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I don't play games; I report and analyze facts

I don't ordinarily give up an entire post to debating a single commenter. But I feel Rusty's comments to my post yesterday deserve a reply, because he may represent a small, but horribly misinformed number of CTA riders.

Rusty wrote:

"The metrics shown are hand chosen." Yes, but the metrics chosen reflect the mission of the CTA: On-time, safe, clean, friendly (courteous), and efficient, plus ridership. That's what riders care about, and that's what the CTA measures.

"The raw data isn't going to be released on the website." What part of the following data is not raw (all are January 2008 figures)?

  • Mean Miles Between Reported Rail Vehicle Defects: 2,659 
  • Miles Between Reported Bus Service Disruptions Due to Equipment: 4,069
  • Rail NTD Security-Related Incidents per 100,000 miles: 1.7
  • Average Days Between Completed Rail Detail Cleans: 23
  • % of Graffiti Work Orders Completed Within 7 Days: 98.4%

Rusty suggested four ways to approach this data, including: "Use the pre-parsed, pre-packaged data that Kevin is mistaking for raw data, and attempt to use them to come to valid conclusions." The data are the data. There is no mistake. See above. I'm not sure how you can pre-parse and pre-package mean miles between reported rail vehicle defects. If you don't believe the facts as presented, that's a different story. I do.

"But let's not pretend that the pre-parsed, pre-crunched numbers that have "changed format" since Ron's rise to power are actually raw data that can be used for independent review. That's just naive." How? See above.

"If you want to play games, then your rhetoric is nice. But if you seriously want a real examination of CTA's performance, the game being played here is bush league." I don't play games. I don't spout rhetoric. I report, interpret and analyze facts. And the Bush league left office yesterday. Good riddance. 

To be sure, the CTA is an imperfect transit agency, managed and operated by imperfect people, just as you and me are imperfect. But that doesn't mean we don't expect the very best from them every day. I do and I will continue to hold the CTA to high standards and demand accountability to the riding public.

Comments

Unfortunately, Rusty is absolutely right. These figures are a great start, and represent more transparency than we've seen from the CTA in years -- but that's all they are, the beginnings of transparency. Let's face it -- Chicago bureaucracy has a piss-poor track record for honesty and accountability. Accepting a few potentially massaged figures at face value, with all that baggage, is in fact quite naive.

I don't see why you're arbitrarily conflating responsibility with blind faith. Are you afraid of losing access to Huberman and other CTA officials if you watch them too closely, or criticize them too often? Have you been warned already?

If we're going to sink to Bush-bashing, then, congratulations -- you've clearly figured out how to play Obama-style politics. Respond to criticism with rhetoric and accusations of disloyalty, that's the New Politics at work!

The problem with Rusty's comments in general is that he's opposed to everything Huberman has done.
It doesn't matter if there have been improvements in service & reliability, he's against it.
The Blue line no longer is one 20 mile long slow zone: So what, Frank was going to fix it.
No Rusty, it was Frank that let it fall into disrepair for reasons we still don't know & probably will never know!

In my personal experience, I've only been on two trains that had door problems in the last few months. Before that it was a weekly occurrence.
Last week I got on a bus with a broken fare box, but that was the first one I encountered in over a year. Before that I got a free ride at least once a month due to that.

No, Rusty is from the old CTA management & until we know who he is, we're not going to know whose ax he's grinding!

"What part of the following data is not raw"

All of it. Where and when were defects reported? What does the distribution of defects and disruptions look like? We don't even have a standard deviation for these numbers. An arithmetic mean is useful, but it's certainly not "raw data" in any sense.

I've noticed that there are a few third parties now using the bus tracker's "API" to support e.g. iPhone apps, but no one is using it to collect data on bus performance, which is what I had hoped to see when I first started poking at the HTTP requests in Firebug (and had hoped to do myself, but I've been lazy). It would be interesting to confirm or counter the anecdotal reports that appear here of particularly slow service on certain lines.

