The Telecom Digest for July 09, 2010
Volume 29 : Issue 185 : "text" Format
Messages in this Issue:
New traffic information system continues to befuddle drivers who miss the old 511 (Monty Solomon)
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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 2010 01:34:55 -0400
From: Monty Solomon <email@example.com>
Subject: New traffic information system continues to befuddle drivers who miss the old 511
STARTS & STOPS
New traffic information system continues to befuddle drivers who miss
the old 511
By Eric Moskowitz, Globe Staff | July 4, 2010
The Boston Globe
Just as the e-mails from people pining for the old 511 traffic
information system were starting to subside, I found myself stuck in
traffic last week and decided to give the new system another try. On
Tuesday night I was driving from the Globe toward Cambridge at a
later hour than usual and forgot about the roadwork on the Central
Artery that has closed multiple lanes and the Storrow Drive exit
(Exit 26) in the late night hours.
So at 11:04 p.m., after crawling a mile and a half in 12 minutes, I
decided to dial 511, just to see what it would say about the
conditions and wondering if it would tell me when the road would
clear. The female robot voice on the other end asked me to type in
the number for my route or highway. Before I could dial 93 for
Interstate 93 northbound, it helpfully offered that I could press 5
for the "Boston-Cambridge Arteries.'' Given that I was following the
Central Artery in Boston, bound for Cambridge, I did.
"All segments of the Boston-Cambridge Arteries are clear,'' the robot
voice said, offering no other details, not even an average speed or
travel time. At that moment I was not moving at all, in a halting
stop-and-go progression before the mouth of the Tip O'Neill Tunnel.
The next day I contacted Sendza executive John Bernardi, who has told
me multiple times how much progress Sendza has made in improving its
system since a Memorial Day launch, even as I have heard from a
succession of drivers who miss the old SmartRoute 511 system and have
given up on the new one.
"Understandable,'' he wrote in an e-mail reply. "The Boston-Cambridge
arteries in 511 are Storrow, Memorial, and Soldiers Field Road. It
sounds like you wanted traffic on I-93, which was full of incidents
last night.'' Yes, it was.
As those who follow local transportation know, the old system,
operated by the human traffic reporters at SmartRoute, offered
recorded reports that gave context and used the local vernacular,
like the Southeast Expressway or the Schrafft's Building for roads,
landmarks, and exits. They told you why a route was backed up, how
long it would be that way, and how to avoid it via alternate routes,
with live operators standing by to offer more help.
The Sendza system is computerized and does not offer alternate
routes; when a road is busy, it tells the average speed and travel
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