November 9, 2006
(For Board: November 17, 2006)

REPORT OF THE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE/
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

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

Honorable Members:

A meeting of the Transportation Committee/Committee of the Whole was held in the Board Room, Administration Building, Toll Plaza, San Francisco, California, on Thursday, November 9, 2006, at 10:00 a.m., Chair Brown presiding.

Committee Members Present (7): Chair Brown; Directors Eddie, Grosboll, Martini, Moylan and Newhouse Segal; President Middlebrook (Ex Officio). Directors Eddie and Martini were appointed Committee Members Pro Tem for this meeting only.
Committee Members Absent (4): Vice Chair Kerns; Directors Cochran, Murray and Pahre
Other Directors Present (4): Directors Boro, McGoldrick, Reilly and Stroeh

Committee of the Whole Members Present (11): Directors Brown, Eddie, Grosboll, Martini, McGoldrick, Newhouse Segal, Reilly and Stroeh; Second Vice President Boro; First Vice President Moylan; President Middlebrook
Committee of the Whole Members Absent (8): Directors Ammiano, Cochran, Dufty, Hernández, Kerns, Murray, Pahre and Sandoval

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 David J. Miller; Deputy General Manager/Bridge Division Kary H. Witt; Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Teri W. Mantony; Planning Director Alan R. Zahradnik; Capital and Grant Programs Manager Gayle Prior; Assistant Clerk of the Board Patsy L. Whala; 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 October 19, 2006, meeting and the minutes of the September 21, 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
     
   

The agenda for the October 18, 2006, meeting and the minutes of the August 16, 2006, meeting of the Bus Passengers Advisory Committee 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

     
  c. Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee
     
   

The agenda for the October 4, 2006, meeting and the minutes of the September 6, 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.

Action by the Board – None Required

     
2.
Approve Adoption and Submittal of the Mini Short-Range Transit Plan for Regional Bus and Ferry Service to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission
     
 

In a memorandum to Committee, Director of Planning Alan R. Zahradnik and General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith provided staff’s recommendation to approve adoption and submittal of the District’s mini Short-Range Transit Plan for regional bus and ferry service for Fiscal Years 2007 through 2016.  The report stated that in June 2006, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) adopted new requirements for the submittal of a Short-Range Transit Plan (SRTP) by transit operators in the Bay Area.  The new requirements state that a full SRTP is required once every four years, and in all other years, transit operators must submit a “Mini Short-Range Transit Plan” (mini-SRTP).  The report also stated that the new mini-SRTP is required this year, while next year the District must submit a full draft SRTP in July 2007, with the final due in September 2007.  Unlike a full SRTP, the mini-SRTP does not require public hearings, but does require formal adoption by the submitting agency.  As has been the case with previous District SRTP documents, this mini-SRTP also reports on local bus service provided by Golden Gate Transit through contract with the Marin County Transit District (MCTD).

.

The report described the mini-SRTP, which consists of an Operations Plan, Operations Budget and a Capital Improvement Program, including the following elements:

  • A retrospective of the actual operating budgets;
  • A 10-year service plan (Fiscal Years 2006-2007 through 2015-2016), showing revenue hours and miles by mode and service type, with revenues and expenditures to fund the plan;
  • Capital asset replacement requirements based on the estimated useful lifespan of District assets; and,
  • A fleet inventory update that identifies the years vehicles went into use and the years vehicles are likely to be taken out of service, as well as vehicle manufacturers and the types of fuel propulsion systems used in the vehicles.
 

The report further stated that the mini-SRTP is consistent with the District’s Strategic Plan for Achieving Long-Term Financial Stability and concludes with a brief description of how the District will address its projected budget shortfall.  Attached to the staff report was a copy of the mini-SRTP.  A copy of the staff report, with attachment, is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Celia Kupersmith briefly summarized the staff report, noting that the mini-SRTP presented at this meeting is in compliance with newly adopted MTC regulatory requirements.  Alan Zahradnik provided additional details regarding the contents of the mini-SRTP.

