Traffic information for the majority of this network includes incident reports such as crashes, construction activities and winter road conditions. Additionally, average traffic speeds and slow down reports are available for several interstates and other major roadways in urban areas.
Future plans for 511PA call for the addition of 630 miles of state roads to the reporting network by late this year and providing a 511 feed via Twitter. Longer-term plans call for other enhancements to the system, including making traffic camera images available on mobile devices.
In an effort to provide the most reliable information to travelers, 511PA does not update until PennDOT is able to verify that an incident is occurring either through its traffic camera network or through confirmed reports from state and local police. Crashes and other delays beyond PennDOT's control, such as vehicle breakdowns, are not immediately available on the system and travelers may encounter traffic delays before that information is posted on 511PA.
In addition to travel conditions on Pennsylvania interstates, 511PA also provides weather information, links to transit agencies and major airports as well as tourism information.
PennDOT urges motorists to avoid calling 511PA while driving. Motorists should safely pull off the road before calling the system, or check online for travel delays before leaving home.
The Federal Communications Commission designated 511 as the nationwide three-digit telephone number for traveler information.