Sunday, August 30, 2009

Survey Fail

Not 100% sure on which government run/sponsored entity is ultimately at fault for the following; the Post Office or RTD.

On Thursday of this week I got a survey card from RTD asking me how often I used RTD buses or light rail. The survey offered some from free ride coupons which I may be able to use which was nice of them. I completed the survey and put the card in the mail.

On Saturday, two days later, guess what I found in the mailbox? The same survey card! It had my name and address on one side and RTD's on the other with the "No postage necessary..." postage.

Side 1...

Side 2...

I'm no Post Office expert, but I'm assuming the card was re-delivered to me because my name and address was scanned instead of RTDs. A human obviously wouldn't make this mistake since the postage and the delivery address are on the same side--pretty simple.

I'm also assuming that either side of this card has a 50/50 chance of being read by the Post Office scanner for delivery.

We know the population of Denver, Aurora, and Boulder alone was 2,998,878 in 2007. The RTD service area is actually much larger, but I'm having a hard time finding the stats. We can assume a 10% survey sample rate (conservative as I've done nothing to my knowledge to end up on RTD's list and I was selected).

The postage on a postcard is $0.28, assuming RTD didn't get any kind of discount.

As most folks in the Denver Metro know, RTD is heavily subsidized by taxpayer money and has never been self-sustainable. So how much taxpayer money did RTD just waste?

(2,998,878 * .10) * .28 * .50 = $41,984.29

And if the sample size was 25%?

(2,998,878 * .25) * .28 * .50 = $104,960.73

Not a lot by today's standards, but I find it interesting that even the simple exercise of collecting data from local residents on what is essentially a government service creates waste.

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