Maybe what Rusty wants is data like this:
On bus 1011 going on run 6502 westbound on Garfield, the Clever device reported that someone broke the laser beam (and hence boarded the bus) at Woodlawn, another at University, 3 at Ellis, etc.

Also he wants to know that rail car 2437 broke down on the Purple Line at the Oak Street curve at 8:46 on Tuesday, January 27th.

Then Rusty can aggregate all those data for 2100 buses and 1190 L cars and give us his own take.

Maybe your brother's Bus Tracker pinging would be useful, too.

I wasn't following the controversy from the previous post. I have no particular agenda, but I have a little educational background in statistical and research methods. Perhaps what Rusty is saying is that we're probably only being given "descriptive stats" (averages, etc.) rather than the underlying data (on January 12th at 3:30 p.m., a blue line train left Forest Park, reaching the Harlem station at xx:xx p.m., Medical Center at xx:xx pm. The temperature of the xyz thingamjiggy was 34 degrees. Last maintenance on the thingamajiggy was on December 12th at 2:45 pm. The top speed between Forest park and Harlem was 35 mph and the average was 23 mph, the top speed between Harlem and Oak Park was... and so on

Their analysts would take this truly raw data and crunch it to be more understandable and to conform with the metrics that they have defined. Rusty may be saying that they are only giving some of their metrics to us, and witholding others. Or perhaps they are only defining metrics which provide results consistent with their objectives. Metrics which put the system in a bad light may be withheld from the public.

So even though we are getting some metrics from them, they may not tell the whole story. I think the problem here is one of nomenclature. You seem to be saying that the metrics they are providing are "raw data," perhaps as compared to a traditional press release in which only a couple of descriptive stats are released to the public. The CTA seems to be much more open and transparent than that (thankfully). But still, the truly raw data is not published, as it would be incomprehensible to the general public and really needs to be crunched down for any sense to be made of it.

Rusty appears to be skeptical of whether the CTA is crunching in a truly unbiased way.

Just my 2 cents.

jack: I did see that post but I guess I misunderstood it. It does sound in the Derivative Works post like they are storing historical data somewhere permanently, but I don't see a way to look at it at chicago.transitapi.com -- which seems to be describing itself as just a caching proxy.

UIC said:
"The problem with Rusty's comments in general is that he's opposed to everything Huberman has done.
It doesn't matter if there have been improvements in service & reliability, he's against it.
The Blue line no longer is one 20 mile long slow zone: So what, Frank was going to fix it.
No Rusty, it was Frank that let it fall into disrepair for reasons we still don't know & probably will never know!"

Which brings me to my next point. Rusty, after aggregating the data of the type I suggested in my prior post, then get the comparable data from Frank's era. And then give us a way to normalize it to take into account that the Blue Line subway between Clark and Lake and Grand was not a slow zone under his administration, because track inspectors put in a 5 hour day and falsified reports, as established by the NTSB, for instance.

Rusty is going to dislike everything Huberman is going to do, so best to ignore him at this point. This blog has seriously gone the wrong way in the last couple of days.

Let's hope Obama, Kreusi, Daley, Huberman somehow get us back our money for rapid transit. It's a new day!

Yeah folks, let's by all means ignore anyone who has the audacity to question the accuracy and representation of data.

According to my subset of experience and empirical data, the 22 Clark bus is 100% unreliable. No need to question me or look behind the curtain. It's a fact because I say it. I actually have facts to prove that too. I have experience adjust mean data that can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt it is crap.

So, what kind of statistics to they have on the courtesy front?

My experience is that courtesy has decrease by 87.245% in the 8 years I've been riding the CTA. Again, no need to question, I have hard data based my impeccable, beyond reproach statistical sampling methods.


So, there!

KevinB

KevinB,
THAT is a Bush League post.

