FAQ

General


What is Southern California 511?
511 is a free phone number and website that provides traffic, public transit and commuter service information to Southern California. Call 511 or visit Go511.com to get all the information you need to make smart traveling decisions: check traffic speeds, plan a trip on a bus or train, and find a carpool or vanpool partner. 511 will help improve your commute and keep you informed about travel conditions both before you leave the house and while you are on the road.

How did 511 get started?
The U.S. Department of Transportation petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1999 for a three-digit telephone number to make it easier for consumers to access travel information services. The FCC assigned "511" to the transportation community July 21, 2000. The term “511” has now become synonymous with traveler information. Information provided by 511 services varies widely both by provider (ranging from state Departments of Transportation to local transportation and transit agencies) and by information provided (from traffic delays and weather to transit and tourism information). To find out more about 511 services visit the 511 Deployment Coalition Website.

511 Logo

How do I connect to 511 in Southern California and other areas?
To connect to 511, you need to call from an area where the service is provided. If you are having trouble reaching 511 from your phone, or want to access a 511 system in an area other than Southern California, you can call a toll free number to “back into” the system. The back-in number for Southern California 511 is 877.22.Go511. To find back-in numbers or websites for other 511 systems in the country, visit Surrounding 511 Systems.

What area does Southern California 511 cover?
Southern California 511 supplies information about five counties: Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura. You can reach 511 by calling from Los Angeles, Orange or Ventura Counties or by dialing 877.22.Go511 outside of Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties.

San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego Counties operate separate 511 systems. To reach them, call 511 from those counties, or call their back-in 1-800 numbers.

What information can I get from 511?
When you call 511, you have the option to get information about traffic, public transit and commuter services (carpool and vanpool). 511 can give you traffic reports for specific highways, transfer you to a bus or train agency and help you find a carpool or vanpool partner in your area. All of this information and more is also available by visiting Go511.com.

When can I use 511?
You can call 511 or visit Go511.com 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

How is 511 information different from a regular traffic report on the radio?
With 511, you will receive considerably more route-specific information than you hear on the news, and you can access the information on-demand, whenever you need it.

How often is the information updated?
Information on the site is continually updated. Traffic information is updated every minute. Public transit and carpool/vanpool information is kept as current as possible.

Is there a Spanish-language 511?
Currently, Go511.com and the 511 phone service are available in English. In the near future 511 will be available in Spanish as well.

How accessible is 511 for someone who has a vision, speech or hearing impairment?
Go511.com is designed to meet the accessibility policies of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

When calling 511, hearing-impaired users can call the California Relay Service at 711 and ask to be connected to Southern California's 511 service through 877.22.Go511 (877.224.6511). Speech-impaired users can Press *8 (*T) to switch from Voice to the Touch Tone commands. When in Touch Tone mode, users can navigate 511 using the touch keypad only.

Where does the information come from?
Go511 uses a variety of traveler information sources, including California Highway Patrol, Caltrans and transit agencies from across our reporting area (specifically, Los Angeles County, Orange County, Ventura County, San Bernardino County and Riverside County).

What if I only want information for my county?
On the Website, you can choose a county at the top right side of any page:

  • LA – Los Angeles
  • OC – Orange County
  • RC – Riverside County
  • SB – San Bernardino County
  • VC – Ventura County

Once you choose a county, information on the Website will be tailored for that county only.

How can I make the site look bigger on my screen?
Simply hold down the control key while pressing the plus (+) key. This will enlarge the site. To make it smaller, hold down the control key while pressing the minus (-) key.

511 on the Phone


Where can I find extra help or a tutorial for 511?
Visit our 511 on the Phone web tutorial to learn tips and tricks to help you navigate through 511 and get the information you want, faster.

Why can’t 511 understand me?
511 is voice activated and sometimes picks up not only voices, but background noise, too. Background noise from radios, nearby conversations, vehicles and street noise may interfere with the 511’s ability to understand what you’re saying.

If rolling up the windows, turning down the music or finding a quiet spot doesn’t help, another option is to use your touch-tone keypad. Simply press *8 at anytime to switch from voice to touch-tone commands.

