An Evaluation Study of a Low-Cost, Telephone-Based Traveler Information System
The purpose of this study is to assess the advantages and limitations of a low-cost, telephone-based traveler information system through the analysis of Fastline, a free, dial-in, traffic information service. Fastline is particularly well suited to this study because, unlike many other Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS), it is already in use in the San Francisco Bay Area. Fastline is easily accessible and requires neither infrastructure development nor technology development; rather, it uses existing infrastructure and technology. This evaluation of the Fastline system is based upon user perceptions of the system's capacity to provide them with the information they need, desire, and will use to help pre-plan trips and encourage changes in trip-making behavior. Changes in trip characteristics, such as route choice, trip start-time, and perhaps, mode choice, may occur based upon the information provided by the system. The key to the study is an assessment of the degree to which users avail themselves of information to consider alternate route and/or mode choice, and to waht degree the alternatives considered effect trip-making behavior. A review of other ATIS projects indicates that there are varying levels of technological complexity and system accuracy leasing to use or non-use of such systems. This research is designed to assess system user's expectations and experiences, as well as the resulting changes, if any, in their trip-making behavior. Thus, the intent of this study is to determine 1) information user's consider important; 2) system use patterns; 3) user's evaluation of the information service attributes such as accuracy, timeliness, and ease of use; and 4) alteration of trip-making behavior due to system information. If a telephone-based forum of Advanced Traveler Information System can produce desired results, it can be implememnted in other urban areas as a low-cost means of helping to reduce traffic congestion, reduce automobile emissions and potentially increase transit use.