Rusty did not just have "the audacity to question the accuracy and representation of data." He has done it over, and over, and over in an unreasonable, agenda-ridden way. He is a . . . troll. Whether he is correct, he's approached the issue like an ass and alienated people in the process.

The utter refusal to admit that EVEN IF the data are being massaged, the CTA STILL seems to be working better is unreasonable.

I didn't read the comment section on the previous post and am willing to consider the notion that so and so is just a big huberman hater. That argument sounds like a big waste of time.

However, Kevin's post is simply factually incorrect. Mean miles between and percent of requests responded to are not raw numbers, they are summary statistics, and statistics, as Samuel Clemens knows well, can be bent.

No, it's more of an Obama league post.

It's like Bush saying "We haven't had another 9/11 so what I'm doing must be working....hope you don't miss those civil liberties and that whole freedom from an oppressive government thing"

It's like saying "I hit my head against a wall every day".

Today I stop. It seems to be much better now.

While there are lots of people I don't agree with, it's my problem and my obligation to consider the message and not the messenger or the delivery method.

I've actually been told that sometimes even MY delivery method could be improved on, but the message is mostly spot on.

That sounds like the perfect example of one of my favorite constructs from the "Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy" Books....the SEP (Somebody Elses Problem) field. I try to generate one around me as much as humanly possible.

In fact, the CTA may have created a new branch of Mathematics (much like the Bistromathics) from the same series...

"Bistromathics itself is simply a revolutionary new way of understanding the behaviour of numbers. Just as Einstein observed that space was not an absolute but depended on the observer's movement in time, so it is now realized that numbers are not absolute, but depend on the observer's movement in restaurants. --"

Along that same bent...

CTAmathics is described as simply a revolutionary new way of understanding the behaviour of numbers. Just as Einstein observed that space was not an absolute but depended on the observer's movement in time, so it is now realized that numbers are not absolute but based on the irrational data presented by the Chicago Transit Authority to prove to everyone that they aren't as bad as everyone thinks(even though they are).

These numbers depend on a complex relationship between the salaries of highly paid CTA executives (who do little or nothing for that salary), the waste of the money currently in the budget, the vain hope that someone is going to give them more money to spend just as badly as they do now, and the relative relationship between the money spent and the crappiness of the actual bus and train service that they provide to the customers.

Pundits have determined that if they ever did provide anything nearing their boasted "On-time, safe, clean, friendly (courteous) service that the universe might actually cease to exist since this would most likely be the most improbable event ever to occur in the history of space/time. Scientists theorize that this would be an "Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure". They also theorize that microscopic version of the phenomena caused the implosion of the block 37 project.

Share and Enjoy!


KevinB

Great, KevinB, another longtime supporter of everything Huberman and CTA comes to Rusty's rescue. Hardly surprising.

Once again, you guys seem to have a problem with the people and institution behind the statistics and that translates to everything they do.

How many ways can you "massage" the arithmetic mean of a set of numbers? Or maybe they're doing the logarithmic mean!

Zoinks! This reminds me of certain other blogs, I'm sorry to say.

Yes, the CTA is like pretty much every other gargantuan bureaucracy in its lack of accountability, and its infuriating inability to admit that it's not accountable. No, we don't get the raw data of exactly what happened at each event, that we could parse and reparse to our hearts' content.

That being the case, where do you want to go with it? In broad strokes, this blog does some of what is possible with a giant, unaccountable bureaucracy - it reports what news is available, including some PR crap from the CTA, but also a lot of other stuff from riders, etc. As an answer to all the problems with the CTA, this blog is neither perfect nor complete, but it's a small island in a big sea of noninformation.

Which is where complaints about the CTAtattler really fall apart. There is a problem here, namely that the CTA exploits its power to retain the public's information. There is a bigger problem, namely that societally we have accepted the idea that the (supposed) efficiency of large bureaucracies justifies all the exploitation of concentrated power that always goes with them.

