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Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters
Remarks as prepared for delivery
511 Go-Live Event
August 25, 2004, Greensboro, North Carolina

I'm glad to be at the Galyon Depot here in Greensboro. When all phases of the depot are complete, it will be the state's largest transportation center for local, regional and long-distance buses -- trains are set to return next year.

President Bush, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, and Federal Highways want to improve commuting time for all Americans, whether they're on the road to work, coming back home to their families, or on the way to a ball game or a movie. We all know that relieving congestion -- and helping drivers avoid congested areas -- is important to our quality of life and vital to keeping our economy moving in the right direction.

That's why the Bush Administration is promoting innovative programs and new technologies to help take the stress and uncertainty out of traveling.

511 service is an important tool in that effort. The service will help North Carolina drivers get to where they need to go and get there on time. As close as your home phone or cell phone, 511 will provide real-time information on traffic, weather and road conditions, plus transit, rail and ferry information, for North Carolina travelers.

511 is user friendly . . . travel information at your fingertips. Folks will be making the call before setting out for Asheville, Charlotte, Wilmington, or just across town. By providing callers with access to current travel conditions statewide, you will know the situation ahead of time and can decide on whether to actually make the trip, alter your route, or choose a different mode of transportation.

It is all part of a national effort to provide convenient travel information to the public through the telephone. The service will save time and save lives.

Why is 511 needed? Before 511 was assigned for travel information, more than 300 different telephone numbers provided travel information in the U.S. During a test drive in 1999 from Washington, DC to New York City, 11 different telephone numbers were required to make an "informed" trip.

As 10-digit phone numbers and new area codes proliferate, it is clear that a single easy-to-remember number with local travel information would greatly help local and interstate travelers and shippers. Arizona, my home state, received its one millionth 511 call last month.

The Bush administration is working to make 511 service available across the country, so that drivers and businesses can more easily plan trips, anywhere, anytime. U.S. DOT is working with a coalition that includes the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, and the American Public Transportation Association to spread 511 throughout America. In parts of the country where 511 is already available, as many as 97 percent of drivers who use it say they have changed their travel routes because of the helpful information provided. By the end of 2005, we expect half the population will have access to 511 services. There's no silver bullet answer to the problem of congestion. We have to make the best use of our resources -- 511 is a big part of the solution. Greensboro and North Carolina are doing it right!


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