Meetings

 

November 19, 2004
(For Board: December 17, 2004)

REPORT OF THE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
AND PUBLIC INFORMATION COMMITTEE/
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Honorable Board of Directors
Golden Gate Bridge, Highway
and Transportation District

Honorable Members:

A meeting of the Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee/Committee of the Whole was held in the Board Room, Administration Building, Toll Plaza, San Francisco, California, on Friday, November 19, 2004, at 9:30 a.m., Chair Boro presiding.

Committee Members Present (6): Chair Boro; Vice Chair Martini; Directors Eddie, Harrison, and Reilly; President Smith (Ex Officio).
Chair Boro appointed Director Eddie Committee Member Pro Tem for this meeting only.
Committee Members Absent (3): Directors Brown, Kerns and McGoldrick
Other Members Present (6): Directors Cochran, Hernández, Middlebrook, Pahre, Sandoval and Stroeh

Committee of the Whole Members Present (12): Directors Boro, Cochran, Eddie, Hernández, Martini, Pahre, Reilly, Sandoval and Stroeh; Second Vice President Harrison; First Vice President Middlebrook; President Smith
Committee of the Whole Members Absent (6): Directors Ammiano, Brown, Kerns, McGoldrick, Murray and Shahum

Staff Present: General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith; District Engineer Denis J. Mulligan; Auditor-Controller Joseph M. Wire; Secretary of the District Janet S. Tarantino; Attorney David J. Miller; Deputy General Manager/Bridge Division Kary H. Witt; Deputy General Manager/Bus Division Susan C. Chiaroni; Deputy General Manager/Ferry Division James P. Swindler; Public Affairs Director Mary C. Currie; Marketing and Communications Director Linda J. Mitchell; Planning Director Alan R. Zahradnik; Security and Emergency Management Specialist Lisa Locati; Marketing and Communications Supervisor Kellee Hopper; Executive Assistant to the General Manager Amorette Ko; Assistant Clerk of the Board Karen B. Engbretson

Visitors Present: None

1. Administer Oath of Office to Gerardo Sandoval

Secretary of the District Janet S. Tarantino administered the Oath of Office to Gerardo Sandoval, appointed to the Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District by the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco.

Director Sandoval addressed the Board and expressed his appreciation at the honor of serving on the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors.

2. Status Report on State/Federal Legislation

General Manager Celia Kupersmith reported on the status of the following federal and state legislation:

She stated that she was pleased to announce that the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill is moving forward through both houses of Congress, which is good news for the District. She explained that the WRDA includes language that calls for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to perform a Dredging Study of the Larkspur Ferry Channel, and possibly take on permanent responsibility for the dredging of the channel. She stated that shifting such dredging responsibility to the Corps has been actively pursued by the District since the 1980s, given that the District currently spends approximately $5 million every three years to dredge the channel. If the Corps determines that it would be cost-effective for them to assume dredging responsibility, it would result in tremendous financial savings to the District. She further stated that District Engineer Denis Mulligan and Deputy General Manager/Ferry Division James Swindler will be working closely with the Corps as they prepare the Study, and she promised to keep the Committee posted on the Corps’ progress.

She reported on the status of the Reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), the federal transportation funding bill. She stated that the Reauthorization bill has been set aside during the election, and is not likely to be resurrected until January 2005. She noted that it is hoped the Reauthorization bill will remain unchanged from the September 2004 version of the bill, which included a $10 million appropriation for the Golden Gate Bridge Seismic Retrofit project and an additional allocation of $10 million annually for the Seismic Retrofit project for each year of the six year bill.