In that context, the CTAtattler is not "the problem" as I define it. I am left to wonder what problem is solved by attacking its author of this blog. I am reminded of the "crabs in a barrel" metaphor.

Math is hard, Let's go shopping!

As a relative newcomer to Chicago, I think the title of your blog is somewhat misleading.

How much "tattling" is really going on? Scanning the posts from the past few months, I found many of the subjects dealt with service enhancements. Some even verged on free PR for the CTA.

The information you provide is no doubt useful, but calling yourself a "tattler" sets up the expectation that you are going to be a whistle blower, gadfly, watchdog, etc.

The CTA is indeed improving under Huberman, but so much remains to be done. A more adversarial stance (with a view to improvement, not merely whining) might therefore be more needed.

I don't want the raw data. I don't want to sit around and figure out what it means--it's not my job, it's the job of some people at the CTA. I can't imagine why they would make stuff up out of their raw data either--they need to know what's going on to make decisions based on their stats. I doubt they have a secret cache of correct stats that they work from while posting the made up stuff--it seems like an awful lot of extra work to be massaging the data, as someone put it. It would be a lot easier to just tell us it's none of our business than it would be to post stuff they would have to make up.

Jake,

The original purpose of the blog was to talk about weird things on the CTA. This is also seen in the sub headline at the top "Seen and Heard on the CTA". It has obviously morphed to take on even more subjects, but the original name remains.

If you are a newcomer, please don't jump to conclusions before you know what you're talking about.

When the "Tattler" started, it was nothing more than a place to talk about the weird stuff that passengers see and do when they're riding around on CTA vehicles. Only recently has the site has morphed into a forum for policy and operations discussions. While it's obvious CTA has taken an interest in the Tattler as a channel to reach interested riders, I think it's a unfair to call Kevin's integrity into question and claim that he's Ron Huberman's puppet because he doesn't agree with every dissenting opinion expressed on his blog. That seems to be the tone of an increasing number of posts over the last few days and I find it distasteful. It's okay to disagree with someone's opinion, but it's beyond the pale to question a person's character because that person doesn't agree with you.

Rusty is a blowhard. That's more than obvious to reasonable readers. I don't know why you guys let yourselves get so upset by him.

Mind you, he is clever enough to realize that no modest citizen website will have the resources to parse reams and reams of raw data from a massive public-transit agency. His inflammatory comments were clearly aimed at setting you up for failure, nothing more.

As I've learned (the hard way) over at CHICAGO CARLESS, your argument curries a lot more favor when you're actually respecting the other people you're talking to. Next time, reduce his relevancy by not bothering to take the bait. The Tattler is a class act, no matter what one wag has to say about it.

Kevin B: Even I don't think the 22 is 100% unreliable.
I'm going with somewhat over 95% unreliable.

I often take the 22 to the Metra station at Lunt. It's close to a mile from me. Half the time I end up walking the mile & still beat the Clark bus there & I'm a slow walker.
But there are some times when it actually works. But I often have some long waits, over 30 minutes.

UIC:

I was mostly kidding. But again, you can prove almost anything if you want to and especially if you don't have anyone allowed to challenge your premise.

KevinB

=======
I don't want the raw data. I don't want to sit around and figure out what it means--it's not my job, it's the job of some people at the CTA.
=======

I don't want the raw data, either. I don't have the resources to parse and crunch it into anything meaningful.

And as many have pointed out, I have a precieved bias that would call into question any metrics I would choose to be meaningful, anyway.

And that's why we're not talking about something that is someone's job at CTA. They also have a bias when they are reporting on their own performance. And that is why the summaries that they bother to post online cannot be taken as gospel. They tell the story that someone at CTA decided they would tell.

What I am saying is that if you want to judge performance at the CTA, you don't have the CTA judge themselves. You hire an outside auditor to judge them.

Or you don't. You can continue to trust that the story they're telling us is true. How important is it to you? For how many years did so many people trust the Bush administration's assessments? Long enough for Bush to get elected to a second term.

