Friday, February 29, 2008

"There is a high level of fraud and abuse in the system."

You got to love it when Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) executives, who rarely ride the buses themselves, shoot off their mouths about what is supposedly happening on their system. Today's Virginian-Pravda brings us that gem of a quote from HRT Vice President David Sullivan.

So that's what statistics infer? There's an above average number of transfers being issued, so there must be "a high level of fraud and abuse in the system?" Memo to HRT: before trotting such a lame-brained theory out in public and making fools of yourselves, run it past your User Citizen Advisory Committee (UCAC) first. They'd tell you how nutty it is.

Having been a regular bus rider since August, 2004, let me tell you what really goes on. There is some fraud in the system. In downtown Norfolk, a few people will try to sell their transfers for $1-1.50 to cover their bus fare. However, the selling of transfers is limited:

1. They expire two hours after being issued.

2. They can't be used on the same route again.

I've never seen transfers sold anywhere but downtown Norfolk. That's probably because the large number of converging routes covers the second issue.

In at least as large a proportion as that I find unused transfers. Transfers that were issued and discarded without the stamp of a second bus on them. (I habitually read discarded transfers to try to see how people are moving through the route network.)

In addition, this region will always have a high number of transfers. Given the relatively low density and large land area, it often does take more than one bus to get somewhere.

Here's a simple solution: rather than making a mountain out of the abuse mole hill, simply crackdown on your drivers issuing late transfers especially on buses heading into downtown Norfolk.

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