REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS

PUBLIC HEARING

A PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH A FIVE-YEAR FARE PROGRAM
TO INCREASE BUS, FERRY AND PARATRANSIT FARES

MARCH 8, 2006

BOARD ROOM, ADMINISTRATION BUILDING
TOLL PLAZA, SAN FRANCISCO, CA

The Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (District) held a public hearing in the Board Room, Administration Building, Toll Plaza, San Francisco, California, on Wednesday, March 8, 2006, at 6:00 p.m., for the purpose of receiving public comment on a proposal to establish a Five-Year Fare Program to increase bus, ferry and paratransit fares.

Directors Present (7): Directors Cochran, Eddie, Newhouse Segal, Reilly and Shahum; Second Vice President Boro; First Vice President Moylan

Directors Absent (12): Directors Ammiano, Brown, Dufty, Hernández, Kerns, Martini, McGoldrick, Murray, Pahre, Sandoval and Stroeh; President Middlebrook

Staff Present: General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith; Auditor-Controller Joseph M. Wire; Secretary of the District Janet S. Tarantino; Attorney Allison Schutte; Deputy General Manager/Bus Division Susan C. Chiaroni; Deputy General Manager/Ferry Division James P. Swindler; Planning Director Alan Zahradnik; Customer Relations Supervisor Helen Haas; Customer Service Representative Glen Woods (Spanish Translator)

Visitors Present: David Schonbrunn, TRANSDEF; David Heilbrun, Larkspur Resident; Nina Rannells, Transit Rider

     
1.

Purpose of Public Hearing

     
 
The public hearing was conducted by Acting President Moylan and he announced that the purpose of this public hearing is to receive public comment relative to a proposal to establish a Five-Year Fare Program to increase bus, ferry and paratransit fares.
     
2. Public Outreach
     
 

District Secretary Janet Tarantino reported that in compliance with District policy, notices were mailed to organizations and individuals on the District’s mailing list and copies were posted in various locations on District properties. Also, in compliance with Resolution No. 2006 005, adopted on January 13, 2006, legal notices of this Public Hearing were published in the Marin Independent Journal, during the period of January 24, 2006 to January 31, 2006. The following additional public outreach was also undertaken:

  • A press release on the public hearing was issued on February 1, 8 and 13, 2006, and March 1, 2006, resulting in articles being published in several local newspapers in the District's service area;
  • Display ads were placed in the San Francisco Chronicle, Marin Independent Journal, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Commuter Times, Bay Crossings, Novato Advance, San Francisco Downtown Magazine and La Voz (Spanish-language newspaper), during the period of January 19, 2006 to February 3, 2006; and, additional ads will be placed during the period of February 23, 2006 to March 8, 2006;
  • The notice and staff reports were posted on the District’s web site and on www.511.org;
  • E-mail updates were sent to subscribers on January 30, 2006, February 13, 2006, and March 5, 2006;
  • Posters in English and Spanish were placed on Golden Gate Transit buses and ferries, at bus stops and at ferry terminals;
  • The District’s Bus Passenger Advisory Committee, Ferry Passenger Advisory Committee and Advisory Committee on Accessibility were provided a notice of the public hearing at their meetings in February 2006;
  • Seat drop notices were placed on buses and ferries on February 6, 2006, and on February 27, 2006; and,
  • Notices were sent to Hispanic Community Groups and Centers in February 2006.

The Attorney for the District confirmed that the above-described public outreach met the legal requirements for calling a public hearing.

     
3. Staff Presentation
     
 

General Manager Celia Kupersmith called upon Planning Director Alan Zahradnik to provide the staff presentation.

Mr. Zahradnik summarized the public hearing staff report (a copy of which is available in the District Secretary’s office and on the District’s web site), outlining the proposal to establish a Five-Year Fare Program to increase bus, ferry and paratransit fares, effective July 1, 2006 through July 1, 2010. The Board of Directors, by Resolution No. 2006-005 at its meeting of January 13, 2006, approved setting a public hearing for the purpose of receiving public testimony on the proposal. He stated that staff has developed a new transit fare program as a successor to the Five-Year Fare Program adopted in 1998. The objectives of the proposed fare program include increasing fare recovery as a means of continuing transit services with an appropriate level of passenger support and increasing transit fares as needed to achieve a $9 million revenue generation target to help address a projected $79 million five-year District financial shortfall. Mr. Zahradnik stated that the proposed Five-Year Fare Program would consist of annual 5% increases to fares for regional bus, ferry and complementary paratransit services, applied over a five-year period, beginning July 1, 2006. Mr. Zahradnik also stated that staff will perform an annual review, concurrent with District budget development process, to determine if adjustments to the Five-Year Fare Program are necessary. He noted that exceptions to the Five-Year Fare Program include the special event bus and ferry service fares, local Marin bus fares set by Marin County Transit District and other service-related fares subject to separate financial performance objectives. Mr. Zahradnik further stated that the proposed fare increases contained in the Five-Year Fare Program are necessary to generate revenues necessary to meet projected operating expenses of District transit services.

     
4. Public Comments
     
 
Acting President Moylan then opened the hearing to receive public comment, noting that all comments will be entered into the record.  He stated that cards are available for those who desire to speak on the subject and that each person will be given three minutes to express their concerns.
     
  a. Written Comments
     
   

Ms. Tarantino reported that eighteen (18) public comments had been received prior to the public hearing, and that these communications had been received by e-mail.

She summarized the comments, as follows:

  1. No comments expressed support.
  2. Thirteen comments expressed opposition.
  3. Three comments expressed dissatisfaction with the scheduled times of the public hearings.
  4. Two general comments were received: one comment suggested changes relative to the scheduling of Golden Gate Transit Route 27, and the other comment requested that more consideration be given to the comfort of commuters traveling long distances between Sonoma County and San Francisco.
     
  b. Oral Comments
     
   

David Schonbrunn expressed his concerns regarding the proposed increase in fares and suggested that the District should document its increases in transit costs by line item in order to provide justification for the proposed Five-Year Fare Program. He also stated that the District should consider eliminating the FasTrak toll discount as a means of revenue generation. He further stated that in his opinion, Golden Gate Bridge users should pay for part of the cost of rebuilding Doyle Drive, since it is the southern approach to the Bridge.

In response to Mr. Schonbrunn, Director Shahum stated that an advisory committee to the Board of Directors is currently reviewing strategies for potential revenue increases, including a reconsideration of the FasTrak toll discount. She requested that a status report from the Strategic Plan for Long-Term Financial Stability Advisory Committee be provided at a future meeting of the Board of Directors.

     
5. Closing Remarks
     
 
Acting President Moylan stated that staff would summarize all public comments received and would present a final recommendation relative to the proposal presented at this public hearing to the Finance-Auditing Committee at its regularly scheduled meeting on March 23, 2006.  She further reported that if action is taken by the Finance-Auditing Committee on March 23, 2006, the item would be presented to the full Board of Directors on Friday, March 24, 2006, for its consideration.  Both of these meetings will be held in the Board Room, Administration Building, Toll Plaza, San Francisco, California.
     
6. Conclusion
     
  All business having been concluded, the public hearing was closed at 6:15 p.m.
     

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Janet S. Tarantino
Secretary of the District