Perhaps the real story behind the numbers isn't significantly different than the version they've chosen to tell us. But how do we know?

The numbers they release to us are the numbers they want to release to us. And they crunch them the way they want to crunch them. And they crunch them differently than the previous administration crunched them.

That last fact should make taxpayers nervous. Do you want to take their word that the new way of crunching the numbers gives us better information than the old way? Or does it just make things look better than before.

On January 21, 1981, the Reagan administration changed the way unemployment figures were calculated. Instantly there was an improvement in unemployment numbers over what had been happening during the end of the Carter administration. And to this day, even though the measurments are different, the media will still report pre-1981 numbers as if they were comperable to post-1981 figures.

Now you can pretend what they're posting on the website is raw data all you want, but that is a huge incorrect assumption.


======
Scanning the posts from the past few months, I found many of the subjects dealt with service enhancements. Some even verged on free PR for the CTA.
======

It certainly has gotten that way. And that's part of why I have such distrust of Huberman. He came in with no transit experince, and no executive experience. All he really had going for him is a strong background in PR.

He's done an excellent job in winning over people, especially those he can meet in person. He's a hell of a nice guy who seems so darn sincere... and he even grants Kevin access that he never dreamed he could have. So why not give him the benefit of the doubt? Why not report all his good deads, and regurgetate press releases? Ron's a nice guy... and he might get mad if there was any actual tattling going on.

And let's make sure that the detractors are charactarized as nut cases and malcontents. Criticism will not be tollerated. Anyone who doesn't join the cult must be discredited.

Well, sorry, Kevin. But there are lurkers out there who know that the world of CTA goes beyond the PR you've been regurgitating lately. And this "but the numbers (provided by Ron) prove that Ron is god" bent of late is pretty transparent, too.

I'm not the one "horribly misinformed". I'm not informed enough, but I'm not misinformed. I'm not informed because the President's Report is a self-evaluation, and the numbers you think are raw data are not raw data. It is you that are horribly misinformed.

There's more to reporting than regurgitating the psudo-inside information that your friend Ron feeds you. The accesss you've gotten to what's presented to you as the inside isn't valuable at all. It has skewed your view of the CTA and of your friend Ron to the point that there is little tattling going on here anymore.

rusty's swan song?

now if you'll excuse me i have to get in line for the Ron-flavored Kool Aid ;)

ifeel:

Don't drink it, it's not really kool-aid!


KevinB

It seriously sounds like there needs to be a whole 'nother CTA blog started by someone else. There's a reason why the "Republicans" and "Democrats" don't share the same blog/website.

I wish Kevin wouldn't have posted this, because it's far too defensive for a reply to critics who haven't actually said anything that deserves a reply. As someone who writes a blog of my own, I feel a good rule of thumb is that if you start a post with the words "I don't ordinarily [do x]," and then proceed to do x, it's a bad idea.

Furthermore, it's not at all clear that Rusty can be convinced anyway. He plainly has no idea what he's talking about, since the CTA is of course subject to state and federal audits as it is. And like every other major organization, the CTA undergoes a yearly independent financial audit anyway.

Further(further)more, it's not at all clear that what he's asking for is even reasonable taken at face value. I doubt that the reporting of these kinds of mundane numbers would be within the scope of an independent review anyway. It looks to me that the MTA in New York and the WMATA in DC self-report their ridership numbers, for example.

It appears that what Rusty is advocating for is that the CTA, apparently unlike other major transit agencies, spend a bunch of money to have these numbers crunched and reported by someone else. And for what? Well, because Huberman used to work in public relations, and ... wait, no, that's it.

I'm sorry, but that is INCREDIBLY weak tea, no matter how many long comments and forced analogies he comes up with in an effort to convince us all otherwise. The CTA's credibility is simply not an issue here.

