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Dreamland

It’s not often I make recommendations about TV shows, but when I do they seem to be Australian. To anyone who’s enjoyed this blog, I might recommend “Dreamland”, and season 1, episode 3 specifically. It’s on Netflix, in Canada at least.

The show is a sitcom that follows an inept planning/development office as hey try to get anything done. Good stuff.

I think I remember the show being marketed as something else in Australia, perhaps “Utopia” or something like that (in case you want to try torrenting).

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Posted in: Politics
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“without raising fares”

A wee nit to pick from SORTA’s recent “State of Metro'” dog and pony show:
I distinctly remember one of the speakers saying something like ‘and all this without raising fares!’, and this to my feeble memory reeked of bullshit, so I found the numbers again and ran them to see if I was remembering correctly. I was indeed.

Here are the facts, as reported by SORTA to the Federal Transit Administration. Over the period where we have data on both fare revenues and ridership (currently 2002 to 2012) SORTA has been steadily getting more money from fare revenues while moving fewer passengers. We are currently at the nadir of this trend, with

  1. More fare revenue than ever
  2. Fewer passenger trips than ever

When SORTA says by the way that they are a ‘most efficient’ agency, a title pinned on them by the laughably unscientific UC Economics Center, it is precisely this measure they have in mind. There is hardly a better example of doublespeak to be found. Here’s the trend:

a shitty decade for transit

In order to plot both agencies together, I normalized fares and passenger trips to the same range. The scale is linear.

Now you may rightly note that the standard fare for a zone 1 trip hasn’t changed lately. But that’s not the only kind of fare that can be paid. It might not even be the most common! I don’t know for certain. I haven’t personally paid standard fare in quite a while because my transit use is partly subsidized by UC. So for example, the fare revenue variable in this data almost certainly includes UC’s cash subsidy for my fare as well as the dollar I put in myself. Multiply that by the dozens of private fare subsidies each agency probably negotiates (or drops) each year and you get a more dynamic picture. Fare could also be effected, though probably isn’t, by people using transit cards more or less, while paying the same monthly price.

But anyway, I’ll be damned if f the total price paid by riders or their agents, on a per-trip basis doesn’t constitute a better definition of ‘fare’ than SORTA’s standard zone-1 single-segment price. And by that definition, fares have risen from $0.76 in 2002 to $1.78 in 2012 (+134%). For TANK, the change is from $0.72 in 2002 to $1.16 in 2012 (+60%). Adjusting for inflation, the changes are 84% and 26% respectively. So much for SORTA’s unchanging fares theory lie.

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I’ll end with an ineffectual plea to the people at SORTA. Please, understand that when you speak in lies and euphemisms, no matter how nice your breakfast spread,  you turn off clever people and retain only the idiots and the cynical. People from all three of these categories vote, to be sure, but I know who I’d rather spend my time with. And I know who could build the better transit system.

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Posted in: Analysis | Data | Politics
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Self-selection into ignorance

It is ours as experts in a domain of public import to make clear the nature of our study. Is it complex? We must never let it seem otherwise! Let those who don’t understand our narrow, public domain understand that they don’t, but how they could, then if they will. Let them then vote.

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Posted in: Aphorism | Politics
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Lean Urbanism

I never do this, but…after watching this video for the fourth or fifth time over the last year, I feel the need to simply ‘share’ it, with relatively little comment. Take an hour out of your day to give it a proper listen, especially if you’re a planner or you’re otherwise working in government. If you’re a ‘millennial’ like me, a group disjoint with the previous one, watch it with caution perhaps; Duany has a great many good ideas to offer, along with the observation that there’s not much we in particular can do about them. Except move to where the government is more fully broken than here.

There’s not much to the visual, so you can just listen and not miss much.

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A preemptive contention

I hear through the grapevine that people are now collecting economic statistics on the recent development of Over-The-Rhine in an effort to demonstrate ‘the economic impact of the streetcar’. My contention with whatever they will is obvious enough that I feel silly making it but yet the folly goes forward rather oblivious to my mind.

The Streetcar doesn’t exist yet, people. Let’s cool down the propaganda machines.

What might be measured by and interesting in their report is the development of a neighborhood in rapid transition for any reason. What cannot be evident is the effect of a project not yet realized, unless we consider it only as a local, government outlay in which case we may as well have set to work digging ditches of a more ordinary sort. The effect they intend to measure, though they won’t put it in these words, is the effect of their own boosterism, a fully psychological impact. They want to show us how big their bubble is.

Please, all of you, do the spirit of rationality a favour: if you hear someone saying the streetcar is already, clearly, making OTR better, point out that the streetcar has never yet been seen to function. Demand serious analysis for claims that any one thing has dramatically effected something so complex as a whole, urban neighborhood.

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Posted in: Politics
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Death

death

More to come.

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Posted in: Maps | Politics | Priorities
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