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Washington State DOT launches voice-driven portal for travel information

For more than two years, state of Washington officials have been talking up a plan to provide a "511" phone system that would enable drivers to access information on current weather, congestion and road conditions. They’re pretty much done talking. On Jan. 13, Washington State Department of Transportation announced it had deployed Phase I of the voice-driven telephone system.

Developed by Avaya, Interactive Northwest and Nuance, the 511 system offers voice-driven access to real-time traffic reports, along with continually updated roadway incident and construction information, express-lane status, mountain-pass road conditions and weather information. It connects callers directly to the state’s ferry system, and provides "800" numbers for passenger rail and airlines.

"We wanted a more streamlined solution for the consumer, one that would provide access to all traveler information through a single voice-driven portal," said Washington State DOT Chief Information Officer Bill O’Brien in a prepared statement.

The 511 service currently is available within several communities, and the state plans to extend the service statewide, as well as to major metropolitan areas in neighboring states. DOT also plans to make system refinements based on consumer feedback.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/13/2003