Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Culture of Rudeness

Yesterday, the Examiner published a story claiming Metro ridership was off in July.
That riders are increasingly disgusted by Metro is no surprise, but we think it's a little too early to draw any conclusions about declining ridership.
Frankly, and believe us, this is hard to say, some of Metro's explanations made sense.
We're sure, however, that continued poor service will indeed drive people away over the long term.
But what's most interesting about this story is what top Metro spokeswoman, Lisa Farbstein, said in response to a WMAL reporter asking her about the ridership numbers.
Here's Farbstein nonchalantly giving her version (MP3) of the data.
OK great. That's her take. Fine. Done.
Then, out of left field, comes Farbstein's apparently NSFW response (This MP3 has been cleverly cleaned up) to the question about where the Examiner got its numbers.
It's fine if she disagrees with the Examiner's reporting, it's to be expected, and maybe she's right. But for Metro's PR head to react this defensively and squander a golden opportunity to set, from her point of view, the record straight is amazing.
Then again, rudeness seems to be a growing cancer in WMATA culture, as is apparent when some Metro employees are asked even the most simple of questions. Here, too.
If Farbstein's demeanor is an example of Metro's plans to repair its quickly deteriorating public image, Metro had better go back to the drawing board and come up with something a little less inflammatory.

Other items:
Metro subcontractor electrocuted on the job (WaPo)
Manual operation for the foreseeable future (WaPo)
Bye Bye Verizon monopoly (WMATA)
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WashingtonGardener said...

i'd like to see if bus #s increased while metro train went down in july - was certainly the case for me and seeing lot of new faces on the s2/4/9 and #70s routes

Anonymous said...

What I found absolutly shocking from that Examiner article was the complete omission of energy prices from last year. They were comparing last years summer ridership stats, which were significantly higher than normal summer ridership- which, based on polling at the time, was due to high energy prices (price of oil as much as 2x what it is now).

To leave out that variable in trying to explain lower ridership numbers is a glaring omission by the writer and the Examiner staff.

I do believe that metro's crappy summer has played into lower ridership in recent months, but to blame it exclusively on one variable without even acknowledging the presence of the ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM is just mind boggling. People didn't drive as much last summer. They took public transit. Thus, metro's ridership last summer was way up last summer. Gas prices are significantly lower this summer from last summer, thus more people are able to drive.

My inclusion of energy prices is only ONE other variable that may have affected metro's ridership numbers. Did anyone bother to think about some of the other dozens of variables that may have had some effect. Global Economic Recession mean anything? Less jobs in the city means less people commuting into the city.

This was just such a ridiculous omission by the examiner that I couldn't believe anyone would have the audacity to take this article as any real inquiry into the issue. Yes, the accident was one variable, but to not even mention the other variables is just laughable.

Tom A. said...

Well, it's The Examiner, people. If you want good journalism, try the Post.

And they got their data from WMATA, not from their "special place!" I'd fire her ass.

ROB DOBI said...

even more shocking is the use of one of my t-shirt designs in the article!

Dave Stroup said...

I compared May 2008 to May 2009 to try and understand how/if the recession and energy prices were affecting ridership.

Not surprisingly, WMATA's stats were screwed up for May... if you take the data from their site at face value, ridership was up 4% in May over 2008... indicating that the recession and lower energy prices were not resulting in a loss of riders. If you omit the possibly incorrect data, you see basically no change from 2008 to 2009, again indicating the recession/energy prices is not having a huge impact.

a 2.7% loss of riders so far in August and a decline in July as well (from previous year) leads me to believe the aftermath of 6/22 is costing Metro around 1-1.5% of its rail ridership.

inked said...

Ughhh...seriously? That's Metro's top spokesperson? Has she been hanging out with Dick Cheney? What part of radio broadcast didn't she understand?

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