New system unveiled to help outsmart traffic

LOS ANGELES The new system is called "511." And it will provide Southland travelers with updates on traffic, trip planning, public transit, and connections with carpools and vanpools.

According to Jose Ubaldo of Metro, the service, which will debut in a "test mode" on Monday, will include the new automated telephone number -- 511 -- and a website,

Both the 511 number and the website cover Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties; and the website will also cover Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The 511 traveler services are provided by the Los Angeles Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies, also known as LA SAFE; in partnership with Metro, the Orange County Transportation Authority, the Ventura County Transportation commission, the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans.

Ken Coleman, one of the designers with LA SAFE, says the 511 system is easy to use.

"In the morning if you are at home you can get on your computer and go to There you can take a look at our traffic maps. If you are interested in transit, there is a trip plan option," he said. "Or you can pick up your cell phone or landline and dial 511 to get your information."

The service will also include information on bicycle routes, links to area airports and taxi services and weather reports.

The 511 number and website are being fine tuned and new features are planned, such as making the information accessible on mobile devices and in Spanish.

In Los Angeles County, Metro will continue to offer its (800) COMMUTE telephone number, which is staffed by operators weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., for information in English and Spanish.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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