An end of an era: 1 (800)-COMMUTE to be phased out

Metro announced last week that that 1 (800) Commute — known to you and me as The Number to dial for transportation information — will only be available through June of next year. Taking its place is the new 511 system launched last spring and a new local number: 323-Go-Metro.

The press release (available after the jump) stated that Metro will conduct an extensive public information campaign to notify people of the upcoming change. A quick Google search by yours truly suggested this could be a monumental task: some 1.2 million web pages (or just 20,400 if you put “1 (800) Commute” in quotes) mention the phone number.

Metro will have to motivate thousands of web masters for a diverse array of businesses to change the phone number. Based on a quick glance from the first 20 pages of Google Search results, they will range from L.A. Pierce College; a page which gives directions on where to test drive the Nissan Leaf; the Metro Silver Line Facebook page; the City of Ojai; and the Carlsbad Premium Outlets.

Metro implements new transit information number 323.GO.METRO

The well-known telephone number 1.800.COMMUTE, funded by Caltrans for transportation information in Los Angeles County, is being discontinued. Metro will now provide bus and rail information through a new easy-to-remember number 323.GO.METRO (323) 466-3876.

While the phone number is changing, the service remains the same. Metro’s Customer Information agents will continue to handle approximately 50,000 calls a week from riders seeking assistance with bus and rail trip planning.

Other travel, traffic and commuter/rideshare information, which was also provided through 1.800.COMMUTE, can now be accessed by calling 511.

Metro customers will see a direct benefit when dialing the new 323.GO.METRO number as calls will go directly to Metro’s Telephone Information Center, where an agent will assist the public with fares, routes, schedules and trip planning requests. Metro customers will not have to navigate a “phone tree” to reach a live telephone information agent.

Due to state budget constraints and the recent emergence of the 511 phone number, which provides similar access, Caltrans opted to discontinue the 1.800.COMMUTE number. The cost of operating 1.800.COMMUTE is approximately $800,000 annually. Metro’s cost for maintaining the 323.GO.METRO number is estimated at $12,000 annually.

In mid-November, Caltrans will place a message on 1.800.COMMUTE announcing to callers that the number will be discontinued. The message will instruct them to start using 323.GO.METRO (323) 466-3876. In addition, Metro is mounting an extensive outreach campaign to inform customers of the change.

While 323.GO.METRO is not a toll-free number, calling the number from most areas of Los Angeles County will not result in a toll charge to the caller. In addition, Customer Relations finds that most callers now use cell phones, which generally do not incur toll charges.

Categories: Policy & Funding, Transportation News

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4 replies

  1. Remember that 1.800.COMMUTE is also on the exterior of every bus and on platform maps. Those have to be changed or removed. Never mind the of the four foot square maps at rapid stops that are so dated they show the purple line as a branch of the red line.

  2. I agree totally with Heather! God forbid, Metro Customer Relations makes itself available during ALL the hours that its riders ride the buses (like from 5 a.m.-11 p.m.!). Just part of the MTA’s way of maintaining an ANTI-RIDER FOCUS that it is SO GOOD AT!

  3. Eh, unless it’s available at times that aren’t 9 – 5 Weekdays, it’s still totally useless.

  4. I see that 1-800-commute is disappearing. But I don’t know why the new number, is it because caltrans will stop funding the 1-800 number. Because if so, all the time and money that has gone to promoting 1-800 commuted will be a total waste.

    In my personal opinion, we should try as hard as possible to keep 1-800-commute #.