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How's the traffic out there? Call 511

June 10, 2010 |  9:46 am

Starting Thursday, commuters in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties will be able to get 24-hour on-demand updates on traffic, public transit and carpool connections by dialing 511 or visiting GO511.com.

The automated, toll-free phone and Internet service also will provide bike-riding information, links to area airports and taxi services and local weather reports, organizers said.

“Our goal is to give commuters a one-stop shop for traffic information, levels of transit and commuter services,” said Ken Coleman, program manager for LA SAFE. “In this day and age, it’s a lot harder and expensive to build infrastructure. 511 gives users the opportunity to access existing systems, such as Caltrans and the CHP, and get their databases in a package.”

Coleman said the system would allow commuters to make the best choices about commuting and avoiding traffic accidents and congestion.

Officials are fine-tuning the system to make it accessible to mobile devices and Spanish speakers. Users are encouraged to provide feedback via phone or the Internet.

LA SAFE, or Los Angeles County Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies, is working on the project with Metro, the CHP, Caltrans and other transportation agencies.

-- Ann M. Simmons