August 4, 2006
(For Board: August 25, 2006)

 

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 4, 2006, at 10:00 a.m., Acting Chair Kerns presiding.

Committee Members Present (7): Acting Chair Kerns; Directors Boro, Eddie, Martini, Sandoval and Stroeh; President Middlebrook (Ex Officio). Acting Chair Kerns appointed Directors Boro, Eddie, Martini, Sandoval and Stroeh Committee Members Pro Tem for this meeting only.

Committee Members Absent (6): Chair Brown; Directors Cochran, Moylan, Murray, Newhouse Segal and Pahre

Staff Present: General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith; District Engineer Denis J. Mulligan; Secretary of the District Janet S. Tarantino; Attorney Madeline Chun; Deputy General Manager/Bridge Division Kary H. Witt; Deputy General Manager/Bus Division Susan C. Chiaroni; Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Teri W. Mantony; Public Affairs Director Mary C. Currie; Acting Auditor-Controller and Budget and Program Analysis Manager Jennifer Mennucci; Terminal Superintendent Rebecca Wessling; Executive Assistant to the General Manager Amorette Ko; Assistant Clerk of the Board Karen B. Engbretson

Visitors Present: Anthony R. Withington, President, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local No. 1575; Tim Smith, Mayor of Rohnert Park; 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 20, 2006, meeting of the Advisory Committee on Accessibility (ACA), and the minutes of the June 15, 2005, meeting of ACA, were furnished to the Transportation Committee.  Copies are available in the Office of the Secretary of the District and on the District’s web site.
     
  b. Bus Passengers Advisory Committee
     
   
There was no meeting of the Bus Passengers Advisory Committee in July 2006; therefore, no meeting materials were furnished to the Transportation Committee.
     
  c. Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee
     
   

The agenda for the July 12, 2006, meeting of the Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee (FPAC), and the minutes of the May 3, 2006, meeting of FPAC, were furnished to the Transportation Committee. Copies are available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

Action by the Board – None Required

     
2. Update on Golden Gate Bridge Operations and Maintenance
     
 

Deputy General Manager/Bridge Division Kary H. Witt provided an update on Golden Gate Bridge operations and maintenance, presenting a PowerPoint presentation to the Committee depicting several detailed photographs of current maintenance projects, as well as of day-to-day Bridge operations. Mr. Witt began his PowerPoint presentation by displaying a list of current and former Sonoma County Directors, noting that Sonoma County Directors Joseph A. McMinn and Frank P. Doyle held instrumental roles in the formation of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.

Mr. Witt provided an overview of the Bridge Division, comprised of 200 employees, which employees are responsible for operations and maintenance of the Golden Gate Bridge (Bridge) and its surrounding facilities. He described the following aspects of Bridge operations, which were depicted in various photographs:

 
  • Toll Collection;
  • Bridge Tow Service;
  • Lane Configuration;
  • Bridge Security; and,
  • Special Events on the Bridge.
     
 
Mr. Witt further described the Bridge maintenance program, which prioritizes projects based on detailed data regarding the condition of approximately 10,000 Bridge components.  He noted that between 2001 and 2004, 337 Bridge components needing attention were improved to serviceable condition.  Mr. Witt provided examples of some of the significant maintenance projects, which were depicted in various photographs:
 
  • Suspender rope sockets and hanger brackets restored and/or repaired;
  • Floor beams restored and painted;
  • Roadway expansion joints and sidewalk joints repaired;
  • Lacing bars and other structural steel components replaced and painted;
  • Rivets removed and replaced by high-strength steel bolts;
  • North Approach Viaduct towers top coat painted;
  • Suspender ropes cleaned and painted; and,
  • On-going maintenance of Bridge facilities and buildings.
     
 
He noted that Bridge maintenance staff has been working with industry peers to develop new and more efficient methods to accomplish the work.  He also described some of the research and development that Bridge maintenance staff has pursued, including the following:
 
  • Testing of new technology in automatic suspender rope cleaning and painting;
  • Testing new types of coating systems for the Bridge structure and participating in coatings research at a national level; and,
  • Using ultra high-pressure water jet systems rather than traditional sand-blasting methods for paint removal and surface preparation. 
     
