October 12, 2006
(For Board: October 27, 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 Board Room, Administration Building, Toll Plaza, San Francisco, California, on Thursday, October 12, 2006, at 10:00 a.m., Chair Brown presiding.

Committee Members Present (7): Chair Brown; Vice Chair Kerns; Directors Cochran, Grosboll, Newhouse Segal and Pahre; President Middlebrook (Ex Officio)

Committee Members Absent (2): Directors Moylan and Murray

Other Directors Present (2): Directors Eddie and Stroeh

Staff Present: General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith; District Engineer Denis J. Mulligan; Auditor-Controller Joseph M. Wire; 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/Ferry Division James P. Swindler; Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Teri W. Mantony; Planning Director Alan R. Zahradnik; Public Affairs Director Mary C. Currie; Principal Planner Ron Downing; Assistant Clerk of the Board Karen B. Engbretson; Executive Assistant to the General Manager Amorette Ko

Visitors Present: None

     
1. Report of the District Advisory Committees
     
  a. Advisory Committee on Accessibility
     
   

The agenda for the September 21, 2006, meeting and the minutes of the July 20, 2006, meeting of the Advisory Committee on Accessibility (ACA) 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

     
  b. Bus Passengers Advisory Committee
     
   

There was no meeting of the Bus Passengers Advisory Committee in September 2006; therefore, no meeting materials were furnished to the Transportation Committee.

Action by the Board – None Required

     
  c. Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee
     
   

The agenda for the September 6, 2006, meeting and the minutes of the August 9, 2006, meeting of the Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee was furnished to the Transportation Committee.  Copies are available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

Discussion ensued, including the following:
     
   
  • Director Eddie made the following comments:
    • He commented on an item included in the minutes of the August 9, 2006, meeting of the Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee, regarding overcrowding of the Larkspur Ferry during peak morning commute trips. He noted that the number of passengers left behind at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal averaged 23 per day. He stated that it was fortunate that the District initiated the process to purchase a third high-speed ferry vessel, which will add capacity to the District’s existing ferry service during peak commute periods.
    • He commented on the record-setting number of passengers who rode Golden Gate Ferry on July 21, 2006, which was one of the six free transit “Spare the Air” days, as well as the day of a Giants baseball game at AT&T Park. He noted that the popularity of the District’s ferry service is further confirmation of the need to add capacity to the ferry fleet.
     
   
  • Director Grosboll inquired regarding the timeline for the purchase of a replacement high-speed ferry vessel.  In response, Ms. Kupersmith stated that following action by the Board of Directors on June 23, 2006 to approve the purchase of a high-speed vessel, there will be an estimated 24- to 36-month period for design, environmental analysis, construction and testing that would precede delivery of the new vessel.  She further stated that the purchase of this higher-capacity ferry vessel will be an effective long-term solution to the problem of overcrowding on the ferries.
     
   
  • Celia Kupersmith reported on how “Spare the Air” days may be restructured next year, based on passenger feedback and transit operators’ experience. She stated that District staff has communicated to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) about ferry customers’ complaints about overcrowding and disruption of their regular commutes, and that both agencies have been receptive to the District’s concerns. Ms. Kupersmith expressed her appreciation to Director Brown, who is also a member of the BAAQMD Board of Directors, and who provided assistance to the District during the “Spare the Air” days.
     
   
  • Director Newhouse Segal inquired regarding examples of how “Spare the Air” days may be restructured in 2007.  In response, Ms. Kupersmith stated that some of the ideas being considered include: 1)  providing free trips during the morning commute only; 2)  providing free trips during the morning commute and then half-price trips in the afternoon; or, 3)  providing free trips only during non-commute hours in the middle of the day.
     
   
  • Director Brown, as senior member of the BAAQMD Board of Directors, confirmed that the BAAQMD is very receptive to concerns regarding the “Spare the Air” days and next year will be more mindful of notifying the transit agencies with as much notice as possible of impending “Spare the Air” days.

Action by the Board – None Required

     
2. Status Report on Marin County Transit District/Golden Gate Transit Local Bus Service Changes
     
 

In a memorandum to Committee, Principal Planner Ron Downing, Director of Planning Alan R. Zahradnik, Deputy General Manager/Bus Division Susan C. Chiaroni and General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith provided a status report on Marin County Transit District (MCTD) and Golden Gate Transit (GGT) local bus service changes that went into effect on September 10, 2006.  The report stated that under the Agreement for Intra-County Public Bus Transit Service in Marin County (Local Service Agreement), the MCTD is responsible for basic design of the local bus system, including street alignment headways and span of service for 26 GGT bus routes identified in the Local Service Agreement.  The report also stated that GGT is responsible for reviewing and confirming the operational feasibility of the MCTD service design and providing the resources required to operate, maintain and administratively support the services.  The service changes made on September 10, 2006, represent the first major adjustment of service under the Local Service Agreement.

The report described the comprehensive outreach to the public that was undertaken both prior to and during the week of implementation.  The report stated that GGT staff from the Customer Relations, Marketing, Planning and Bus Operations departments assisted staff from the MCTD with this outreach.  In addition, several Spanish-speaking GGT Bus Operators provided invaluable assistance to Latino passengers at a number of key transit locations in Marin County.  The report also stated that there has been a relatively low volume of customer comments received by the GGT Customer Relations, both in the form of comment cards and phone calls.  All complaints or comments received by GGT staff have been logged and forwarded to the MCTD.

