Monday, April 23, 2007

Hold Planners Accountable

For most of us, if we do not perform in our occupations, we are either fired or we go out of business if we are self employed. But what happens if your a transit planner...nothing, transit planners are not held accountable.

Lets take a look at a couple of changes the UTA made over the last few years and see how the changes performed.

Example One: Routes 16, 17, and 81. At first the 16 and 17 where loops where one route ran clockwise and the other counter-clockwise while the 81 served 900 West. All three routes where switched around where the 16 served part of the old loop, the 17 served another, and the 81 went up Emery for a portion of its trip. A year later the 16 and 17 are merged back into one route and a portion of the 81 is replaced. So in other words the weird routing of the 16, 17, and 81 where a failure. OK, changes took place because of financial issues, but if the routing's would have been a success in the first place would the redone 16 look almost like the old loop except serving Ballpark TRAX instead of an actually loop?

Example Two: Route 25. Route 25 travels from the Midvale Center TRAX station to service Monroe Street and the Sandy Industrial area including NOVUS services. First stupidity was trying to cancel the line. So then over the last year it has been reroute at every schedule change until it looks pretty much like it did before the planners started screwing with it. In other words it should have been left alone. So in other words the planners getting it wrong.

So what should be done?

Simple, the planners need to be held accountable the same way someone in the private sector would be. The question is, what criteria should be used in order to hold the planner accountable?

There is a wide range of ways to hold the planner accountable depending on why the changes where made and what affect it had on system performance.

Here are some examples:

What was the effect on ridership? If ridership did not go up the planner should be held accountable.

What effect did the changes had on finances? If it cost more after the changes and ridership did not go up then the planner should be held accountable.

What did the changes affect other lines? The way the numbers are gathered and the way the planners look at things, they for the most part don't take a systematic systems approach. In other words Route A is changed causing a drop in ridership on Route B etc.

Now lets look at the big bus reorganization. What happens if it does not work? What if we have a situation like Orange County, California where the revamped their whole bus system only to start putting the routes back the way they where because it didn't work. But guess what, where the planners who made the decisions held accountable? Of course not, the riders got screwed but the planners went along their merry way getting their big paychecks without any accountability.

IF UTA's changes don't work, who will be held accountable? The planners should be. Just like they should be for all their decisions just like a planner would in the private sector. Otherwise what is their motivation to do the best job possible? There needs to be accountability.

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