 

In conclusion, Mr. Witt stated that maintenance of the Golden Gate Bridge is crucial to preserve a structure that has reached an age of 69 years.  He commended the members of the Bridge Management Team, and especially the men and women who are responsible for the day-to-day maintenance work on the Bridge, sometimes at great heights and in extreme weather conditions.  A copy of the PowerPoint presentation is available in the Office of the District Secretary.

Discussion ensued, including the following:
     
 
  • Director Martini made the following comments and inquiries:
    • He expressed his appreciation to all the District employees who worked behind the scenes to prepare the Bridge for the San Francisco Marathon, a recent special event held on July 30, 2006. He noted that some of the photographs taken of the Marathon runners crossing the Bridge will be used to promote San Francisco’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics.
    • He inquired as to what the Bridge would look like if it were built today. In response, Denis Mulligan stated that such a Bridge would likely be another suspension bridge, but with concrete towers and a steel plated roadbed structure rather than one braced with trusses.
     
 
  • President Middlebrook and Director Boro inquired regarding certain Bridge security components, and Mr. Witt stated that such a discussion would be more appropriate to be held in a closed session.  Celia Kupersmith stated that a comprehensive discussion and update on Bridge security would be held at a future meeting of the Board of Directors.
     
 
  • Director Sandoval made the following inquiries:
    • He inquired as to the environmental advantages of using an ultra high-pressure water jet system. In response, Mr. Witt stated that such a system uses fine droplets of water at 40,000 pounds per square inch pressure, and that the waste water can be captured and disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner. Mr. Witt further stated that paint removal and surface preparation would require just a small amount of ultra high-pressure water compared with the enormous quantity of abrasive material required to perform the same work, and that a system of this type would increase productivity by reducing the amount of time it takes to paint the structural components.
    • He inquired as to the life span of the Bridge. In response, Mr. Witt stated that the major components of the Bridge have a lifespan of more than 200 years, but only if maintenance projects are continued at the current level. He added that Bridge Division staff regularly attends industry meetings, such as the upcoming International Suspension Bridge Operators’ Conference, where they can learn about maintenance methods used by operators of other bridges that were built in the same era as the Golden Gate Bridge.
     
 
  • Acting Chair Kerns made the following comments and inquiries:
    • He expressed his appreciation to Mr. Witt for providing such a detailed and informative presentation on Bridge operations and maintenance. In response to Director Kerns’ statement, Ms. Kupersmith thanked the Board of Directors for providing the financial resources necessary to maintain the Bridge and allow the District to participate in research and development for Bridge maintenance.
    • He inquired as to whether there was sufficient staffing in the Bridge Service Department to handle the increase in vehicle service calls on the Bridge span. In response, Mr. Witt stated that staffing is sufficient at the present time, but that he and his management staff monitor traffic levels and the District’s response capabilities closely.
    • He inquired as to whether the high amount of salinity in the air at the Golden Gate, compared to other bridges, requires extra Bridge maintenance to be performed. In response, Mr. Witt answered in the affirmative, noting that the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most difficult bridges in the world to maintain due to the weather conditions at the site. He further noted that the District has investigated how off-shore oil rigs are maintained to learn about methods that could be used on the Bridge.
     
 
  • Director Eddie commented that the general public should be given an opportunity to view the presentation on Bridge operations and maintenance, so as to better understand how Bridge toll revenues are spent.

Action by the Board – None Required

     
3.
Approve Actions Relative to the Award of Contract No. 2007-FT-6, Dry-docking of the M.S. San Francisco and the M.S. Sonoma for Routine U.S. Coast Guard Inspection, Hull Maintenance and Repairs, to Bay Ship & Yacht Co.
     
 

In a memorandum to Committee, Deputy General Manager/Ferry Division James Swindler and General Manager Celia Kupersmith provided staff’s recommendation relative to the award of Contract No. 2007-FT-6, Dry-docking of the M.S. San Francisco and the M.S. Sonoma for Routine U.S. Coast Guard Inspection, Hull Maintenance and Repairs.

The specifications for Contract No. 2007-FT-6 divided the various dry-docking work tasks into two categories, Category “A” and Category “B.” The specifications required that all Category “A” work be completed, and that the District has the discretion to award all, some or none of the Category “B” items. The report stated that on July 25, 2006, two bids were received, opened and publicly read for Contract No. 2007-FT-6, from each of the two primary providers of ship maintenance and repair services for vessels such as those operated by the District. The report also stated that Bay Ship & Yacht Co. is the lowest monetary bidder, with a total bid price of $753,001 for all Category “A” and all Category “B” items.

