The 2006 "Rippers" for Worst Agency
Here, the proverbial "tails" to the "heads" of the Best Agencies noted previously. These are the "not-so-coveted" awards, and are, once again, totally arbitrary. Generally, either vague Construction Documents, or even covert attempts to skewer a Supplier or Contractor have resulted in strained relationships, higher costs, and lower quality. The result is the award of a "Worst Agency Ripper".
Unlike the "Best Agencies", where four out of last years five award winners repeated, only three out of the '05 worst maintained their lowly status. However, it was not so much of a case of their improvement as it was the lowering of others.
Rest easily, though. Surely the FTA is on this, and will see fit to shed some light on whatever these people are doing to make life more difficult for suppliers and contractors, and more costly for their patrons.
As before, this list is entirely subjective and is shown in alphabetical order to avoid having to choose the total loser of the group.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART): Even the staff admits that suppliers and contractors add a sizeable dollar amount to their estimates called the "DART Factor". This is in addition to the usual fudge factors that are part of bidding. Sadly, DART does not get a better product for the extra money, although that money will cover the mountain of paperwork that must be done while doing business with them. An anonymous contributer thinks that it even goes beyond that, to the point that DART actually wants to bankrupt contractors!
Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA): No perceived change has occurred here, those who know nothing may still be directing those in the know.
North San Diego County Transit District: Just when the Sprinter Project seems to be going better, along comes a new contracting operator, and on-time performance suffers. Read this story, and you will see that officials are good at spinning.
Tren Urbano: It may not be on the mainland, but it is part of the United States. So, what happened in San Juan? Who is responsible? Wasn't there alot of money spent? Answers to the first question will come before answers to the second, for sure. And then, there will be embarrasment concerning the third question. Oh, and will this project prove that the Feds are better at funding than administering?
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA): Just because the facilities are nice doesn't mean things are better. Just because the once critical Blog is no longer current doesn't mean things are better, either.
Last years agencies that climbed out of the morass include the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and St. Louis Metro Transit (Metrolink). This is probably due to the fact that no new projects are underway for either, and both are enjoying increased ridership.
You might be thinking, why did Rip exclude the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)? I know, there's a blog that records some crazy stuff, but in spite of their recent derailment due to wide gage, CTA moves alot of people on an aging system. And, they seem to get along well with suppliers and contractors. That is a plus today.
How about Amtrak? In the midwest, there is an expression that goes, "making a silk purse out of a sow's ear". It is hard to imagine any agency that does more with less, with national political nonsense thrown in besides, than Amtrak.
If you are an employee of one of the losing agencies, you are probably not surprised. All I can say is, better luck in the future.
As with the Best Agency Rippers, comments and observations are welcome.