Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Other Correspondence with the DOT: A Case of Hiding the Statistical

*Other Correspondence with the DOT: A Case of Hiding the Statistical Truths

Behind the Statistical Lies and a Wall of Silence?

A letter was sent to the Minister for Transport in April 1992 attempting to establish some basic statistics concerning the number of taxis on the road, the number of fares handled, the number of complaints against drivers, the number of convictions following those complaints, the number of assaults on drivers, the number of taxi driver licences issued and cancelled annually and the statistics used by the department to regulate the supply of taxis on the road, fare structures and driver pay-ins. [Ml]

The reply from a DOT "Regional Transport Operations" head (dated11 .5.92) indicated inter alia that the DOT had assumed responsibility, (from the Roads & Traffic Authority), for public passenger vehicles in July 1990 under the new Passenger Transport Act. This official stated it was "not possible" to supply statisticson 6 of the 9 subject areas raised in the original letter. The most misleading aspect of this response was the claim that "....The statistics used by the DOT to determine the number of taxis to be onthe road is based on results of taxi performance surveys and measured by performance standards for taxi delivery." [M2-3]

This inadequate response led to another attempt by myself to obtain basic statistical information from the DOT and understand what management policy (if any) was used by the DOT for regulating thetaxi industry. I helpfully suggested a range of methods that the DOT could utilise to provide the basic statistical data originally requested but denied to me in their initial response. I again raised anomalies such as how could they determine the demand for new vehicles with nebulous concepts like "performance standards"and "efficiency" of delivery when no basic statistics are maintained on the number of passenger journeys per annum. Logic would suggest that an increase or decrease in the averaged number of passenger journeys per vehicle on the road (i.e. "performance efficiency") would require the maintenance of such basic statistics? [N1-4]

The reply, indicated in part a non-cooperative attitude of the DOT (if not a cover up). This letter confirmed the DOT did not keep information on the number of vehicle journeys and hence was indeed in no position to assess supply and demand factors for vehicles on road. The DOT fall back position here was to state, "The last survey was undertaken by a consultancy firm ….. in 1990" in order to "accurately and objectively determine the level of service provided". Yet the DOT and government's decisions to increase the number of taxis on the road in the 1990-92 period (which according to the DOT letter dated 11.4.92 was from 4,198 to 4,302 taxis) was not supported by this 1990survey. [N5-6]

Source: Sydney Taxi Corruption

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