MYNORTHWEST NEWS

5-1-1 traveler alert number is now a thing of the past

May 19, 2023, 9:07 AM | Updated: 10:19 am

stuck in traffic...

Seattle traffic. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Washington state has decided to discontinue the traveler alert 5-1-1 phone number, and the number was officially retired on May 18.

It’s been around for 20 years, and has given callers road and pass conditions, crash alerts and ferry information.

But, fewer people are calling the number, probably because of smart phones and better technology elsewhere.

Despite high call volumes in the early years of the program, during the past decade, the number has shown a steady decrease in usage. In 2009, 511 had more than 2.2 million calls but in 2022 that number fell to less than 302,000 calls.

WA Ferries experiences high demand for summer reservations

The 5-1-1 phone number is also expensive. It costs more than $150,000 a year and requires many staff hours to continually update travel information.

While 511 is being discontinued, there still are many ways travelers in the state can receive timely and accurate travel information, including the Washington State Department of Transportation app, WSDOT’s website with real-time travel maps, social media accounts, electronic highway variable message signs and highway radio stations.

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