Agenda Item No. 5

To: Finance-Auditing Committee/Committee of the Whole
Meeting of July 8, 2004

From: Alan R. Zahradnik, Planning Director
Celia G. Kupersmith, General Manager

Subject: AUTHORIZE THE SETTING OF A PUBLIC HEARING RELATIVE TO IMPLEMENTATION OF AN EXTENDED INTER-COUNTY PARATRANSIT SERVICE FARE SURCHARGE

Recommendation

In order to maintain consistency between Marin County local and District inter-county paratransit services and in recognition of the Districts financial conditions, the Finance-Auditing Committee recommends the Board of Directors authorize setting a public hearing on Thursday, August 12, 2004, at 9:30 a.m. in the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza Administration Building Board Room for the purpose of receiving public comment on creation of a Marin extended paratransit service fare surcharge of $0.50, effective October 1, 2004, to be consistent with Marin County Transit District. Following the public hearing, staff would prepare a subsequent staff report and schedule for Finance-Auditing Committee consideration at its September 9, 2004, meeting. Consideration of the extended paratransit service will take place by the Transportation Committee.

This matter will be presented to the Board of Directors at its July 9, 2004, meeting for appropriate action.

Background

In response to the newly adopted Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1991, the District and Marin County Transit District (MCTD) prepared, adopted, and implemented a Joint Paratransit Plan in collaboration with advisory committee and paratransit coordinating council public review and input. As a result of this plan, in 1993, the District and MCTD entered into an Agreement for Inter-county Paratransit Service with MCTD as contractor and Marin Senior Coordinating Council/Whistlestop Wheels (WSW) as provider of the Districts inter-county paratransit service. Similar Agreements have been executed each year through Fiscal Year 2003. The FY 2003 Agreement has been extended while negotiations on a new FY 2004/2005 Agreement continue. Under the Joint Paratransit Plan and subsequent Agreements, both local and inter-county services achieved and maintained compliance with ADA since December 1994.

Throughout the years, both MCTD and the District have consistently determined that the bulk of the paratransit service policies for both services should be the same. MCTD, as the primary and local service provider, opted to provide paratransit service to origins and destinations in the urbanized eastern portion of Marin County beyond the ¾-mile minimum and comparable service hours called for by the ADA. To maintain consistency in implementing its inter-county service, the District followed suit.

Each year both MCTD and the District found that agency budgets needed to be increased substantially to maintain this level of ADA compliance and meet increased demand especially because ADA requires service to be provided with no denials. In FY 2003, to address rising costs, both MCTD and District staffs reviewed the provision of their fixed route bus and corresponding ADA paratransit services. In early FY 2004, WSW advised MCTD it would no longer be able to meet the demand for Marin local trips without an increase in the Marin local budget. Federal law requires that trips required under ADA continue to be provided.

In order to insure ADA compliance in the face of limited resources, in September 2003, MCTD directed WSW to begin differentiating between trip requests required by ADA and trip requests more than ¾-mile or beyond the service hours of the adjoining fixed route bus. MCTD recently increased the Marin local paratransit fare, effective April 1, 2004, from $1.80 to $2.00 for ADA trips, and established a new extended fare ($2.50) for trips that began or ended beyond ¾-mile or comparable service hours of the adjoining non-commute Golden Gate Transit (GGT) bus.

To retain consistency with past practice of operating Marin local and District inter-county paratransit service under comparable policies, and in recognition of the Districts limited transit financial resources, staff proposes that the District bring its inter-county paratransit fare policy in line with MCTD local paratransit fare policy by establishing a $0.50 fare surcharge for extended paratransit trips requests. Staff, therefore, recommends the District conduct a public hearing to consider a Marin extended inter-county paratransit service fare surcharge of $0.50 added to the base fare of any District sponsored paratransit trip that begins or ends beyond ¾-mile of a GGT non-commute bus route or outside of the comparable bus service hours within Marin County. For cost efficiency, staff suggests the hearing precede the August 12, 2004, meeting of the Finance-Auditing Committee. The results of the hearing and a final staff recommendation would be provided to the Finance-Auditing Committee on September 9, 2004. Consideration of the two-tier, ADA, and extended paratransit service will be presented to the Transportation Committee on a parallel timeframe.

Fiscal Impact

The potential fare increase for extended trips could result in approximately $600 in extra revenue to help offset the approximately $100,000 annual extended paratransit service costs.