Wednesday, March 19, 2014

OMG: Muni's Customer Satisfaction Survey Cost Six-Figures

Never underestimate how far, amounts they're willing to spend, a government agency and those who run it will go to make themselves appear to be pleasing us - the general public. Also never depend upon corporate for-profit media to make those agencies and their stewardship of funds as transparent as possible.

First up, the SF Chronicle's transportation beat writer Michael Cabanatuan wrote a "government agency said, no other voice needed" article on March 14 about the SF Metropolitan Transportation Agency's poll that reported positive findings on itself:

The customer survey, conducted by Corey, Canapary & Galanis research during two months last spring, queried 22,000 adult Muni riders aboard buses, trains, streetcars and cable cars throughout the system. [...]

The Muni survey, conducted in part to comply with federal civil rights laws, gives the transit agency a good look at who rides the system - and why. According to the survey, most Muni riders are regulars, and the majority of their trips are not to get to or from work. About 42 percent ride Muni for work while 22 percent use it for social, entertainment and recreation trips. [...]

Nope, no need for the Chronicle to include a voice other than Muni's. Oh, the paper also omitted the cost of the survey. So much for reporting basic facts.

It took three days of emailing Muni's public relations deputy Paul Rose, but late today I obtained from him the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on the poll - a cool quarter-million:

The on board survey contract is for a not to exceed amount of $256,060 and includes the survey, data entry, data analysis, and summary. Findings can be found here.

My, what a healthy endowment of funds. Maybe it's just me and my Deep Throating practices of following the money, and no other Chronicle reader wants to know how much Muni spent on Muni polling. I'm curious now to learn what Muni's survey and polling budget was for the last five years and how much is allocated for FYs 14 and 15.

There was another totally different Muni poll making news recently, this time on March 13 on the weakly alternative SF Weekly's site written by Melissa Hellmann:

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency sent an online survey to 285,000 Clipper Card holders between November and December 2013. The responses were split between users who claimed a San Francisco zip code and commuters who live outside of the city. Overall, Muni received a 3.12 average rating, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest score.

Again, I obtained the cost info from Muni's Paul Rose:

The annual online survey license cost was $270.

That is quite a gap between the costs of each survey. By the way, Muni has not posted any releases about the surveys on its press page and I would think they would want to show the taxpayers and riders what the findings were and how public money was spent.

Memo to SF Chronicle and SF Weekly writers and editors: Follow the Muni money!

1 comment:

Rusty said...

Thanks, Michael! I'm not surprised to learn that the SFMTA squanders money on this kind of self-promotion. The agency appears to have been run incompetently for decades -- certainly ever since I've lived in San Francisco.