And for that matter, neither is the Tattler's. Rusty ought to be ashamed to have implied otherwise.

I think we should help Rusty come up with names for his competing, critical CTA blog:

CTA Whiner
CTA: Conspiracy Theory Authority
CTAuditor

Come on, everyone can play!

How about:

Critical Thinking Absence

Better idea:
Instead of just being critical of the CTA, Rusty could complain about the rest of the RTA as well.

RTA: Rusty's Thick-Headed Arguments

You know folks, it's now progressed to personal attacks on someones character. I don't really like this place when it gets like that.

There's an old saying (I'll probably misquote, it but you will get the point).

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

In this case, I do agree with most of what Rusty said. I've said it before as well. One of my favorite phrases is the Ron Huberman "fanboys". You can see them even in this thread, people who I've never seen before (like "achicagoan")


Kevin is a nice likeable guy, he provides alot of useful information and I enjoy the tattler, but sometimes he seems to be channeling John Hilkevitch over at the Tribune.

I basically distrust anything the CTA says. My parents taught me to trust but verify and as it's been pointed out, many of the projects that have been completed were started long before Ron's tenure as head of the CTA. The few places that do critique his performance have described his spending "as that of a drunken sailor". Some examples would be the contract awarded to the firm to lease all those CTA properties(4.x million over 5 years) and the 180K a year Daley man that the CTA hired to "manage" that contract. That 180K+5 Mil could go a long way to improvements. Also, the CTA audits are a joke. I don't think there has ever been a comprehensive operational audit of the CTA and it's practices. If there was, I could bet there would be a few less 125K a year employees on Clinton Street. I think that is just the tip of the iceberg for an organization that always cries "we need money"...They remind me of Emil Jones and his wanting a pay raise. That having been said, we do need a comprehensive capitol bill, but the cynic in me says that is not going to be spent wisely. We also only have to look to the new station designs to see how bad of a job they did with money they had at the time (not Rons fault either, they got designed before his coming onboard too)

There are public minded organizations that can "crunch the data" if they were provided the access to that data rather than the "massaged version" that makes the CTA look the best it possibly can. Look at the stir that the BGA caused by putting up the names and salary of the CTA people...that's all public information, but no one ever put it in a format that was easily accessible...and lo and behold the light of day shined upon a dark and unknown place.

We need the questioners, and the cage rattlers and the rabble-rousers as they are the ones that question and challenge the status quo...not the fanboys and lapdogs and yes men, who quote the party line and never ask the questions that need to be asked and never demand the answers that need to be demanded. We need the Rustys of the world to keep the world an honest place.

KevinB

[Also, the CTA audits are a joke.]

Fine, but why? What makes them a joke?

This is exactly what I'm talking about; some people simply can't be convinced. If the CTA doesn't have an independent auditor, they need to get one or they can't be trusted! And if they are independently audited, well, those audits are waved off as a joke.

You seem to have constructed a self-perpetuating no-win scenario for the CTA in this case. Or maybe I'm just a fanboy for noticing that you're talking out of both sides of your mouth.

(By the way, a quick note: calling people "fanboys" IS a personal attack, because it's a way of dismissing an argument based on who is making it instead of addressing the argument itself. I know you're bothered by personal attacks, because you just said as much, so I thought I'd point that out to you before you get too enamored with Rusty's use of the term.)

[I don't think there has ever been a comprehensive operational audit of the CTA and it's practices.]

That's just silly, and it goes to prove my second point, that the detractors in this case have no idea what they're talking about. The Illinois Auditor General released a comprehensive audit of the entire RTA system two years ago (Google it, it's not hard to find). And the feds, if I'm not mistaken, are required to audit the CTA every few years too.

I believe this site has a healthy dose of criticism. I think most people think Rusty is wrong though, but he keeps at it.

Either you trust the numbers or you don't. It's like Wall Street reports its own quarterly earnings. Everyone self-reports. This is not an unusual thing, yet he acts as though it is. Maybe Rusty invested in Enron...