Is there a charge to call 511?
There is no cost for using the 511 telephone service. Normal mobile rates apply to cell phone calls.

Why doesn’t 511 work when I call from my cell phone?
If you can’t connect to 511, your telephone company most likely does not provide access to it. We currently provide 511 access for most of the Southern California region. Landline carriers include, but are not limited to, Verizon and AT&T. Wireless providers are AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. If you can’t connect to 511 using one of these providers, contact them directly. In the meantime, you can call 877.22.Go511 to access Southern California 511.

If you do not see your telephone provider listed above, contact us. 511 continually works with telephone providers in the area to ensure 511 works for most callers.

If you are calling from a centralized phone system such as a Private Business Exchange (PBX), you might not be able to access 511. PBXs are systems that allow for four-digit calling within your business. Therefore, you may need to take a few simple steps to program your PBX to allow for 511 calling. If you need help with programming questions, please contact your PBX vendor.

Traffic


What kind of traffic information is available?
On Go511.com, a map with color-coded traffic speeds helps you instantly see areas to avoid and where the traffic is moving slowly. You can also see where there are road closures, incidents, Sigalerts and bad road conditions. The map allows you to view live cameras along the roadways to give you a snapshot of current road conditions.

Calling 511 will give you traffic speeds, incidents and travel times on many Southern California roadways.

Where do I find traffic information?
On Go511.com, go to the Traffic page by selecting Traffic from the Main Menu from anywhere on the site or selecting “Live Freeway Traffic Info” from the map on the left side of the page.

When calling 511, simply say “traffic” and indicate the area for which you want traffic information. 511 will report traffic speeds, incidents and travel times in that area.

What roads are covered by the system?
Information is provided for all major roadways in Southern California, including interstate, state and federal highways. In the future, 511 will also provide traffic information for major arterial roads.

How often is traffic information updated?
Traffic information is updated every minute.

What is a SigAlert?
A SigAlert is any unplanned event that causes the closing of one lane of traffic for 30 minutes or more.

Regional Guaranteed Ride Home Program

What is the Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) program?
It is "commuter insurance" for those who carpool, take transit, vanpool, bicycle or walk to work on the day the emergency ride is needed. The Regional GRH Program allows you to choose the most efficient means to get where you need to go during a qualified emergency. If you are without your car and experience an emergency, the GRH Program will reimburse your ride, whether you choose a one-way taxi ride, one-day car rental, or transit ticket (public bus, Metro Rail or Metrolink).

How does GRH work?
GRH is designed to be as easy to use as possible, with minimal administration.

  • The employer worksite must be located in the County of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside or San Bernardino.
  • To participate, your company must enroll by completing a Service Agreement (in Los Angeles or Orange Counties) or an Employer Partnership Agreement (in Riverside or San Bernardino Counties) and meet the requirements outlined by each agency.
  • Employers must designate an employer representative to administer the GRH Program, agree to adhere to the GRH Guidelines, and distribute materials designed for the program.
  • Once the employer enrolls in the GRH Program, all employees who rideshare to work are eligible for the GRH reimbursement. Employees do not sign up individually.
  • The Regional GRH Program allows ridesharing employees to choose the most efficient means to get where they need to go during a qualified emergency. The GRH Program will reimburse a one-way taxi ride, one-day car rental, or transit ticket (public bus, Metro Rail, or Metrolink) to get them to their destination.
  • Depending on your company’s internal GRH policy, either the employer or the employee will pay up-front for the employee’s selected emergency ride.
  • If the GRH Program was included in your South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (SCAQMD) Rule 2202 Plan as a basic/support strategy, then it is the employer’s responsibility to arrange for the ride and provide a ride home at no out-of-pocket cost to your employees. You, as the employer, can submit invoices under the GRH Program for reimbursement for all qualified rides without affecting compliance.
  • Once the employee provides the employer with a valid receipt from the service provider (taxi/rental car/Metrolink/Metro Rail or transit agency), the employer will complete and submit a GRH Reimbursement Claim Form to the GRH office within 30 days of the GRH usage date.
  • The GRH office will review the GRH Reimbursement Claim Form. Upon approval, the GRH office will send the reimbursement check to the employer, who will then pass the reimbursement on to the appropriate party.

