28 August 2008

Up to 99% wrong!

"The man they can't ignore", aka Barry Doe, RAIL magazine's Fares Consultant, claims the Office of Rail Regulation's recent station usage figures are up to 99% wrong. We detailed this file in a recent post and it has attracted over 1,000 hits alone as it was linked to from a couple of websites, one being TransportInfo.org.uk.

The way in which data had been distributed between stations within the same town or city had been done differently this time round and had thrown up a few rather odd results. Gainsborough Central, you'll recall, in the heart of the LEYTR area, went from just 24 passengers for 2005/6 to over 33,000 in 2006/7.

In Barry Doe's locality - the Bournemouth area - he felt data for one of his local stations, Dorchester West, was likely to be highly inaccurate. The ORR claimed that only 172 people used the station to start/end their journey and 244 used it as an interchange point in 2006/7. He believed that the actual figure was likely to be around the 20,000 mark. A recent trip he made saw him calculate a conservative figure, from actual observed passengers there, of 40,000 was more likely. The combined ORR statistics for that station of 416 is a mere 1% of 40,000, so could it be that the ORR got it wrong by an astonishing 99%?

Certainly the stats are wrong but by what amount is to be disputed. We agree with Barry's summary in which he states that with the likelihood of very high percentage errors it does undermine the credibility of the entire process.

To quote Disraeli's semi-ironic one-liner, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."