Ontario’s innovative Traveller’s Road Information Portal – known as TRIP – was selected from 120 submissions, representing 53 countries, for the Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management’s prestigious 2008 Gold Award for Innovation.
The Ministry of Transportation accepted the honour at CAPAM’s conference in Barbados on October 22.
“The competition this year was particularly tough,” said David Waung, executive director and CEO of CAPAM. “TRIP was unanimously selected by our jury because of its leadership in creating partnerships and its ability to serve Ontario’s diverse citizenship.”
TRIP is a telephone hotline and Internet site that gives current road conditions, including road closures and delays caused by weather and construction. Information is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. This is particularly important in Ontario, which has some of the world’s busiest highways.
What sets TRIP apart is its unique accessibility to Ontario’s diverse population. The portal uses voice recognition and text-to-speech technology – a first for the Ontario government – and is programmed to recognize English and French. Since its launch, three other Ontario government ministries have adopted voice recognition technology, and other jurisdictions such as the City of Toronto and the Province of Quebec are developing similar road information services.
“I am very proud that TRIP’s excellence has been recognized internationally,” said Shelly Jamieson, Ontario Secretary of the Cabinet. “It’s a great example of how Ontario is leading the way in modern, accessible transportation.”
Minister of Transportation Jim Bradley concurred: “We are honoured to receive this award. It recognizes the high level of service that we provide to travellers through the TRIP system. Congratulations to our entire staff and service providers for their innovation and continued level of high service.”
MTO’s Deputy Minister Bruce McCuaig pointed out that TRIP was started as a result of listening to our road users. “Collaboration and citizen-focus are the hallmarks of TRIP and continue to guide its development. I am pleased it has received this international recognition.”
TRIP has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers. More than 4.5 million people use TRIP annually: the TRIP page of the MTO website is one of the most visited sites in the Ontario government with four million hits annually; the telephone information service receives 500,000 calls annually and up to 16,000 calls daily during major winter storms.
“I am very proud of the team’s accomplishment. TRIP is a very visible demonstration of how at MTO, we are committed to customer service and making things easier for the travelling public,” said Rob Fleming, Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services Division.
“Our customers love TRIP and have been engaged in our planning from the start,” said Linda Barbetti, manager of customer services at MTO. “We use customer feedback to continually enhance road information services.”
For TRIP’s telephone hotline dial 1-800-268-4686 or visit the website at www.mto.gov.on.ca and select Traveller’s Information.
Linda Barbetti and Debra Merowitz are with Department of Transportation.