Staff and the Attorney for the District have reviewed the bids and determined that the low bidder is a responsible bidder and has satisfied the bid requirements, with the exception that that Bay Ship & Yacht included as a condition to its bid that its total aggregate cumulative liability and total aggregate cumulative insurance coverage be limited to $5 million dollars. The report noted that the other bidder, BAE Systems San Francisco Ship Repair, Inc., had also placed a condition on its bid by requesting the District to consider a lower limit of liability, and that neither bidder would have a competitive advantage as a result of the condition. Staff recommends that that this exception be waived as a minor irregularity, and that all of the Category “A” items, in the amount of $171,238, and certain Category “B” items, in an amount not to exceed $128,762, be awarded to Bay Ship & Yacht Co., for a total bid amount of $300,000. The DBE Program Administrator has determined that no DBE participation is anticipated for this contract. A copy of the report is available from the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

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

     
 
RECOMMENDATION
     
 
The Transportation Committee recommends that the Board of Directors approve the following actions relative to Contract No. 2007-FT-6, Dry-Docking of the M.S. San Francisco and the M.S. Sonoma for Routine U.S. Coast Guard Inspection, Hull Maintenance and Repairs:
  a.
Approve waiving minor irregularities in the bid submitted by Bay Ship & Yacht Co.; and
  b.

Authorize award of, to Bay Ship & Yacht Co., Alameda, CA, in the total amount of $300,000, which includes all Category “A” items in the amount of $171,238, and certain Category “B” items not to exceed $128,762; with the understanding that requisite funds are included in the FY 06/07 Ferry Transit Division Operating Budget.

Action by the Board – Resolution
NON-CONSENT CALENDAR

     
 
AYES (7):       Acting Chair Kerns; Directors Boro, Eddie, Martini, Sandoval and Stroeh; President Middlebrook (Ex Officio)
NOES (0):      None
ABSENT (6): Chair Brown; Directors Cochran, Moylan, Murray, Newhouse Segal and Pahre
     
 
[Note:  The above recommendation was forwarded to the Board of Directors meeting of August 11, 2006, for action.]
     
4. Report on “Spare the Air Day” Bus and Ferry Services
     
 

Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Teri W. Mantony provided a PowerPoint presentation on the District’s experience with the recent “Spare the Air” free transit days, and specifically on how Golden Gate Transit (GGT) bus and ferry services were affected on those days, reporting that this year, free transit was offered on six “Spare the Air” days: June 22, June 23, June 26, July 17, July 20, and July 21, 2006. In addition to a PowerPoint presentation, the Committee was also provided with a document that included several representative newspaper editorials and letters to the editor that discussed the public’s experience with “Spare the Air” days, as well as the District’s generic response to public comments on the topic. This document also included general information regarding “Spare the Air” days, noting that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) declares “Spare the Air” days when the overall Bay Area air quality reaches certain levels. On these days, all Bay Area residents are asked to fight air pollution by driving less and using public transportation. As an incentive to use public transportation on “Spare the Air” days, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) offered reimbursement of fares and expenses to Bay Area public transit operators, in order to allow for free, all-day transit rides on “Spare the Air” days.

Ms. Mantony proceeded with a PowerPoint presentation, with the following main topics of discussion:

 
  • Program Specifics
  • Revenue Reimbursement
  • Marketing
  • Media/Public Relations
  • Customer Service
  • Bus Ridership During “Spare the Air” Days
  • Ferry Ridership During “Spare the Air” Days
  • Successes
  • Challenges
  • Next Steps
     
 

In her presentation, Ms. Mantony emphasized that one of the significant changes in the “Spare the Air” program was that in 2005, free rides were offered for all transit service during the morning commute period only. This year, the program was extended to include the entire day, rather than just the morning commute. She stated that 26 Bay Area transit operators participated in the program, with Vallejo Transit and Vallejo Baylink Ferry being the only significant service providers to opt not to provide free rides on “Spare the Air” days. Ms. Mantony summarized how the District’s revenue was reimbursed by the MTC, noting that the District was reimbursed for average farebox revenues, using last year’s passenger counts as a gauge, as well as for any extra service that was required.

