August 5, 2005

(For Board:  August 12, 2005)

REPORT OF THE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE

 

Honorable Board of Directors

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway

  and Transportation District

Honorable Members:

A meeting of the Transportation Committee was held in the Supervisors Chambers, County of Sonoma Administration Center, Santa Rosa, California, on Friday, August 5, 2005, at 10:00 a.m., Chair Brown presiding.

 

Committee Members Present (7): Chair Brown; Directors Boro, Eddie, Moylan, Murray, Pahre and Stroeh.  Chair Brown appointed Directors Boro, Eddie and Stroeh Committee Members Pro Tem for this meeting only.

 

Committee Members Absent (4): Vice Chair Shahum; Directors Cochran and Kerns; President Middlebrook (Ex Officio)

 

Staff Present: Acting General Manager and District Engineer Denis J. Mulligan; Secretary of the District Janet S. Tarantino; Attorney Patrick T. Miyaki; Deputy General Manager/Bridge Division Kary H. Witt; Deputy General Manager/Bus Division Susan C. Chiaroni; Deputy General Manager/Ferry Division James P. Swindler; Deputy General Manager/Administration Teri W. Mantony; Public Affairs Director Mary C. Currie; Planning Director Alan R. Zahradnik; Acting Auditor-Controller and Budget and Program Analysis Manager Jennifer Mennucci; Information Systems Project Manager Bruce Orcutt; Assistant Clerk of the Board Karen B. Engbretson

Visitors Present: Anthony R. Withington, President, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local No. 1575; John Nemeth, Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District; Carney J. Campion and Dale Luehring, former General Managers

1.

Report of the District Advisory Committees

  a.   Advisory Committee on Accessibility (ACA)

The agenda for the July 13, 2005, joint working meeting of the Advisory Committee on Accessibility (ACA) and the Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee, as well as the agenda for the July 21, 2005, meeting of ACA and the minutes of the May 19, 2005, meeting of ACA, were furnished to the Transportation Committee.  Copies are available in the Office of the Secretary of the District, as well as on the District’s web site.

   
  b.  Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee

The agenda for the July 6, 2005, meeting of the Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee (FPAC), as well as the agenda for the July 13, 2005 joint working meeting of ACA and FPAC, and the minutes of the June 1, 2005, meeting of FPAC, were furnished to the Transportation Committee.  Copies are available in the Office of the District Secretary, as well as on the District’s web site.

Action by the Board – None Required

   
2. General Update on the HASTUS Program
   
 

Acting General Manager Denis Mulligan presented a staff report which provided a general update on the HASTUS scheduling software. HASTUS is a comprehensive set of tools for service design, operations and tracking that is used by the District’s Bus Division to efficiently schedule bus runs and Bus Operators’ work shifts for Golden Gate Transit (GGT) operations. The report stated that the Board of Directors, by Resolution No. 97-159, at its meeting of June 13, 1997, authorized award of Contract No. 97-BT-8, Purchase, Delivery, Installation and Support of Software Program for Golden Gate Transit Fixed Route Bus Scheduling System, to GIRO, Inc., of Montreal, Canada, for the purchase of the HASTUS scheduling system software.  Subsequently, the Board of Directors, by Resolution No. 99-252, at its meeting of December 17, 1999, authorized the purchase of automated dispatch, timekeeping and ridership analysis modules of the HASTUS system, as well as the purchase of upgrades for the original scheduling software.  The report also stated that the District contracts annually with GIRO, Inc., for maintenance and support services for all HASTUS products used by the District.  Over the past seven years of use, HASTUS has provided sophisticated computerized functions to streamline District operations, while increasing the variety and responsiveness of our service to the public.