Action by the Board – None Required

 

 

 

3. Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Interior Advertising on Golden Gate Ferry Vessels

In a memorandum to Committee, Marketing and Communications Director Linda Mitchell, Deputy General Manager/Ferry Division James Swindler; Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Teri Mantony and General Manager Celia Kupersmith provided a report outlining a proposed interior ferry advertising program. The report stated that as part of the District’s ongoing search for innovative revenue generation measures, staff has been researching the concept of interior ferry advertising. The District has been approached by two advertising companies that specialize in transit advertising, including Viacom Outdoor, Inc., which is currently under contract with the District for ads on buses, bus shelters and ferry terminal kiosks. The report also stated that staff is seeking direction from the Committee regarding staff’s proposal to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to generate the highest possible revenue for this type of program. The report noted that staff understands that any such interior ferry advertising would need to be tastefully done to avoid overexposure of advertising on the ferries. Attached to the report was a chart listing areas on the ferries that could potentially be available as advertising space. The content of the advertising would be subject to the same restrictions as with other District advertising programs, and the District would approve all advertising prior to display. The report further stated that based on the number of ad spaces proposed, staff estimates that $88,000 per year in new revenue could be generated from interior ferry advertising. A copy of the report, with attachment, is available in the Office of the Secretary of the District.

At the meeting, Celia Kupersmith summarized staff’s recommendation, emphasizing that no full boat advertising wraps would be contemplated. She noted that it is quite common in the ferry industry to place advertising on the inside of ferry vessels.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

Chair Boro suggested that staff provide the Committee with graphical examples of how the advertising might appear in the specific locations listed in the staff report. In addition, he requested that Mr. Swindler describe his experience with the industry practice nationwide relative to interior ferry advertising.

Staff recommended, and the Committee concurred by motion made and seconded by Directors MARTINI/SMITH to forward the following recommendation to the Board of Directors for its consideration.
RECOMMENDATION

The Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee recommends that the Board of Directors approve interior advertising onboard Golden Gate Ferries; and, authorize staff to advertise a Request for Proposals for interior ferry advertising, with the understanding that staff would report back to the Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee with additional information regarding interior ferry advertising by other ferry operators, as well as graphical examples of how such advertising would appear on Golden Gate Ferry vessels.

Action by the Board – Resolution
NON-CONSENT CALENDAR
AYES (12): Directors Boro, Cochran, Eddie, Hernández, Martini, Pahre, Reilly, Sandoval and Stroeh; Second Vice President Harrison; First Vice President Middlebrook; President Smith
NOES (0): None

4. Status Report on Activities Related to the District’s Website and Online Store

In a memorandum to Committee, Marketing and Communications Director Linda Mitchell, Procurement and Retail Operations Manager Lori Murray; Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Teri Mantony and General Manager Celia Kupersmith provided an informational report regarding the District’s website and online store. The report stated that over the past two years, the District’s website has grown dramatically, from an average of 1.1 million monthly hits in 2002 to approximately 5.1 million hits in September 2004. The website is accessed frequently for transit schedules and route updates, as well as press releases, Bridge data and administrative information such as job openings, contract opportunities and meeting schedules.

The report described recent enhancements made to the District’s website at www.goldengate.org, as follows:

Home Page and News Pages – These pages were redesigned to more prominently feature the latest news items and Bridge, bus and ferry information.

Online Bus Schedules – The latest Golden Gate Transit (GGT) bus schedules are available on the website, and are updated electronically from GGT’s computerized scheduling program.

Board of Directors Section – This newly created section includes information on the members of the Board of Directors, as well as Board and Committee meeting calendars, agendas, staff reports and minutes.

Multi-Lingual Section – In order to better communicate with non-English speaking transit customers and internet users from around the world, key sections of the website have been translated into eight languages (Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese-Simplified and Chinese-Traditional).

The report also provided an update on the success of the Online Store, which was launched in July 2003 to take advantage of website’s growing popularity. The Online Store is prominently located on the home page and serves as an online source for purchasing Ride Value Discount Ticket Books and select merchandise items from the Golden Gate Bridge Gift Center, leveraging the Golden Gate Bridge’ s brand value to sell clothing and merchandise. The report noted that since July 2003, the Online Store has generated $153,215 in sales, with $2,320 in average weekly sales. The report stated that 83% of online sales are transit ticket books. Of the merchandise sold online, the most frequent items sold are Golden Gate Bridge commemorative ornaments, collectible Bridge rivets and historic Bridge bonds.