What is a qualified GRH emergency?
Emergency circumstances that qualify for a reimbursable ride home under the GRH Program include:

  • Personal illness/emergency
  • Unexpected illness/emergency of an immediate family member
  • Carpool/vanpool driver has an emergency or unexpected overtime
  • Supervisor requires employee to work unscheduled overtime

What does not qualify as a GRH emergency?
Situations which do not qualify as an emergency under the GRH Program include:

  • Personal errands
  • Non-emergency appointments/meetings/doctor visits
  • Voluntary overtime
  • Public transportation disruptions or delays for any reason
  • Termination/Lay-offs
  • A ride to work
  • Business travel
  • Inclement weather
  • Any trip where alternate transportation could be arranged in advance
  • On-the-job injury
  • Breakdown of vanpool that would normally be covered by leasing company

What are valid GRH destinations?
The GRH Program offers flexibility, allowing you to choose from a variety of destinations that serve your unique needs, including:

  • Home
  • Personal vehicle (if you are parked at a Park & Ride lot or transit station)
  • Medical facility
  • Daycare or school
  • Interim stops will also be accepted if they are part of the emergency

Who pays for GRH?
Either the employer or the employee must pay for the emergency ride upfront. After submitting a GRH Reimbursement Claim Form, the GRH Program will reimburse the cost for qualified rides directly to the appropriate party.

How often can I use GRH?
Each ridesharing employee working at a participating company can use the program up to two (2) times in a 12-month period.

Guaranteed Ride Home is sponsored by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Orange County Transportation Authority, Riverside County Transportation Commission, and San Bernardino Associated Governments.

Extras


Is there information about bicycling?
Yes. Select Extras from the Main Menu, then choose Bicycling from the drop down menu to find maps, information and links to other bicycling resources.

Can 511 help me find tourist information, including airports in the area?
In the future, 511 will provide information about local tourist destinations. Currently, you can use Go511.com for quick links to airports in Southern California. Simply click on Extras and you’ll find the information you need.

Contact Us


How can I contact the Webmaster?
At the bottom of every page is a Contact Us link which gives you a phone number or mail address for contacting 511 customer service.

How do I give feedback on the Website?
You can provide your comments through the Feedback link, which is at the bottom of every page on the Website.

How can I get help for using the Website?
There is a Help link on every page located on the top left side of the page. This help is context sensitive. For example, if you are on the Traffic Map page and you select Help you will see help for just the Traffic Map page.

Buses and Trains


Can 511 help me plan a trip on a bus or train?
Yes. Use the Trip Planner to help find the trip that’s right for you. Or call 511 to find a trip or be transferred to a customer service agent who can help you plan your trip.

What public transportation agencies are included in 511? Most transportation agencies in Southern California are included in 511. If you are looking for a specific agency that is not included, contact us and we will work to get your agency added to 511.

How do I find the right transit agency for me?
Our Find a Transit Provider tool can help you to find the right bus or train provider. There is a button in the middle of the Home Page to Find a Transit Provider. You can also get to it by selecting Buses and Trains then Find a Transit Provider.

Once you are on the right page, select the county you want, then the city and the service type you need. 511 will give you a list of all the agencies that meet your needs. Select one of the listed agencies and information for that agency will appear on the lower half of the page. You will able to see the phone number, website, some general information about the agency and links to their route map, schedules and fares.

What is the Trip Planner?
The Trip Planner will give you the best bus or train route for your trip by matching your start and end point to current transit schedules. It will also tell you how long your trip will take, if there are any transfers involved and how much the trip will cost.

What area does the Trip Planner cover?
511’s online Trip Planner can plan your transit trip within a five county region that includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. When you call 511, you can plan a trip within Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Learn more about 511’s automated phone Trip Planner.

How does the Trip Planner calculate trips?
Transit trips are planned by matching your travel plan information with current transit schedules. The Trip Planner uses the schedules from over 60 transit agencies in Southern California to help you find the best route for your trip.