The report described in detail each of the HASTUS modules used for GGT operations, as follows:

  • HASTUS-Vehicle and MinbusA graphical scheduler designed to build efficient timetables and vehicle schedules for bus and other fixed-route services that allows for multiple scenarios to be stored for different periods of the year or days of the week;
  • HASTUS-Crew and Supermicro – Optimizes the allocation of vehicle work designed by HASTUS-Vehicle above and assembles data into days of work (Runs) in conformance with District requirements and applicable Memoranda of Understanding between the District and union-represented employees;
  • HASTUS-Roster and RosterPlus – Assists in the flexible structuring of Run assignments, producing Run Books to assign work to individual Bus Operators based on daily, weekly or signup length service periods;
  • HASTUS-DDAM – Facilitates the day-to-day management of transit operations by tracking Bus Operator availability and matching to unassigned work; providing real-time tracking for hours worked, vacation, sick leave, and extra-board lists, as well as an accurate source of Bus Operator timekeeping and payroll data;
  • GEO – Manages and stores the geographical locations and relationships within our transit service area including itineraries, street detail, stop coordinates, landmarks, etc.; and,
  • HASTUS-Rider – Stores ridership data collected from Traffic Checkers and facilitates the analysis of demand curves based on route and time-of-day.

A copy of the staff report, including handouts provided by Mr. Orcutt at the meeting, is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Susan Chiaroni introduced to the Committee, Bruce Orcutt, who has been the project manager for HASTUS since its inception in 1997.  Ms. Chiaroni stated that at a future meeting of the Committee, staff would be presenting a recommendation to purchase the latest version of the HASTUS software, which was last upgraded in 2000.   Mr. Orcutt provided an overview of HASTUS, describing the system as a relational database that is useful in modeling the reality of bus operations.  He stated that the scheduling and dispatch modules regulate how many GGT buses should be sent out for service and allocates work for Bus Operators on daily basis.  He noted that all operational data is recorded electronically for a variety of purposes, and provided a chart depicting the various computer systems to which HASTUS feeds data, including the Golden Gate Bus & Ferry Transit Guide, the District’s web site, the payroll and human resources elements of the Financial Management Information System (FMIS) and TRANSTAT, the District’s transit statistics and performance reporting system.  Since this electronic data transfer process is automatic, it obviates the need for manual data collection by different departments for separate uses.  The chart also showed several other data systems to which HASTUS would feed data that are currently in development, such as the FMIS vehicle maintenance system and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s 511 transit information service.  Mr. Orcutt also provided a handout listing over 40 transit agencies nationwide that use HASTUS.  He noted that the use of HASTUS to produce the Run Book resulted in annual savings to the District of $782,000 in the first year of HASTUS operation, which compares favorably with the total project costs of $900,000 for the years 1997 through 2005.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

  • Director Boro inquired as to whether the $782,000 of savings attributed to HASTUS is ongoing.  In response, Mr. Orcutt explained that while it is difficult to attribute ongoing savings to a new system that eliminates manual processes, HASTUS has resulted in new types of efficiencies.  Mr. Orcutt provided the example of how HASTUS has allowed Planning Department staff to model possibilities for service changes and determine the operational costs of each scenario.  In addition, the Scheduling Department can produce different scheduling scenarios with reduced staff in a fraction of the time it took to produce these scenarios manually.

Action by the Board – None Required

   
3. General Update on Bus and Ferry Service Ridership Trends
   
 

Director of Planning Alan Zahradnik provided a general update on Golden Gate Transit (GGT) bus and ferry service ridership trends.  Mr. Zahradnik proceeded with a PowerPoint presentation, with the following main topics of discussion:

    • GGT Bus Ridership Trend
    • GGT Ferry Ridership Trend
    • Future Travel Trends

 

Mr. Zahradnik stated that in FY 04/05, GGT bus and ferry service began to stabilize following significant changes that were made to the District’s bus and ferry service during the previous two fiscal years.  He displayed several pie charts depicting the distribution of ridership for both GGT regional bus service and local Marin bus service, a graphical summary of bus ridership trends over the past three fiscal years, as well as historical trends for transit ridership in Marin and Sonoma counties.  He stated that overall GGT bus ridership for FY 04/05 was 7,540,000 passengers, a 5% reduction in ridership from the previous fiscal year.  Of that total, 55.9% were local Marin riders, a growing trend over the past several years, in which local Marin patronage represents the majority of GGT ridership. 

