Friday, March 19, 2010
The Censeless Universe
The U.S. Census Bureau certainly has spent a lot of money getting the word about its once-a-decade operation this year, with promotional materials in just about every known language and a presence at all the ethnic festivals in San Francisco, including the St. Patrick's Day Parade last Saturday.
One of their national ad campaigns, however, is unintentionally ironic in the context of San Francisco. "If we don't know how many people we have, how do we know how many buses we need?" reads a huge billboard on the side of every other Muni bus these days.
This sounds as if the MTA (Municipal Transportation Agency) actually cares about its ridership and crowded buses, which as any Muni rider knows is a cruel fiction. In fact, the agency has just proposed yet another reduction in services along with another raise in fares after instituting the same counterintuitive policies just a few months ago. "How do we know how many buses we need?" seems to have less to do with actual ridership than how much money can be milked for six figure management salaries and multi-million "work orders" for other city departments such as the police. These ads are a perfect illustration of adding insult to injury.