Ms. Mantony described the marketing and public relations that was undertaken for the program, stating that the BAAQMD spent approximately $1.8 million on advertising on radio, cable television, bus wraps and other materials. She noted that the Golden Gate Transit bus with the “Spare the Air” bus wrap was a centerpiece of the “Spare the Air” program advertisements. She displayed a chart which depicted the high volume of calls that were made to the District’s Customer Service Center on the “Spare the Air” days. She stated that the majority of comments from the public were positive, with a few complaints related to overcrowding, lack of seats for regular commuters and the perception that the District was losing revenue by participating in the “Spare the Air” day promotion.

Ms. Mantony displayed several line charts depicting the increases in ridership for Golden Gate Transit buses, as well as Larkspur and Sausalito ferry service, during the “Spare the Air” days. She noted that Golden Gate Transit experienced a noteworthy 19% increase ridership on the six “Spare the Air” days, while Golden Gate Ferry experienced an increase of 350% in ridership on those days. The Golden Gate Ferry carried a record-breaking 25,000 passengers on July 21, 2006, a significant increase over the typical 5,000 daily passengers normally carried system-wide. Ms. Mantony also stated that the experience with the high “Spare the Air” day ridership showed the true capacity of the District’s transit system, and also indicated how large a crowd could be accommodated at both the San Francisco and Larkspur ferry terminals.

In conclusion, Ms. Mantony described the challenges that the District faced, touching on the following points:

 
  • Security/crowd control
  • Customer service
    • Carrying large number of passengers unfamiliar with service
    • Overcrowding
    • Customer perceptions
  • On-time performance/service delays
  • Additional maintenance/repair needed
  • Parking issues
  • Timing of notification for deployment of a free transit “Spare the Air” day
  • Sustaining ridership increases
     
 

Ms. Mantony stated that the MTC has determined that there will be no more free transit days declared in 2006. She noted that District staff will participate in the MTC’s regional planning committee, which will continue to identify alternatives for future “Spare the Air” day programs. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

Celia Kupersmith elaborated on the presentation, providing the following information:

 
  • She stated that the testing of the capacity of the ferry terminals, especially the San Francisco Ferry Terminal, was significant, because of BART’s planned seismic retrofit of the Transbay Tube underneath the San Francisco Ferry Terminal. She noted that BART is no longer proposing to relocate the District’s ferry facilities to a temporary ferry terminal while the retrofit construction is underway, which is fortunate, because a smaller temporary ferry terminal would not be able to handle the extraordinary crowds that used the San Francisco Ferry Terminal on the “Spare the Air” days.
  • She stated that the BAAQMD controls the funding for the “Spare the Air” program, as well as dictates how the funding will be allocated by the MTC. She further noted that the “Spare the Air” program is very expensive for the BAAQMD.
  • She stated that there needs to be a proper balance between the two goals of the “Spare the Air” program: 1) to increase ridership; and, 2) to reduce air pollution in the Bay Area.
  • She noted that staff was encouraged by the fact that ridership increased on one of the “Spare the Air” days, even though free transit fares had not been offered on that day.
  • She commended staff at both the Bus and Ferry divisions who performed exemplary work at key transit locations during the “Spare the Air” days.
     
 

Discussion ensued, including the following:

     
 
  • Director Martini made the following inquiries and comments:
    • He inquired as to how much of the increased “Spare the Air” day ridership was attributable to recreational day-trippers, as opposed to regular commuters. In response, Ms. Mantony stated that the vast majority of riders were day-trippers, including many families with children.
    • He inquired as to whether the “Spare the Air” days resulted in sustained ridership on the ferries. In response, Rebecca Wessling, representing the Ferry Division, stated that Golden Gate Ferry has seen a steady increase in ridership this summer, so any sustained ridership increase cannot necessarily be attributed to “Spare the Air” days.
    • He commented that he had heard from some constituents who had negative experiences on Golden Gate Transit on “Spare the Air” days and, as a result, will avoid taking transit on free transit days in the future. However, he noted that he supports “Spare the Air” free transit days as a way to motivate people to use transit.
    • He inquired as to whether the MTC had considered using grant money earmarked for “Spare the Air” days to support transit in less potentially problematic ways. In response, Ms. Kupersmith provided examples of some of the ideas being proffered by MTC: 1) offer free rides only during commute times; 2) have passengers pay regular fares on “Spare the Air” days and then receive a free ticket to use for a future ride as a goal to sustain ridership; and, 3) give preferential boarding and seating to regular commuters.
     