In his presentation, he noted that in November 2004, the District and Marin County Transit District (MCTD) entered into a new contractual relationship that gave MCTD direct responsibility for 20 local GGT bus routes.  During the past seven months of this Agreement for Marin Local Service with MCTD, 30% of all GGT passengers were riders on the 20 local bus routes managed by MCTD and 70% were passengers on 36 regional GGT routes.  Mr. Zahradnik pointed out that five of those 36 regional routes are “transition routes,” for which MCTD will assume responsibility in May 1, 2006, if the contractual relationship is renewed.  At that time, approximately 1,000,000 passengers will become riders of MCTD-managed routes, effectively bringing the MTCD share of GGT passengers closer to 50%.

He noted that in the aftermath of the Phase I and Phase II bus service reductions in 2003, GGT experienced a decline in regional ridership that resembled the steady downward trend in regional ridership that had been experienced over the prior three fiscal years.  He also stated that Marin local ridership has responded more positively to the service reductions, with a steady rebound in ridership each year.  In a chart depicting the historical trend of transit ridership in Marin County, Mr. Zahradnik noted that during the 1970s and 1980s, transit ridership to and from San Francisco continued to increase significantly each year until the mid- to late-1980s, when ridership dropped considerably due to an economic recession.  He noted that Marin-to-San Francisco commute ridership has been in a general decline since 1984.  In a chart showing historical trends for Sonoma County ridership, Mr. Zahradnik noted that transbay bus ridership trends from Sonoma County resemble that of Marin County.  Local ridership on buses within Sonoma County showed a steady increase up until 1985, when Sonoma County Transit began local service, supplanting GGT service in the area.  He noted that Sonoma-to-Marin ridership increased significantly in 1991, when new service was added, remained steady and then began declining with the recession and after the 2003 service reductions.

Mr. Zahradnik described ferry ridership trends over the past several years, noting that in the past fiscal year, ferry ridership is trending upward and recovering from the recent recession.  In his presentation, he displayed a pie chart depicting the distribution of ferry ridership, noting that 71% use Larkspur service, 24% use Sausalito service, and 5% use the SBC special event ferry service.  He stated that the July 2004 Larkspur ferry service changes, which included the successful introduction of two high-speed ferry vessels in weekday commute service, did not have a significant effect on ridership, although some ferry customers expressed dissatisfaction at the time of the changes.  

He also displayed several line charts depicting monthly and yearly average ridership for both Larkspur and Sausalito ferry service during weekdays and weekends, noting that there has been a slight decline in Larkspur weekend ridership and a slight increase in Sausalito weekend ridership.  He noted that the increase in Sausalito weekend ridership is partially attributed to the attractions at the renovated San Francisco Ferry Building, with its farmers’ market, shops and restaurants.  He displayed a chart comparing the historical trends of Golden Gate Bridge traffic, GGT bus and GGT ferry service from 1975 to 2005, noting that GGT bus and GGT ferry total combined transbay commute market share has remained steady, despite declining ridership.

In conclusion, Mr. Zahradnik stated that looking ahead 10 years; employment growth is expected to keep pace with the size of the work force in both Marin and Sonoma counties.  However, Marin County will continue to import workers from other counties while Sonoma County will continue to export workers to jobs in other counties.  He stated that the Marin’s aging population will tend to travel closer to home, resulting in increased local ridership and reduced transbay ridership.  In addition, suburb-to-suburb travel patterns will continue, resulting in increased travel between Marin and Sonoma counties.  In San Francisco, most job growth will be focused in the areas south of downtown, such as the Mission Bay area, which due to commute distances will attract workers from the East Bay and Peninsula, rather than from the North Bay.  With relatively modest population and employment growth projected in GGT’s travel corridor, growth in regional transit ridership will most likely occur as a result of mode shift from car to bus or ferry.  He further noted that since mode shifts are driven by choice, GGT must have a competitive advantage through pricing strategies and by maintaining high quality bus and ferry service for the District’s transit customers.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

