Thursday, March 24, 2011

HSR Surveys that find out what you already know

Here's a blog, below, that's religious about high-speed rail.  This blog quotes a survey that says 79% of travellers would use high-speed rail.

I have to ask, 79% of which travellers, daily commuter-travellers who go thirty miles each way?  Air travellers who go to Japan or the UK? In which countries?  If in the US, which high-speed rail are they talking about?  Is it a hypothetical question?   My point is that any percentages are a nonsense conclusion based on loaded, nonsense questions.  

This survey only compares trains to planes. The survey finds that it is 79% of all "travellers" who will choose HSR, regardless of cost, presumably, but it is less, 61%, if the cost is the same or better (than flying).  Do you see any logic here? Frankly, I have no idea how to make sense of this data.

The people who love surveys like this have no "crap-detectors." Said more politely, they have impaired critical judgement. Or, they willfully support such surveys to reinforce their beliefs, regardless of any facts.

So, who conducted this survey? (That should always be the first question.)  The blogger tells us, SilverRail Technologies.  Let's look at SilverRail's Mission Statement:

Developed by a team of highly experienced travel e-commerce experts obsessed with improving online travel planning, SilverRail Technologies has built the first global rail platform.
A global explosion (!) in high-speed rail, awareness of the environmental impact of travel, hassles associated with air travel, and industry deregulation have coalesced into a perfect storm, making passenger rail the travel industry’s most dynamic and fastest-growing sector.
We consolidate passenger rail products from across the globe into an integrated single-source platform that removes the complexity of selling rail anywhere in the world.

Are we talking about a high-speed rail survey conducted by a company that is dedicated to "selling rail anywhere in the world?"

Having read this, how much more do you need to know about their "survey?"  This isn't a survey; it's a marketing product dressed up to look like a survey.  The reason I mention this is that the CHSRA had itself commissioned a number of such surveys.  In politics they are called "push-polls." The questions are so rigged that the answer is built into the question. "On a scale of one to ten, how much do you love puppies?"

I've been following this particular blog for some time.  Anyone so single-minded in their support of high-speed rail must either be a rail-geek for whom all problems in the world (including his personal ones) can be solved by railroads, or they have something personal to gain, such as a pay check.

79% of Travelers Would Use High Speed Rail

Mar 22nd, 2011 | Posted by Robert Cruickshank

I know you’ll all be shocked to read this:

High speed rail is a very realistic alternative in Europe and Asia, but in the US there are very few routes that can currently be replaced by rail transport. When asked whether they would pick rail over air when available:

* 79% would choose train over plane if high-speed rail options existed.
* 61% would choose rail over air if the cost was the same or better.

The hassles involved in air travel have also helped increase interest in rail alternatives:

* 86% of people would accept having the entire time from door-to-door be longer to avoid the process of checking in, security and boarding.
* 66% would willingly add an hour or more of total travel to their trips to avoid the hassles of long lines, airport security and baggage fees.

Even this survey, commissioned by SilverRail Technologies, probably understates the reasons why people would take trains. [Of course it does!]