Monday, February 04, 2008

The Truth Behind the Numbers

Originally uploaded by jmdspk
Some of you may have seen an editorial published in the Los Angeles Times recently. It proves how well numbers can be manipulated for ones sake by just leaving out some important information.

The editorial claimed that transit ridership declined in Los Angeles from 1986 to 2007 by 25% by using ridership numbers from the RTD which was the major transit system at the time to the today's METRO (RTD became METRO in 1994). The writers of the editorial one of whom was a consultant to the Bus Riders Union, claimed it was because the artificially low fares created by a proposition in 1980, ended in 1986 and all that money was transferred to rail construction.

Looking at just those figures any smart person would say that rail construction caused a deep cut in ridership on the bus system. However, there is some convenient facts left out.

The editorial compares the RTD ridership of 1986 to the Metro Ridership in 2007, seems fair right? Wrong.

Here is what transpired over the next 20 years:
-All Express buses operating in the city of Los Angeles (a very large area) and several local routes are transferred from the RTD to the City of Los Angeled Department of Transportation to Operate.
-Most routes in the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys are transferred from the RTD to the new Foothill Transit Agency.
-Many other routes are transferred to municipal operators.

So in other words a large portion of the route structure of the then RTD and later METRO was transferred to other operations and this has continued.

So in other words the METRO is operating substantially fewer routes than its predecessors the RTD did in 1986. In fact if you look at just the routes it operated in 1986 and that it still operates it would show a large increase in riders.

So in other words, by just leaving out some important information, someone's political agenda is being met, but the public on the whole, if they read the editorial and took it at face value were being misled.

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