511 Departure Times
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR THE DEPARTURE TIMES FEATURE

Here is a list of frequently asked questions about the 511 Departure Times feature. If you have a question that's not answered on this page, please contact us.
General


Departure Times through SMS (Texting)


Departure Times through MY 511


Departure Times on the web


Departure Times on the phone


Departure Times on mobile web

General

How do I get real-time departure times for my train or bus?
You can request and receive departure time predictions -
  • On the phone: call 5-1-1.
  • On the web: use the Departure Times tool on the 511.org homepage or to save your trips, register with my511.org.
  • On the web via mobile devices: point your mobile browser to m.511.org and use the Real-Time Transit Departures tool.
  • Via SMS/texting: send ‘511 [Stop ID #]’ to DOTORG (368674).

On the Phone
Call 511 and say “Departure Times” at the main menu. You will then be asked to enter your Stop ID. If you don’t know your Stop ID when calling, you will be prompted to use 511’s backup help system to hear your departure times and learn your Stop ID number. You can lookup Stop IDs online by using the Stop ID Lookup tool.

On the Web
Go to 511.org and use the Departure Times tool in the lower left-hand side of the page. Alternatively, you can use the Real-Time Departures tool available on 511 Transit at transit.511.org. You can also save your transit trips and create a personalized 511 home page by going to my511.org. Lastly, you can find your Stop ID by using the Stop ID Lookup tool on the 511 Transit page.

On the Web via Mobile Devices
Go to m.511.org (the streamlined mobile web version of the most popular 511 web features) and click on “Real-Time Transit Departures”, which is the first feature listed under “511 Mobile Tools”. Then, enter your Stop ID # and click “Get Times” to receive your predictions. If you don’t know your Stop ID #, click on “Stop ID Look-up” and follow the prompts to obtain a list of Stop IDs for your route. Then, simply click on your stop’s ID # to receive departure predictions.

Through SMS (Texting)
To request departure time predictions through SMS, just text ‘511 [Stop ID#]’ to DOTORG (368674). Within seconds, you will receive a message with predictions for the Stop ID you entered. You currently can only request departure predictions with your Stop ID. However, we are working to allow text requests using your stop name (cross-streets or station name). Stay tuned. For more information, go to the Texting Page.
What is a Stop ID number?
A Stop ID is a unique number associated with a specific transit stop that 511 uses to identify the stop for which you want to receive departure time predictions. This ID automatically includes your direction of travel (i.e., the side of the platform or street the stop is on). For example, Stop ID #16996 identifies the outbound platform at Van Ness Station. When you enter this ID number, 511 Departure Times will play predictions for every outbound transit line that stops at Van Ness Station. Stop ID #15419 will play predictions for inbound service at Van Ness Station. Also, Stop IDs are transit agency-specific, so stops served by multiple agencies will have at least one unique Stop ID per agency.
How do I learn my Stop ID?
You can get your Stop ID either over the phone or on the web. To get your Stop ID over the phone, call 511 and say “Departure Times.” When 511 prompts you to enter your Stop ID, say, “I don’t know” to use the backup help system to identify your stop. After hearing the predicted departure times for your stop, 511 will play your stop’s ID number. You can also use the Stop ID Lookup tool on the 511 Transit page to find your Stop ID number.
Why are there two Stop IDs for one rail station?
Each rail station has one Stop ID for each direction trains travel out of that station. For example, one station might have Stop ID #11 for the inbound platform and Stop ID #12 for the outbound platform. The concept is similar to the stops on opposite sides of the street having different IDs. This dual ID feature for rail stations allows you to skip a step by not having to request a specific direction.
What transit agencies does 511 Departure Times cover?
The below chart shows the agencies that are already available in 511 Departure Times, as well as those that are planned for future integration.
CURRENTLY AVAILABLEPLANNED FOR FUTURE
San Francisco MUNISamTrans
BARTVTA
WestCATGolden Gate Transit
AC Transit Caltrain
Broadway ShuttleDumbarton Express
Why are Stop IDs not posted at my stop or station?
We are working with transit agencies to install Stop ID decals at transit stops throughout the Bay Area. Stop ID decals for MUNI are currently being rolled-out for implementation at stops, and some MUNI signs, shelters, and poles are already equipped with decals. AC Transit and WestCAT will also begin posting decals at their stops in the near future, and BART will continue to explore decal designs that are appropriate for rail stations. In the meantime, you will need to learn your Stop ID, use the backup help system on the phone, or customize transit trips at my511.org. While having to learn a Stop ID number may initially seem challenging, the 511 system currently offers two options for learning and remembering Stop ID numbers. These options are: 1) look up all Stop ID numbers on the 511.org website using the Stop ID Lookup tool on the Transit page , or 2) say “I don’t know” when asked for your Stop ID on the 511 phone system. In the future, Stop ID numbers will also be integrated into the 511 Transit Trip Planner. 511 and participating transit agencies will be assessing the costs and benefits of placing Stop ID numbers at stops and stations.
Why do I sometimes not receive any predictions after I make a request?
Periodically, you might not receive predictions after using one of the various Real-Time Departures tools to request departure times. Most often, this is because the stop you requested is not predicted to have any departures within 90 minutes of the time of your request. 511 does not provide predictions greater than 90 minutes. Also, you may not receive predictions when the real-time prediction device on the vehicle(s) serving your stop is not working. However, if you receive this message when routes are departing the stop, or if you receive a message saying that the system is unavailable, please contact us so that we can look into the problem.