The report noted that ridership and transfer patterns on the MCTD local bus routes have remained essentially unchanged compared to before the service changes, with an average of over 11,000 boarding passenger trips per weekday both before and after the September 10, 2006 service changes.

The report also described several service issues that have emerged after implementation of the MCTD service changes, noting that the issues are grouped in the following three general categories:
     
  1.
Service Design (related to time span of service or frequency of service)
   
a.   Lack of later evening service in Mill Valley and Fairfax that previously had service; and,
    b.   Reduction in service frequency of Route 29 from half-hourly to hourly has been problematic at certain locations.
     
  2.
Service Reliability (related to schedule adherence)
   
a.   On-time performance issues on Routes 22 and 23, as a result of traffic congestion; and,
   
b.   Schedule adherence issues on new Novato local routes, as a result of school traffic congestion.
   
  3.
Service Capacity (related to overcrowding)
   
a.   Limited overcrowding related to student ridership near Redwood, Terra Linda and San Marin high schools.
     
 

The report further stated that GGT staff has been working closely with MCTD staff to monitor the above-described service issues, and have identified some cost-neutral shifts in resources that will solve the service issues within the costs contained in the Local Service Agreement.  The report noted that some of these service modifications have already been made and that other modifications will be undertaken during the next system-wide quarterly sign-up in December 2006.  A copy of the report is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Celia Kupersmith provided a brief introduction, noting that all but two MCTD local bus routes were affected by the September 10, 2006 service changes.  Ron Downing summarized the staff report, noting that overall, the service changes progressed very smoothly following implementation.  He further noted that staffs of both GGT and the MCTD will continue to monitor the on-going progress of the service changes.

Discussion ensued, including the following:
     
 
  • President Middlebrook made the following inquiries:
    • She inquired regarding the financial reconciliation between the District and the MCTD related to the shifting of resources for local bus service. In response, Ms. Kupersmith stated that the Local Service Agreement provides for the flexibility to shift service around according to service needs. If additional service is needed beyond what is accounted for in the Local Service Agreement, then the MCTD will be charged for the additional service based on an annual reconciliation process.
    • She inquired as to how the District handles customer comments related to MCTD local bus service. In response, Mr. Kupersmith stated that as part of the Local Service Agreement, the GGT Call Center receives and logs all local bus service comments, which are then forwarded on to the MCTD. She stated that GGT staff also provides technical assistance to the MCTD staff regarding follow-up to customer comments.
     
 
  • Director Grosboll made the following inquiries:
    • He inquired as to the nature of the customer comments that were received regarding the MCTD service changes. In response, Mr. Downing stated that while no particular issue stood out, there were many concerns expressed regarding the reduction of late-night bus service to Mill Valley and Fairfax. He noted that in response to these concerns, several bus trips will be restored to the affected routes, providing service until 11:00 p.m.
    • He inquired as to whether other trips would be eliminated in order to add back the late-night bus service. In response, Mr. Downing stated that service would be shifted from underutilized early morning bus trips to provide the additional late-night bus trips.
    • He inquired regarding the type of customer notification that is undertaken when service is added or reduced. In response, Mr. Downing stated that customers are notified by way of posters at bus stops and key transit hubs, notices on bus seats and through distribution of updated Transit Guides.
     
 
  • Director Brown made the following comments and inquiries:
    • He requested additional information regarding the restoration of late-night bus service to Fairfax.
    • He inquired regarding the measurement of on-time performance in the GGT bus system, noting that he has received very positive feedback regarding GGT. In response, Ms. Kupersmith stated that sometimes on-time performance can be affected by the long distances traveled by some GGT bus routes and the potential for traffic congestion on the U.S. Highway 101 corridor. She commended the dedication of GGT Bus Operators who strive to balance safety with on-time performance. Alan Zahradnik elaborated regarding quarterly on-time performance reports compiled by GGT. He noted that the on-time performance rate for the summer 2006 was a noteworthy 90%, but that the rate is likely to drop to between 80-85% during the school year due to school traffic congestion. Mr. Zahradnik further described a new technology known as “signal prioritization,” which allows a traffic signal to recognize an approaching transit bus, and then remain green for a longer period of time in order to allow the bus to continue through the intersection. He stated that if such technology is implemented in Marin County, it could improve the on-time performance of GGT and MCTD bus routes in highly congested areas of the County.
     

    Action by the Board – None Required

   
     
3. 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  August 2006; and,
 
2.
A spreadsheet from the Auditor-Controller outlining the history of payments made to date by MCTD to the District under the Local Service Agreement, which became effective on May 1, 2006.
     
 
A spreadsheet from the Auditor-Controller outlining the history of payments made to date by MCTD to the District under the Local Service Agreement, which became effective on May 1, 2006.
 
1.
Agenda of the September 26, 2006, meeting of MCTD;
 
2.
Agenda of the September 28, 2006, meeting of the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM);
 
3.
Minutes of the July 27, 2006, meeting of TAM; and,
 
4.
Agenda and minutes of the September 13, 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 a status report on the September 10, 2006, service changes, the most significant matter related to the Local Service Agreement with the MCTD, are outlined under Agenda Item No. 2, above.  She also stated that the District’s Auditor-Controller Department is working with the MCTD to ensure that the MCTD is keeping current with its payments to the District under the Local Service Agreement.

Action by the Board – None Required
     
4. Public Comment
     
 

There was no public comment.

     
5. Adjournment
     
 

All business having been concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 10:25 a.m.

   

 

Respectfully submitted,
/s/ Harold C. Brown, Jr., Chair
Transportation Committee