The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

Informed but opinionated commentary and analysis on urban transportation topics from the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

Our Mission: Monkeywrench the Anti-Transit Forces

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Sunday, September 15, 2002

Response to Criticism of Denver Transit Alliance LRT Report

From the Cabalmaster:

One persistent critic of both transit in general and the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal apparently thinks he's scored a major coup in finding alleged errors in the Denver Transit Alliance Report "LRT Ridership and Cost in 7 Western Cities." He posted his "findings" on the Usenet groups alt.planning.urban and misc.transport.urban-transit.

Well, this person--let's call him R.C.--was correct that Table 1 in the report had a typo, labeling the table as "Six Cities" when the correct number was seven! Got us there, R.C.!

He also alleged that there were "arithmetic errors" in the two key tables in the report. But Cabalmaster was unable to find any, other than the total capital cost for the Portland Westside LRT was not included in the Table 2 total--as it should not have been since apparently there was not reliable number for "original" cost estimate. Well, I suppose R.C. got the report author again--there probably should have been a footnote to the effect that the Portland Westside LRT amount was left out of the total, even though just looking at the table made that clear.

Then there was R.C.'s confusion about the definition of "riders" and "boardings" and whether the source of the data was APTA or the FTA. Well, R.C., anyone who has studied transit for any length of time knows that the "standard" definition of a rider is a "boarding" per the NTD definitions (you'll have to figure out what "NTD" is yourself, R.C.!) For all practical purposes, the terms "rider," "passenger," and "boarding" are fully interchangeable and all mean exactly the same thing, counted each time one person "boards" one transit vehicle, whether an LRT car, a bus, a subway car, whatever. APTA and FTA agree on this! Also, "daily" patronage is the same as "weekday patronage," which you would have noticed if you actually had any reading comprehension, R.C.

Of course, R.C.'s quibbles actually didn't include any real questioning whether the reported patronage and capital cost numbers were correct. Since the information was obtained from primary sources (e.g., the transit agencies), THAT data certainly was going to be reliable--having to meet FTA NTD requirements for reporting transit capital spending, for one thing.

One more thing. The FTA's "mandatory" ridership reporting is central to NTD reporting requirements, a requirement made of every recipient of Federal Transit funds. We in the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal are not aware of any "mandatory" ridership reporting requirement from new transit systems constructed under the FTA AA process, other than the universal NTD reporting requirements.

BTW, R.C. is the same fellow who took a big, noisy, but utterly pointless tangent when the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal pointed out the conversion between hectares and square miles--something the average American probably would not know off the top of their heads--turning it into an absurd argument about the metric system being "official" since the time of President Jefferson (an effort to make it official in Congress when Jefferson was President--but lost by one vote--is NOT official, R.C.!) The most accurate statement today about this is that the metric system in the U.S. is now "semi-official."

While the military and many industries have converted to metric (many for global competitiveness reasons), many other industries have not "officially" converted. Witness the weight information on the cereal box of Post Grapenuts Cabalmaster had this morning: Net Wt 24 Oz (1 Lb 8 Oz) (680g). If Post had gone "metric" why not 600g or 750g? As opposed to 1.5 pounds??

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