I agree, the personal attacks are way out of line.
I guess I find myself somewhere in the middle of the trust/distrust love/not love of the CTA and Ron. More often than not, I'm in the trust and love category, but I have lots of little minor issues that add up into some pretty moderate frustration.
I'll throw this out there, and I've said it before, but I don't see Ron doing anything that's truly spectacular. He's doing what he's supposed to do: fixing Blue Line slow zones instead of saving up to build a Circle Line, replacing buses, completing station rebuilds on time... however, by simply doing these things- which again are what he and his management team are SUPPOSED to do, he's a breath of fresh air compared to Frank and light years ahead.
As far as data goes, of course the CTA is going to promote numbers that make them look good. You're not going to see very many public agencies (or private companies for that matter) highlight data that makes them look bad without issuing a major mea culpa alongside. Why not release the raw data? Because so few people want it and it's hard to dissect it and relate to it. Do you want it? File a FOIA request and have at it.

As far as audits go, I'd encourage you to check out the Auditor General's report on the transit agencies and RTA. It's one thing to claim internal audits are a "joke"- even though that denigrates the integrity of their audit department staff- but when you have an independent audit done by the highest auditing authority of the state, you ought consider it valid. I know people that can vouch for how thorough that audit was.

[I'll throw this out there, and I've said it before, but I don't see Ron doing anything that's truly spectacular. He's doing what he's supposed to do: fixing Blue Line slow zones instead of saving up to build a Circle Line, replacing buses, completing station rebuilds on time...]

I'll also add, as a general observation, that we're in a major recession. In response, the CTA has instituted a modest fare increase, but significant service cuts seem to be completely off the board for the time being.

I'm not really in the business of dividing up credit between Huberman and Kruesi and others. But for all the dire talk, the agency seems to be in relatively good financial shape. That's got to count for something.

Bonmot,

You'd think so, except Rusty has repeatedly said he doesn't the stats are incorrect. He just thinks they're "meaningless." He doesn't say how they're "meaningless." He just asserts, against many different people telling him useful things they've learned from these stats and ways that they match up with our personal experience of change in the system, that they're "meaningless."

Rusty is a troll, pure and simple. One of the difficulties in the internet is that trolls can be tough to exert pressure against, because there's often someone like yourself who is new to the discussion, thinks everyone is acting from good faith, and says "wait, I didn't see the last thread, but ..."

Please don't tell us how Rusty's argument can be reconciled with good faith until you actually grapple with his arguments in some of their multi-post omnidirectional, counterfactual anger.

He is a troll.

KevinB,

Rusty hasn't done any useful questioning of the data. He hasn't pointed to anything he's skeptical of. Again, he actually asserts that it's correct. He simply says it's meaningless.

If you think some of the data is inaccurate, by all means tell us what so we can accept your critique or show you why we think your wrong.

At this point, one of the best things that can be said about Huberman is the utter incoherence of the critics. Two years ago, everyone knew exactly what was wrong with Rusty and Kruesi's CTA. today, the best the critics can come up with is "what if I said courtesy had gone down by 85%??????"

If that's the best you got, you might as well not post.

>My parents taught me to trust but verify

Which is of course what the rest of us are doing!

We see these stats; we also ride the frickin' CTA!

They seem to correspond to improvements we've seen. They seem to quantify those improvements.

What your side does isn't 'trust but verify.' It's 'distrust and belittle the idea of verifying.'

If there had been a truly "comprehensive" operational audit, the blue line fiasco would not have happened. It would have not taken the "accident" (I hate that word, as it was not an accident but a pre-meditated and inevitable result of faking inspections).

The GA audits were mostly cursory overviews and not the nitty-gritty operations audits where you get a non-partisan engineering firms to come in and look at things like the x-rays that were taken of the tracks and when people stated looking, they saw the same ones over and over again.