  • Director Murray made the following inquiries, comments and suggestions:
      • She provided an example of a private school in Petaluma that launched its own bus service when the GGT bus route used by its students was eliminated.  She suggested that GGT staff keep current with business development trends in Marin County, specifically situations in which employers with large employee bases in Marin County are considering moving out of the county, as a possible new market for GGT service.  In response, Mr. Zahradnik stated that staff would make every effort to seek out such opportunities and provided the example of LucasFilm, Ltd., which recently consolidated its Marin County offices to the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the San Francisco Presidio, to which approximately 1,200 employees are commuting from Marin County.
      • She inquired as to how much regional GGT patronage has declined over the past fiscal year.  In response, Mr. Zahradnik noted that ridership is down 10%, which is close to what had been projected.
      • She inquired as to whether the District receives additional revenue from special event ferry service.  In response, Mr. Zahradnik stated that such service often receives more revenue than the amount necessary to break-even, and that in such cases, any additional revenue is used to subsidize regular ferry service.
      • She inquired as to why ferry patronage fluctuates so noticeably.  In response, Mr. Zahradnik explained that ferry ridership is very seasonal in nature, with weather conditions and tourism significant factors in ridership.  He noted that casual riders make up the bulk of the Sausalito ferry market, and that limited parking is a restraint on Sausalito ferry ridership.
      • She suggested that staff seek data from other sources in addition to the Association for Bay Area Governments (ABAG), particularly when tracking employment trends and the location of job centers in the Bay Area.
      • She suggested that staff develop strategies to attract more ridership from the senior, student and Latino populations in Marin County.
      • She suggested that staff consider other factors in projecting transit trends, such as:  (1) the addition of new High Occupancy Vehicle carpool lanes in Marin County; (2) the increasing cost of gasoline; (3) increased tourism; and, (4) development of a new transit hub in Novato.
      • She suggested that staff consider exploring additional transit markets, such as:  (1) a new travel corridor from the Napa County-American Canyon area to Marin County; (2) possible special event service to Infineon Raceway; and, (3) how GGT service would be affected by possible future Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District (SMART) commuter rail service.
      • She suggested that staff seek additional opportunities to provide special event service to subsidize regular service.
      • She suggested that staff profile the types of transit riders that utilize GGT bus and ferry service.
  • Chair Brown stated that staff should also consider the affect on GGT ridership if SMART) commuter rail service is not implemented.

Action by the Board – None Required

   
4. Monthly Report on Activities Related to Marin Local Service Contract with Marin County Transit District
   
 

The monthly report on activities related to the 18-month Marin Local Service contract with the Marin County Transit District (MCTD) was furnished to the Transportation Committee.  The report included several elements, including the following:

  • A spreadsheet from the Auditor-Controller outlining the history of payments made to date by MCTD to the District for intra-county bus transit services in Marin County, as well as for the Ride and Roll Program;
  • A spreadsheet from the Planning Department outlining GGT bus service performance of both District regional routes and MCTD local routes, providing statistics regarding riders per hour, revenue per hour, cost per hour, fare recovery and deficit per passenger for the two types of bus service, for the months of February 2005 through May 2005;
  • Agendas of the July 28, 2005, and July 7, 2005, meetings; and, the minutes of July 7, 2005, and June 23, 2005, meetings of the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM);
  • Agenda of the July 13, 2005, meeting of the TAM Executive Committee; and,
  • Agenda of the June 28, 2005, meeting of the MCTD Board of Directors.

Copies of the payment history and bus service performance spreadsheets, as well as the agendas and minutes noted above, are available in the Office of the District Secretary.

At the meeting, Denis Mulligan noted that at the August 12, 2005, meeting of the Finance-Auditing Committee, staff will present two recommendations related to recent actions by the MCTD: (1) to increase the youth discount from 25% to 50% for local Marin travel on GGT bus routes; and, (2) to amend the Agreement for Marin Local Service between the District and MCTD regarding local bus Routes 117, 123, 127 and 132.

Action by the Board – None Required

   
5. Public Comment
   
  There was no public comment.
   
6. Adjournment
   
  All business having been concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 11:05 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

/s/Harold C. Brown, Jr., Chair

Transportation Committee