Departure Times through SMS (Texting)

Can I send SMS (text message) for my Stop ID to receive departure times?
To request departure time predictions through SMS, just text ‘511 [Stop ID #]’ to DOTORG (368674). Within seconds, you will receive a message with predictions for the Stop ID you entered. You currently can only request departure predictions with your Stop ID. However, we are working to allow text requests using your stop name (cross-streets or station name). Stay tuned. For more information, go to the Texting Page.
I sent a text request for departure times and received two text messages in response. Why is this?
After texting a request, 511 immediately responds with departure times for up to three buses or trains for each route that serves your stop. Since requests for stops served by multiple routes may generate a long list of predictions, some replies may exceed 160 character limit for each text message. For these requests, you will receive consecutive text messages that include predictions for all of your stops routes.
Will I be charged for the text messages I send and receive?
511 does not charge for its text messaging service. However, your phone carrier will charge you according to your service plan. Please contact your service provider for more details.
What do I do if I receive an error message that says 'Error adding record to the database'?
If you are getting an unexpected error message that says this, please reply with a message that says '511 resetuser.' You should receive a confirmation message that says 'Reset Successful.' After that you can try texting your Stop ID again for predictions.

Departure Times through MY 511

How can I use MY 511 to get transit departure predictions faster and more easily?
Departure Times is available on MY 511, which is a free, personalized service for the web and phone. Once you register at my511.org and personalize your transit trips, you will have your own customized MY 511 homepage that always displays the predictions for your requested routes and stops. This allows you to immediately obtain your predictions on the web without having to use dropdown menus and make selections. Also, when you use the phone, you will be able to instantly say your trip name and get your predictions after making only one request. You can also use MY 511 to customize status updates that will automatically send you predictions for your stop at a time that you specify. Go to my511.org to find out more.

Departure Times on the web

How do I get real-time departure time predictions on 511.org?
There are two places within 511’s web pages where you can get real-time departure predictions. Go to 511.org and use the Departure Times tool in the lower left-hand side of the page. Or, visit transit.511.org and click on the Real-Time Departures tab in the Trip Planner box at the top of the page. You can also save your transit trips and create a personalized 511 home page by going to my511.org. Lastly, you can find your Stop ID by using the StopID Lookup tool on the 511 Transit page.
Why are there Real-Time Departures tools in two different places?
The primary Real-Time Departures tool, located on the 511 Transit page, offers comprehensive real-time transit information and can be used in conjunction with the many other transit-related features that 511 Transit provides. In addition, there is a more basic Real-Time Departures tool on 511.org, which allows you to quickly obtain the predictions you need right on the homepage.

Departure Times on the phone

How do I use the 511 phone system to get real-time departure predictions?
Call 511 and say “Departure Times” at the main menu. You will then be asked to enter your Stop ID. If you don’t know your Stop ID when calling, you will be prompted to use 511’s backup help system to hear your departure times and learn your Stop ID number. You can lookup Stop IDs online by using the Stop ID Lookup tool.
When I call 511, why can’t I just say my cross streets to find out my departure time information?
On the 511 phone service, you can use cross streets to get departure time predictions by using the backup help menu. To access the backup help system, say “I don’t know” after being asked for your Stop ID number. You will then be prompted to say your agency name, route number and direction, and cross streets to obtain your departure times. If you don’t know your direction, just say the route name and the system will prompt you to select your direction from a list of options. By using Stop IDs instead, however, you will be able to access your Departure Times information in an instant, without having to say your agency name, route number, and location.

Departure Times on mobile web

How do I get real-time departure predictions on my mobile browser?
Go to m.511.org on your mobile browser and click on “Real-Time Transit Departures”, which is the first feature listed under “511 Mobile Tools”. Then, enter your Stop ID # and click “Get Times” to receive your predictions. If you don’t know your Stop ID #, click on “Stop ID Look-up” and follow the prompts to obtain a list of Stop IDs for your route. Then, simply click on your stop’s ID # to receive departure predictions.
I don’t know my Stop ID number. Can I still use my mobile browser to get real-time predictions?
If you don’t know your Stop ID number, simply click on the “Stop ID Look-up” link on the mobile Real-Time Transit Departures page. You can then select your agency, route, and direction to get a list of stops and Stop ID numbers for the route that you need. Then, to get predictions, simply click on the Stop ID number in the list that corresponds to your stop. You can also write down or save your Stop ID number for future use.
Can I use my mobile browser to quickly request the stops that I need, without having to make selections from the dropdown menus each time?
Once you make a request for a stop that you frequently use and receive predictions, use your mobile browser to save the page of predictions to your bookmarks or favorites. Then, each time you need predictions for that stop, you can select the page from your bookmarks. The resulting page will provide updated predictions for the stop you saved.