April 13, 2006
(For Board: April 28, 2006)

 

REPORT OF THE FINANCE-AUDITING COMMITTEE/
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

 

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

Honorable Members:

A meeting of the Finance-Auditing Committee/Committee of the Whole was held in the Board Room, Administration Building, Toll Plaza, San Francisco, California, on Thursday, April 13, 2006, at 11:10 a.m., Acting Chair Pahre presiding.

Committee Members Present (8): Acting Chair Pahre; Directors Boro, Cochran, Eddie, Murray, Reilly and Shahum; President Middlebrook (Ex Officio)
Committee Members Absent (1): Chair Stroeh
Other Directors Present (2): Directors Moylan and Newhouse Segal

Committee of the Whole Members Present (10): Directors Cochran, Eddie, Murray, Newhouse Segal, Pahre, Reilly and Shahum; Second Vice President Boro; First Vice President Moylan; President Middlebrook
Committee of the Whole Members Absent (9): Directors Ammiano, Brown, Dufty, Hernández, Kerns, Martini, McGoldrick, Sandoval and Stroeh

Staff Present: Acting General Manager and 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; Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Teri W. Mantony; Public Affairs Director Mary C. Currie; Budget and Program Analysis Manager Jennifer Mennucci; Executive Assistant to the General Manager Amorette Ko; Assistant Clerk of the Board Patsy Whala

Visitors Present: None

     
1.
Approve Discontinuing the Use of Convenience Tickets as a Method For Bridge Toll Payment and Amend Master Ordinance 2006
     
 

In a memorandum to Committee, Auditor-Controller Joseph Wire and General Manager Celia Kupersmith presented staff’s recommendation to discontinue the sale of truck convenience ticket books effective July 1, 2006, as well as discontinue acceptance of convenience and discount tickets towards payment of bridge tolls effective January 1, 2007.

The report stated that the District currently sells truck convenience ticket books, priced at $2.50 per ticket, which may be applied to the fee per axle for truck tolls. In addition, the District accepts outdated truck convenience tickets priced at $1.50 per ticket and outdated discount “Bridge Handicapped Tickets” priced at $1.50 per ticket towards payment of bridge tolls. Discount “Bridge Handicapped Tickets” were replaced by the current policy, set forth in the Master Ordinance, whereby persons with disabilities pay a discounted bridge toll by cash or by FasTrak™, upon presentation of valid identification.

The report also stated that eliminating the collection of convenience and discount tickets would result in a reduction in printing costs, reconciliation time and overhead to administer these tickets, as well as simplify the toll collection process to operate more efficiently. District staff is preparing a Request for Proposals for the replacement of FasTrak™ toll collection lane hardware and software; therefore, it is timely to consider discontinuing the use of convenience and discount tickets. It is anticipated that new collection screens for the Toll Collectors will be easier to manage once these rarely used ticket options are removed.

The report further stated that staff would inform the public of this policy change with a notice posted at Golden Gate Bridge Toll Office and on the District’s web site. In addition, Toll Collectors would distribute flyers to the customers that use the truck convenience tickets and the discounted “Bridge Handicapped Tickets,” to inform them of the policy change and explain the refund policy. A copy of the report is available in Office the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Joe Wire summarized the staff report and stated that with the advent of FasTrak™, very few of the truck convenience tickets are used. He also stated that discontinuing acceptance of the convenience and discount tickets will be instrumental in simplifying the new lane software in conjunction with the upcoming project of replacing the FasTrak toll collection equipment. He noted that, in January 2006, the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) opted to discontinue the acceptance of scrip tickets, BATA’s version of the District’s truck convenience tickets, to streamline their operations.

Staff recommended and the Committee concurred by motion made and seconded by Directors EDDIE/BORO to forward the following recommendation to the Board of Directors for its consideration:

     
 
RECOMMENDATION
     
 
The Finance-Auditing Committee recommends that the Board of Directors approve the following actions relative to tickets used for Bridge toll payment:
  a. Discontinue the sale of all truck convenience ticket books as of July 1, 2006; and,
  b.
Discontinue acceptance of all convenience and discount tickets towards payment of bridge tolls as of January 1, 2007; with the understanding that the existing refund policy will continue to apply; and,
  c.

Amend Master Ordinance 2006 accordingly.

Action by the Board – Ordinance
NON-CONSENT CALENDAR

     
 
AYES (9):  Directors Cochran, Eddie, Murray, Pahre, Reilly and Shahum; Second Vice President Boro; First Vice President Moylan; President Middlebrook
NOES (0):  None
     
2.
Status Report on the Discontinuance of the Bay Area Toll Charge Card Program
     
 

In a memorandum to Committee, Auditor-Controller Joseph Wire and General Manager Celia Kupersmith provided an informational report regarding the discontinuance of the Golden Gate Bridge toll charge card program. Currently, both the District and State of California, Department of Transportation (Caltrans), operate separate charge card programs for toll payments. The District has been phasing out the program since the inception of FasTrak™; however, due to our reciprocity with Caltrans, the District’s program could not be completely eliminated. The discontinuance would be implemented pursuant to the General Manager’s authority to approve, set terms for credit and terminate credit and credit accounts for any person operating one or more buses or freight-carrying vehicles for toll payments under Section II.C of the Master Ordinance 2006.

The report stated that the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) has recently assumed responsibility from Caltrans for the collection and administration of toll revenues on the seven state-owned bridges. BATA can neither assume the existing charge card program from Caltrans nor establish a new BATA-administered program without statutory authorization. BATA has decided to end the charge card program on the seven state-owned bridges effective April 17, 2006. Consequently, the Golden Gate Bridge program will end on the same day. Motorists attempting to use the charge cards after April 17, 2006, will either be required to pay by cash or, for those without cash, will be sent a toll violation notice. To prepare for the discontinuation of the program, BATA reviewed similar post-paid type programs in the toll industry and found that both on the East Coast and in the Midwest, agencies have eliminated charge card programs due to high administration costs and due to the better convenience and vehicle throughput offered by electronic toll collection.

The report also stated that to implement the discontinuation of the toll charge card program, the FasTrak™ Customer Service Center will be required to provide outreach, website updates and special assistance to customers switching to a FasTrak™ account. Staff estimates that the elimination of the toll charge card program will result in a long-term cost savings due to the reduction in time required to administer the program. In addition, customer savings will also be realized as a result of eliminating the toll charge card program service fees. A copy of the report is available in Office the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

     
 
  • Director Shahum inquired regarding the specifics of the toll charge card program. In response, Mr. Wire explained that with the charge card program, which was developed prior to the implementation of FasTrak™, qualified customers used a charge card for toll payment and were billed at the end of each month.

Action by the Board – None Required

     
3. Public Comment
     
  There was no public comment.
     
4. Adjournment
     
  All business having been concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 11:15 a.m.
     

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Barbara L. Pahre, Acting Chair
Finance-Auditing Committee

 

Attachment: Draft Ordinance No. 2006-03, An Ordinance to Amend Master Ordinance 2006, as Amended, to Discontinue the Use of Convenience Tickets as a Method for Bridge Toll Payment