Hm, some difficult questions for the Baker commision’s T report. Among the fairly explosive allegations were that the T was sitting on billions of unused funds, and that absenteeism was rampant.
Well gosh, are those things actually true?
McGee, for example, wanted to know more about the $2.2 billion in capital funds that the report said the T failed to spend over the last five years. McGee remarked that there’s an image out there of “$2 billion sitting around in a drawer unspent.” According to a report in theGlobe, “no one answered that question clearly.”
And again from Commonwealth, Steve Koczela pushes back on the absenteeism numbers, leaked to the press devoid of context or methodology for weeks:
The T panel’s report said the average absence rate at the transit agency is 11 to 12 percent, meaning roughly a tenth of the workers fail to show up on any given day. In calculating that percentage, the panel divided the average number of unscheduled days away from work (22.5) by the average number of days T workers actually do show up at work (204). The calculation is puzzling. Absenteeism is normally calculated by dividing the average number of days workers are absent by the total number of work days in a year. The T’s “employee availability reports” list 261 work days in a year, meaning the calculation would be 22.5 divided by 261, or 8.67 percent. One could debate whether holidays and other types of scheduled days off should be removed from the 261 work day total, but it is clear that removing the unscheduled days off from the work day total is misleading and inflates the absenteeism rate.
… The T panel’s approach makes impossible any comparison to absenteeism figures outside of the MBTA. The T panel report compared the 11-12 percent MBTA absenteeism rate to rates of 5-6 percent at unspecified peer agencies and 3 percent for the transportation industry as a whole. Neither comparison is accurate.
Look, I’m 100% for reform as necessary. What I can’t get with is crappy methodology leading to a politically corrosive media strategy — seemingly intended to foist undeserved blame on employees of a major public asset.
The Baker administration is not playing it straight. That’s a damn shame.