The astoundingly bad logic of Jordan Bateman

Today BC Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced a ten-year transportation plan for BC. During the press conference he was asked about the Metro Vancouver transportation plebiscite, and if the province is considering reforming TransLink, because this is one of the reasons why people are considering voting ‘no’. His answer?

At this point in time, the province has no plans to make any further improvements to governance at TransLink.

So vote ‘yes’ or vote ‘no’, no matter what happens in the plebiscite the province has no plans to change TransLink’s governance.

And what does Jordan Bateman have to say about this?

Stone killed yes side claim that change will come to TransLink either way. Voting NO the best way to show gov’t we want this fixed.

He’s saying that you should vote ‘no’ so TransLink’s governance will be fixed, using Todd Stone’s statement of “no plans to make any further improvements to governance at TransLink” as support.

What kind of crazy logic is running through Mr. Bateman’s mind? It’s mind-boggling just how bad this logic is!

Seriously, that’s pretty weak, Jordan.

“That’s pretty weak, Jordan.”

I was on CKNW on Tuesday talking about “waste” at TransLink, prompted by my post poking holes in the “TransLink is extremely wasteful” myth. Personally I think the interview got a little side-tracked (I was expecting to talk more about the “waste” than general TransLink issues), but people have told me that I did a good job. Thanks to everybody who listened!

And after I was on, Jordan Bateman was on The Jon McComb Show to offer a rebuttal. If you listen, it wasn’t much of a rebuttal.

When Mr. McComb asked Mr. Bateman what the total amount of waste the CTF has found is, Mr. Bateman couldn’t answer, prompting Mr. McComb to say

That’s pretty weak, Jordan.

Mr. Bateman then talked about how TransLink was found to have a cost per revenue passenger about 30% higher than Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto’s transit system, and that this is a sign that TransLink is spending way too much money to transport people around.

Unfortunately that was thoroughly debunked in 2013.

When you consider the amount of bus service hours that are provided per passenger revenue dollar in fares, TransLink significantly outperforms Toronto and Montreal in this regard. TransLink provides more transit service per revenue passenger than other transit agencies.

TransLink can provide the same amount of service hours for just 81% of the cost as the Toronto TTC. Alternatively, for every tax and fare-payer dollar, TransLink provides 22% more transit.

Trotting out debunked numbers to make your argument? That’s pretty weak, Jordan.

And then Mr. McComb asked Mr. Bateman if the CTF is going to release a list of their contributors. Mr. Bateman hid behind an argument that he doesn’t know what the rules are and nobody knows what the rules are, saying that he’d think about releasing them. Keep in mind that they have a post about protecting the privacy of their donors so I think that Mr. Bateman was just paying lip-service to the idea to get Mr. McComb off his back.

That’s pretty weak, Jordan.

Regarding Translink’s ‘Fare Not Paid’ Button

On January 6, 2015, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation put out a press release stating

TransLink bus drivers pressed a special button in their coaches to record a “fare not paid” more than 2.76 million times in 2013…

2.76 million times! That’s a lot of button presses and a huge amount of fare evasion! Like Jordan Bateman, the CTF’s BC Director, said:

These bus drivers should be checked for carpal tunnel syndrome from having to repeatedly push that fare evasion button. TransLink executives have turned a blind eye to millions of fare cheats, causing unnecessary financial grief for honest riders and taxpayers.

Indeed! TransLink executives really don’t give a shit about fare cheats. They have no fucks to give about fare cheats. They put up giant signs saying “FARE CHEATS WELCOME HERE” on every bus.

Well, no, they didn’t. That’s hyperbolic. And so are the statements from Jordan Bateman and the CTF.

With no context, 2.76 million presses of the “fare not paid” button sounds like a lot, and it is. But each one of those button presses isn’t someone refusing to pay their fare. If you read the actual document you’ll find this:

A “fare not paid” entry can represent one of a range of fare-related discrepancies. An issue can include: a partial payment of fare; overpayment of a fare into a bus fare box, which cannot dispense change; failure of a passenger to AddFare when travelling across zones; or fare evasion. It is not the intent of this tool to document revenue loss.

So those 2.76 million button presses were not 2.76 million instances of fare evasion. Some of them were because someone paid, but not enough. Some of them were because someone paid too much!

Strangely, the CTF press release makes no mention of that, instead labelling every one of these button presses as caused by “fare cheats” and “freeloaders”.

With no context, 2.76 million presses of the “fare not paid” button sounds like a lot, and it is. But how many people boarded buses in 2013? If it’s five million, then TransLink’s got a huge problem. If it’s 50 million, then TransLink still has a problem with a potential “fare loss” of about 5.5%.

TransLink didn’t have 5 million bus boardings in 2013. It didn’t have 50 million. It didn’t even have 100 million. In 2013, TransLink had 228 million bus boardings (from Page 9 of their 2013 Bus Service Performance Review). Is 2.76 million out of 228 million still a huge problem? It’s 1.2% of bus riders. One point two percent.

That’s what happens when you take raw numbers out of context. You can take those numbers and have them fit your narrative. In Jordan Bateman’s narrative, TransLink is horribly wasteful and not deserving of any tax dollars. Finding “fare cheats” and “freeloaders” is easy to do when you just yell TWO POINT SEVEN SIX MILLION FARES NOT PAID without giving any context whatsoever. Unfortunately, reality tends to illuminate these context-free statements, showing that Jordan Bateman and the CTF are being intellectually dishonest on this issue.