 
  • Acting Chair Kerns noted that it was unfortunate that the people who had an unpleasant experience while riding transit for the first time on a “Spare the Air” day may have been left with a bad impression of transit.
     
 
  • Director Stroeh commented that he had an opportunity to ride the ferry on one of the “Spare the Air” days, and described the experience as positive.  He complimented the District’s ferry staff who effectively handled the crowds under extraordinary conditions.
     
 
  • President Middlebrook made the following comments and inquiries:
    • She stated that it was likely that the extraordinary spike in ferry ridership on the “Spare the Air” days was due to the excessive heat, which drew more people to ride the ferries as a way to cool off.
    • She stated that it was good news that ridership increased on the “Spare the Air” day that was not declared a free transit day.
    • She inquired as to how ridership was affected on other ferry service providers on the “Spare the Air” days. In response, staff stated that Blue & Gold Fleet, a commercial ferry operator that declined to participate in the free transit program, experienced a significant drop in ridership on the “Spare the Air” days.
     
 
  • Director Sandoval suggested that staff could post signs on buses and ferries, publish a notice on the web site, create a brochure, or place editorials in local newspapers in order to express the District’s apologies to regular commuters who had been inconvenienced by the overcrowded conditions on “Spare the Air” days.  Ms. Kupersmith thanked Director Sandoval for his excellent suggestions.
     
 
  • In conclusion, Ms. Kupersmith announced that due to the closure of the eastbound deck of the Bay Bridge on Labor Day weekend, the District has been requested to have an extra ferry vessel available in case it is needed for extra service during the Bay Bridge closure.

Action by the Board – None Required

     
5.
Monthly Report on Activities Related to Marin Local Service Contract with Marin County Transit District
     
 
The monthly report on activities related to the Marin Local Service contract with the Marin County Transit District (MCTD) was furnished to the Transportation Committee.  The report included the following elements:
  1.
A spreadsheet from the Planning Department providing statistics regarding GGT bus service performance of both District regional routes and MCTD local routes, for the month of  June 2006; and,
  2.
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, under the new five-year Agreement with the MCTD for Marin Local Bus Service, which became effective on May 1, 2006.
     
 
Due to the high volume of agendas and minutes from Marin County agencies related to this item, hard copies of those items were not provided to the Committee. Instead, electronic versions of the following items were posted on the District’s web site:
  1.
Agenda of the July 11, 2006, meeting of MCTD;
  2.
Minutes of the June 13, 2006, meeting of MCTD;
  3.
Agenda of the July 27, 2006, meeting of the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM);
 

4.

Minutes of the June 22, 2006, meeting of TAM; and,
  5.
Agenda and minutes of the July 12, 2006, meeting of the TAM Executive Committee.
 
Copies of all of the above-listed items are available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Ms. Kupersmith stated that staff has completed the final reconciliation of the Agreement with the MCTD for Marin Local Bus Service that expired on April 30, 2006. She also stated that District staff is working closely with the MCTD staff regarding the rollout of MCTD service changes to be implemented in September 2006. She also reported that MCTD is currently recruiting for the position of General Manager of MCTD, and that several strong candidates have been selected for interviews.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

     
 
  • Director Boro requested that it is important that MCTD provide the District with a vision of the long-term expectations of MCTD after the current five-year Agreement with the MCTD for Marin Local Bus Service expires.  He emphasized that as MCTD’s new transit agency expands, it is crucial for both agencies to understand the future direction of transit in Marin County, since the two transit systems are closely related and somewhat dependent upon each other.  In response, Ms. Kupersmith stated that the future of the contractual relationship will be one of the first things that the new MCTD General Manager will need to address.  She informed the Committee that MCTD is considering seeking a “designated recipient status” in order to receive federal transit grant allocations directly, rather than have the District serve as a “pass-through” agency for such allocations.

Action by the Board – None Required

     
6. Public Comment
     
 
Tim Smith described his experiences as an occasional commuter from Rohnert Park to the Fireman’s Fund Insurance office complex in Novato and expressed his concerns regarding the attitudes of regular commuters on the Golden Gate Transit bus route he used.
     
7. Adjournment
     
  All business having been concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.
     

 

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Mike Kerns, Acting Chair
Transportation Committee