datacollection.jpg

A week ago today, reader Mike sent us this photo after taking it:

While boarding inbound at Van Ness. When I walked down the stairs I saw both of these “data collection” agents playing solitare on the PDAs they had attached to lanyards.

The one chewing his fingernail had just stopped playing when he noticed I was getting my phone out. As the train pulled away they both went and sat down on the old people benches. Not pictured are two other data collection folks shooting the shit.

In his email, Mike asked us “Do you have any idea what we are paying these guys to do??”

Which is a great question, so we emailed SF MTA spokespeople Kristen Holland and Murray Bond three times in the past 7 days, but they haven’t been able to figure out what these folks do, either.

Which is surprising, given that the MTA’s shortfall is still, uh, shortfalling. You’d think that every job would be under scrutiny, wouldn’t you?

What do you think these guys are supposed to be doing (and how much do you think they get paid?)? Any ideas, suggestions, or speculation are welcomed in the comments.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Akit

    Does anyone notice the little black boxes with the reflectors on some of the front and rear doors of the Muni buses? I think those things also keep track of passenger numbers without the need for people like in that photo to do census counting.

  • Akit

    Does anyone notice the little black boxes with the reflectors on some of the front and rear doors of the Muni buses? I think those things also keep track of passenger numbers without the need for people like in that photo to do census counting.

  • Xenu

    Looks like it’s time to tell Muni to “check your spendometer.”

  • Xenu

    Looks like it’s time to tell Muni to “check your spendometer.”

  • Fred

    Whatever it is, it appears to be too much. As the sign in the background suggests, Muni needs to check its spendometer.

    More seriously, are these the guys who are supposed to be collecting Muni statistics? I remember seeing Muni personnel jotting down notes on elaborate forms on analog clipboards (usually at Duboce & Church) back when I commuted downtown regularly.

  • Fred

    Whatever it is, it appears to be too much. As the sign in the background suggests, Muni needs to check its spendometer.

    More seriously, are these the guys who are supposed to be collecting Muni statistics? I remember seeing Muni personnel jotting down notes on elaborate forms on analog clipboards (usually at Duboce & Church) back when I commuted downtown regularly.

  • Fred

    Argh. Xenu beat me to it! 🙂

  • Fred

    Argh. Xenu beat me to it! 🙂

  • bloomsm

    You see this kind of waste and wonder how SFMTA has the chutzpah to demand more money from riders for less service, more fees from parkers for less time in a spot, and now, per the SFX, eliminating parking discounts at city garages.

    Somewhere Nero picked up a violin…..

  • bloomsm

    You see this kind of waste and wonder how SFMTA has the chutzpah to demand more money from riders for less service, more fees from parkers for less time in a spot, and now, per the SFX, eliminating parking discounts at city garages.

    Somewhere Nero picked up a violin…..

  • Alex Zepeda

    @Akit yeah, those are the people counters that the MTA used for the TEP data.

    As for what these guys are supposed to be doing, head over to:

    http://www.sfdhr.org/index.aspx?page=32

    And start trying to figure it out. You can find a link to the list of all the civil servant positions at the bottom of the page. As for why you’d want to have people in addition to (or instead of) the automated devices, that’s pretty easy too. The people (for now) collect information beyond ridership (such as headway adherence). Sure, NextBus is collecting that sort of informatio, and, sure according to the Examiner the appropriate union is fighting it… but that’s a relatively recent development.

  • Alex Zepeda

    @Akit yeah, those are the people counters that the MTA used for the TEP data.

    As for what these guys are supposed to be doing, head over to:

    http://www.sfdhr.org/index.aspx?page=32

    And start trying to figure it out. You can find a link to the list of all the civil servant positions at the bottom of the page. As for why you’d want to have people in addition to (or instead of) the automated devices, that’s pretty easy too. The people (for now) collect information beyond ridership (such as headway adherence). Sure, NextBus is collecting that sort of informatio, and, sure according to the Examiner the appropriate union is fighting it… but that’s a relatively recent development.

  • SoSlot

    This could be the start of a wonderful game for San Franciscans to play.

    A type of “What does this City Worker do and how much do they earn doing it?

  • SoSlot

    This could be the start of a wonderful game for San Franciscans to play.

    A type of “What does this City Worker do and how much do they earn doing it?