The Globe’s transit columnist Robin Washington has a pretty blistering opinion piece, ironically about things that are not opinions. (“No excuse for MBTA report’s faulty math”). He systematically demonstrates that the Baker panel played either. a.) fast, loose and inflammatory, or b.) unacceptably sloppy with the facts, specifically regarding absenteeism and fares/operating expense ratio.
Faulty math is one thing, but the biggest disappointment of all this is there’s no reason mislead anyone. After last winter, who doesn’t know the T is broken, and broke, and has to raise fares? Every day your train didn’t come was convincing enough, regardless of what any other system was doing.
You didn’t need a panel to tell you that. But at least they could have gotten their facts right.
Let’s keep in mind that the Baker folks have tried hard to shift the focus from the amount of new money that’s going to be required (which none of this information contradicts), to issues of mis-management and misuse or non-use of resources. I’m certainly 100% for a thorough, reputable, and transparent audit. Put me down for reform and revenue.
But I’d say there’s an even bigger disappointment, and a warning: The whole point of the exercise was to identify areas that need to be fixed. But if you can’t measure the problem properly, then you can’t be trusted to fix it. And that’s exactly what the Baker administration is asking the legislature to do: Trust us. We’re smart and we’ll get it right.
Methodology = credibility. It matters — in fact, at this point it’s the only thing that matters. And it’s a darned good thing that Commonwealth Mag, the Globe, and others have been paying attention and riding herd on this thing.
I understand that Stephanie Pollock is a bona-fide transit supporter. Good on her. But to get this right she needs some empirical, skeptical eyes working on the data — not just those looking for a good story.
Do you trust the Mr. Fix-It administration to get this right? Right now, I don’t. They’ve got to earn it.