How do I use the Trip Planner?
Tell us where you're starting from, where you want to go and when you want to go. Our Trip Planner will find the best route to get you there. Follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Enter your start and end point.

You can enter an address, intersection or landmark to identify your start and end points:

  • Address: enter a street number, a street name and a city (e.g. 1111 Figueroa Street, Los Angeles)
  • Intersection: enter two street names separated by a slash (“/”) character (e.g. King/Main)
  • Landmark: enter the name of a known landmark (e.g. Union Station)

Step 2: Enter when you want to travel.

  • Specify the Day and Time you want to travel using dropdown lists provided.
  • Specify the time you want to travel as either a Leave at (the time leaving from your start point) or Arrive by (the time you’d like to arrive at your destination) time.

Step 3: Click on “Plan My Trip”

Once you’ve completed the steps above, the Trip Planner will ask you to confirm your trip. Check to make sure that the Trip Planner found your correct start and end points, and then click on “Plan My Trip” again.

Why does the Trip Planner ask me to “Confirm My Trip” before giving me an itinerary?
If the information that you enter can be interpreted in more than one way, a list of possible matches is returned. Simply select the correct start and end points and proceed by clicking on “Plan My Trip” at the bottom of the page.

Why didn't the Trip Planner recognize a well-known landmark?
The Trip Planner recognizes many landmarks in its coverage area, but some types of landmarks are not included. If the landmark you entered is one of the supported types, it may have a "formal" name different from what you entered. We are expanding our database of alternate names for landmarks. If you would like a landmark name added, please give us your feedback.

Sometimes the Trip Planner takes a long time to give me my itinerary. Why?
Some trips may have many possible solutions. It may take the Trip Planner more time to find the right trip to fit your travel plans.

Why couldn’t the Trip Planner find an itinerary for my trip?
Sometimes the Trip Planner will not be able to find an itinerary for your trip because:

  1. No transit agencies serve your start and/or end points
  2. The time and/or day you want to travel are outside of normal service operation
  3. The trip planner is currently out of service

If the Trip Planner is not returning an itinerary, please visit our Find a Transit Provider page to find a transit agency that serves your area. You can also try Metro’s Trip Planner, OCTA’s Trip Planner or Google Transit to help plan your trip.

How can I tell if a route is affected by construction, an event, or other reroutes?
Notices of these conditions are maintained by the individual transit agencies. Visit our Find a Transit Provider page to link to the agency and get more information on Rider Alerts or other notices.

The Trip Planner gave me an itinerary with a transfer. I was at the transfer location, but missed my bus. What happened?
The Trip Planner plans itineraries based on scheduled bus arrival times, and allows enough time between transfers for you to make your connection. The Trip Planner does not account for buses and trains that might be running late or early. If your bus or train is not running according to schedule, you might miss your connection.

The trip itinerary I am getting does not seem right. What should I do?
Check to make sure that your start and end points are correct. If the trip itinerary still seems wrong, please let us know. Your feedback will help us improve the Trip Planner functionality and pinpoint problem areas.

Carpool and Vanpool


Can I find a carpool or vanpool on the 511 site?
Yes. By selecting Carpool and Vanpool from the Main Menu you can visit Commutesmart.info for carpool and vanpool matching services.

Can 511 help me find a Park & Ride lot? 511 can help you easily find a Park & Ride lot near you. Either call 511 and ask for Commuter Services, or use 511’s online Park & Ride lot finder.

Motorist Aid

When your car breaks down it can be a very troubling situation, and imagine when you break down on a freeway. Did your car over heat, have a flat tire, or run out of gas? When a vehicle breaks down on the freeway, it causes congestion and other drivers (looky-loos) become interested in checking what is happening on the side of the road and it can slow traffic down and contribute to accidents. In an effort to help “speed” things up on our freeways, the Los Angeles County Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies (LA SAFE) and our Partners have developed motorist aid programs that can help a motorist on the freeway. Examples of Motorist Services include:

  • • Freeway Service Patrol (FSP)
  • • Call Boxes
  • • 511* Motorist Aid

* regular cell phone minute charges may apply