Home > transport > Minister admits error in Parliament, 2nd minister denies it outside

Minister admits error in Parliament, 2nd minister denies it outside

Admittedly, that’s not the way these two stories were spun by the mainscream media. But that’s how it went down.

Recap: The car floodgates were thrown open in 2004 when the “forecast” deregistrations were kicked into, um, overdrive and the COE presses went pedal to the metal. Upton Sinclair strikes again (see top right of this here blog): all that yummy excise tax and licences and permits from the extra cars would have been so hard to pass up, don’t you think.


Another lovely day on the roads
(Credit: lynac – http://www.flickr.com/photos/lynac/4211864434/)

Now, getting public transport right is HARD. When you set it up as a profit making oligopoly (with publicly-listed players who are duty bound to maximise shareholder profits), you can only have two of {cheap, profitable, frequent enough to not be overloaded} in your model system. We’ll take the first two, thanks, and spend a nanoscopic portion of the profits on entertainingly disingenuous PR people to answer overcrowding complaints.

It’s so much easier to throw one’s hands up in the air, declare victory, start a car free-for-all and grab the cash falling from the sky. (Hands still up, right?) After all it only takes 20 minutes to get from anywhere to anywhere… for certain values of anywhere, and as long as you have the right number of outriders. For the rest, there’s Branded Paracetamol Extra Strength.

So, the Minister says that the vehicle population went up because they “persistently over-projected“. This error pattern isn’t normally tolerated in the private sector, let alone for five successive years, but whatever.

Now, the solution is to change the formula to use actual deregistrations. Aha! If deregistrations were over-projected, and they will now be measured at the actual level to input into the COE numbers, then the quota should go down. If the quota goes down, Econ 101 says price will go up. And… homo economicus comes to the party, sending COEs up 14K.

But wait: the Second Minster says “the spike in COE premiums and car prices this week was not caused by changes to a formula”. After all, there are so many other variables to point to, plus the new quota reduction hadn’t even kicked in yet, so how could the price move now because the supply will go down in future? [Hint: some people project more accurately than others. And homo economicus bats 1.00 – another neat standard feature. Batteries sold separately.]

They say that doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. But what do you call doing different things and pretending that nothing has changed?

[Update: The following month’s open category rose another 7K. Hurrah!]

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