I’m in San Francisco on a fairly regular basis, which has given me ample time to see, repeatedly, ads on the side of MUNI buses. I can’t remember the wording, since I only see these ads for instants at a time, but they pretty much say, “Fill out the census, so that we know how many buses we need.” I’ve hated the ad since I first saw it but, as I said, I only saw it in microseconds driving by and, until yesterday, couldn’t put my finger on the flaw in it.
Then, it hit me: the number of buses needed is driven by the number riders, not by number of citizens. No matter the number of citizens, if they’re not taking the bus, you don’t need new ones. MUNI’s own ridership statistics should be driving bus purchases or disposal. If MUNI is relying on the census to determine the size of its fleet (sort of a bus quota), it’s yet another government organization that is not functioning at maximum efficiency.