There's a trust but verify example. Most of the people who faked those records are still there, are still working and still getting paid...as I remember only one or two got fired cause we all know from our infamous "Belmont Misspelling" example, incompetence is not a reason for termination at the CTA.

Good lord if that policy ever went into effect the CTA payroll would probably go down by 2/3 overnight. (Purely based on my random sampling of data there). Please don't look behind the curtain!

Share and Enjoy!

KevinB

I'm coming late to this debate, but the issue is not the stats. It's interpretation of the stats that matter. My issue is that I don't think we're asking the right questions. From what I hear, Huberman is burning through cash like a short timer. He's hired many high priced senior management types. Not to say they don't do work, but do you need another six figure marketing genius? Did anyone ever get a listing of the CTA employees making over $100K? More importantly what are they doing?

Not that I don't appreciate it, but where did the funds come from to magically fix the slow zones? That's a serious amount of construction, OT, etc. I don't remember reading anything about CTA getting a massive infusion of money from the Feds, State, or the City that would have paid for all that work.

These lease "deals" that Huberman keeps announcing. There's the implication that its a good deal for CTA to get these buses fast. Has Huberman or the CTA explained why they are a good deal? Do they save CTA money? If we have all these "shovel ready" projects that Brown is talking about, why don't they lease the buses instead of buying them?

The other thing about the cash is that for all the crap that Kruesi got, I can't believe that he wouldn't want to do many of the fixes that Huberman has instituted. Kruesi may be many thing, but stupid ain't one of them. One theory is that Kruesi had saved a pot of money for Huberman to spend. The other theory is that Huberman is moving money from places that he's not supposed to. Where is the money coming from to pay for all of Huberman's nice stats?

[Where is the money coming from to pay for all of Huberman's nice stats?]

You know what would clear that up? An independent audit!

JP,

I actually do remember the CTA getting a large ($227 million) cash infusion from the city just under a year ago ( http://www.ctatattler.com/2008/02/daley-unveils-2.html ). It was after track reconstruction began on the blue and red lines, which supposedly came from "modifying exising contracts to accomplish more work" and "allocating existing bond revenue" ( http://www.transitchicago.com/news/default.aspx?Month=7&Year=2007&Category=&Archive=y&ArticleId=409 ). The plans for using the $227 million were made into a powerpoint (obviously) known as "Transforming the CTA" ( http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/presidents_office/20080304cityclubRH.pdf ). The subject of statistics themselves isn't actually mentioned, just the idea of "communication improvement strategies", which is mostly new signage, redesigned website, etc.; but I can only assume that the money for his nice stats came out of that.

The $227 Million is from State funds and if I remember right part of the "Doomsday" funding needed to pay for operations (salaries, fuel) and not capital (tracks, buses and trains). Or the City $227 million was part of the "Doomsday" bailout that came with the state money.

The press release you reference says nothing about funding. Just moving some money around and that the non Blue Line would cost $14.7 million. Nothing about the O'Hare branch of the Blue line or how much it costs. If I remember correctly, and I could be wrong, the O'Hare branch was the longest and most expensive part of the slow zone repairs.

I checked out the Powerpoint too and don't see anything about $227 Million. I do see a lot about the pension and contract costs. If I remember correctly, Huberman and Daley got run over in the idiotic bid for labor peace/Olympics. The give aways on that are insane (prevailing wage for trades!?!).

It's not that Huberman spent the money on stats. I don't have any problem with more measurable stats. My issue is that there has been a lot of emphasis on what Huberman has done (more cleanings, slow zone reduction, bus tracker, etc.) most of which is great. My issues is how is he paying for all these improvements. My suspicion is that there are some long-term costs that are involved and still unaccountable. In 5-10 years, when there's another Doomsday scenario will we just gloss over it (like we did with the Blue line ties that started this slow zone stuff to begin with). Or will we want to nip it in the bud and have a true accounting for what CTA is spending while it is happening.

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