While Go511.com is well-designed and represents a herculean effort to be SoCal’s  comprehensive commuter information site, a closer look under the hood of the site reveals some interesting observations.

Front page of Go511.com

The first is Go511’s “NexTrip” feature. Users can use NexTrip to look up scheduled arrival times for a particular transit route and stop for any transit agency in Southern California. This feature is not to be confused with NextBus, the technology used by many agencies in Southern California to inform customers of the arrival of the next bus in real time.

Screenshot of NexTrip feature for Go511. Users can use pull-down menu to specify transit agency, route, stop, and direction to find out precisely when the next bus is arriving (per the published schedule)

The second was the fact that Go511.org refers users seeking driving directions to Mapquest even though its traffic map was powered by Google. While I heard that Mapquest recently underwent a facelift, I am a loyal user of Google Maps and dependent on its many features.

Interestingly, Go511 directs customers to Mapquest for driving directions (literally, with a link).

Furthermore, I found the transit trip planner built into the site to be clunky and unreliable, similar to the Metro Trip Planner, making me wonder if they were both the same. Granted, this was based off one test itinerary (perhaps you, our reader, will have better luck). The itinerary: last week, I had a friend travel from Union Station to Sepulveda & Manchester in Westchester during the evening rush hour. Google Transit told me to suggest a commuter bus, Line 439. The Go511 transit trip planner told me to use the Local 42, a bus line that would’ve taken 20 minutes longer and exclude the use of the freeway.

Finally, the launch of the website also accompanies the launch of a new automated 511 toll-free phone service. I would offer my review, except I could not get it to work on either my cell phone or my office line. If you need directions on the fly and are sans web-based smartphone, might I suggest 1(800) COMMUTE? Metro says it will continue to operate 800-COMMUTE, which is staffed weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

As Go511 is in beta, I look forward to future versions of the site and hope to see improvements in the near future.