The report stated that technical costs associated with maintaining the website and the Online Store have been greatly reduced, with District staff now responsible for managing, editing and uploading information, thereby saving the costs of an outside website programmer. A copy of the report is available in the Office of the District Secretary.

At the meeting, Marketing and Communications Supervisor Kellee Hopper summarized the staff report noting that the Board of Directors section became live on November 19, 2004. Ms. Hopper stated that she had worked closely with staff in the Office of the District Secretary over the past several months on this project, which will allow the District to have an online archive of past meeting materials, providing greater accessibility to agendas, staff reports and minutes for Board members, District employees and the public. Ms. Hopper elaborated that the Board of Directors section also includes detailed biographies and photographs of Board members.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

Celia Kupersmith stated that Ms. Hopper has done a phenomenal job balancing the various aspects of the District’s website: the practical content of transit schedules and meeting information, as well as the historic facts and memorabilia associated with the iconic, internationally recognized Golden Gate Bridge.

Chair Boro commended Kellee Hopper for her excellent work on the District’s website.
Action by the Board – None Required

5. Status Report from the Board Appointee on the San Francisco Bay Area Water Transit Authority (WTA)

Chair Boro, the San Francisco Bay Area Water Transit Authority (WTA) Board Appointee, provided a status report on recent activities of the WTA. The agendas for the October 28, 2004, and September 23, 2004, meetings were furnished to the Committee. Copies are available in the Office of the District Secretary.

Chair Boro stated that over the past several months, WTA staff has been working to continue the delivery of funded ferry routes and improve the operations of the overall ferry system. He described the status of new routes and service, as follows:

South San Francisco – The City of South San Francisco will be the first municipality to launch a new WTA ferry route, anticipated to begin service in early 2008. The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this route is currently in the scoping phase, with public meetings scheduled for November and December 2004.

Redwood City – City officials are working with the WTA to collect data to determine the origins of commuters to Redwood City, in order to forecast ridership and predict fare revenues for this route.

Alameda – The WTA is continuing discussions with the City of Alameda over the WTA’ s possible role in operating the Alameda ferry service. The WTA has met with City staff and the Alameda Point developer regarding the conversion and development of the former U.S. Navy base at Alameda Point, which has the potential for expanded ferry service.

Berkeley – A joint meeting of Berkeley’s Waterfront and Transportation Commissions was held on November 6, 2004 to discuss potential ferry service and the preparation of an EIR in 2005. It is anticipated that ferry terminal and vessel design for Berkeley ferry service would begin in 2007.

Hercules – The WTA presented a conceptual analysis of ferry terminals to the Hercules City Council in October, and City officials are eager to continue progress on a financing plan to implement ferry service from Hercules.

Treasure Island – In October, The WTA met with the Treasure Island Development Authority and San Francisco city officials to discuss ferry service to Treasure Island, anticipated to begin in 2008.

Port Sonoma – While there has been no current activity, environmental studies for Port Sonoma are on the WTA’s priority list. Chair Boro stated that in his opinion, a minimalist approach should be used when designing a ferry terminal for Port Sonoma, in light of the environmental sensitivity of the site. He described how precisely timed feeder buses are successfully used to transport commuters to rail stations for the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE Train), and how such feeder buses would be the most practical way to transport ferry riders to Port Sonoma.

Chair Boro reported that the Marine Engineer has been updating WTA’s vessel specifications in light of environmental restrictions and clean emission goals, with the anticipation of requesting proposals for vessel construction by the end of 2004. He noted that it is likely that WTA ferry vessels will be high-speed ferries, smaller in size than those in the Golden Gate Ferry fleet.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

Director Harrison inquired as to whether Golden Gate Ferry could expand service into any of the communities on WTA’s project list. In response, Chair Boro stated that with the exception of Port Sonoma, the communities on WTA’s project list are all outside of the District’s service area.

Action by the Board – None Required

6. Public Comment

There was no public comment.

 

7. Adjournment

All business having been concluded, the meeting was declared adjourned at 9:50 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Albert J. Boro, Chair
Governmental Affairs and
Public Information Committee

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