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

RECOMMENDATION

     
 

The Transportation Committee recommends that the Board of Directors approve adoption and submittal of the District’s mini Short-Range Transit Plan for regional bus and ferry service for Fiscal Years 2007 through 2016 to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Action by the Board – Resolution
NON-CONSENT CALENDAR

     
 
AYES (11):   Directors Brown, Eddie, Grosboll, Martini, McGoldrick, Newhouse Segal, Reilly and Stroeh; Second Vice President Boro; First Vice President Moylan; President Middlebrook
NOES (0):    None
     
 
[Note:  The above recommendation will be forwarded to the Board of Directors meeting of November 17, 2006, for action.]
     
3.
Discussion on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Triennial Performance Audit
     
 

In a memorandum to Committee, Capital and Grant Programs Manager Gayle Prior, Director of Planning Alan R. Zahradnik, Auditor-Controller Joseph Wire and General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith provided an informational report regarding the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Triennial Performance Audit of the District.  The report stated that the Public Utilities Code Section 99246 requires that all transit operators receiving Transportation Development Act (TDA) funds undergo a performance audit every three years.  The report explained that the District is the recipient of approximately $12 to $15 million in TDA funds and $2 to $3 million State Transit Assistance Act (STA) funds, which are distributed annually by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and are used for various transit operating purposes. 

The report also stated that as the regional transportation planning agency for the San Francisco Bay Area, MTC is responsible for overseeing the triennial performance audits of Bay Area operators.  The District’s Triennial Performance Audit for Fiscal Years 2003, 2004 and 2005 was conducted earlier this year by the MTC, and the final audit report was completed in June 2006.  An Executive Summary of the Triennial Performance Audit was attached to the staff report.  A copy of the staff report, with attachment, is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.  A copy of the MTC’s Triennial Performance Audit report in its entirety is available in the Office of the District Secretary.

At the meeting, Ms. Kupersmith summarized the staff report and the findings of the Triennial Performance Audit, which contained six recommendations related to District transit services.  The list of recommendations, as well as the District’s plan to address each of them, is outlined below, along with the applicable discussion by the Committee.
     
  1.
Establish a Set of Quantifiable Performance Standards for GGBHTD’s (the District’s) Goals and Objectives.
     
   

The District’s Short Range Transit Plan (SRTP) contains goals, objectives, measures and standards for Golden Gate Transit (GGT) bus, Golden Gate Ferry (GGF) and complementary paratransit services.  As noted in Agenda Item No. 2, above, the next full update of the SRTP is scheduled for FY 07-08.  Currently, some of the District’s transit performance measures and standards are not quantified.  Staff will address this audit recommendation in the upcoming SRTP.

No discussion ensued relative to this finding.
     
  2.
Complete the Efforts to Develop a Comprehensive Performance Monitoring System.
     
   

Transit service performance is reported every four years in the SRTP and monthly to management and the Board via a variety of reports.  Staff is in the process of developing a comprehensive system (Transtat) for compiling transit service data, analyzing transit performance and reporting performance in a routine, uniformly formatted report.  GGT bus performance is currently reported by Transtat.  Staff will complete this enhanced system by adding GGF, club bus and complementary paratransit service, as recommended.

Discussion regarding Recommendation No. 2 ensued, including the following:
     
   
  • Director Grosboll inquired as to whether the District has a targeted goal for developing the comprehensive transit data reporting system.  In response, Alan Zahradnik replied that staff will be accomplishing the goal with the completion of the enhanced Transtat transit service reporting system by November 2007.
     
  3. Investigate the Decrease in Bus On-Time Performance and Develop an Improvement Plan.
     
   

The District has a 90% on-time performance standard for GGT bus system.  During the audit period, performance dropped from 85% to just under 81%.  However, more recently in 2006, performance has improved to nearly 90%. 

The District underwent a significant downsizing and reorganization of remaining bus routes in 2002/2003.  Approximately 22% of transit service was eliminated due to significant funding shortfalls.  In order to minimize the impact of the service reductions to our passengers, the District implemented substantial re-routing and merging of various bus routes.  As a result of the substantial change to our bus system routes and schedules, the District experienced decreased on-time performance as bus operators and passengers each had to learn the new system of routes.  The District’s direction to bus operators was to maximize the opportunity for passengers to use the new service routes and in many cases, this caused drivers to hold up service while waiting for passengers to get to the correct bus.  Also, over time, the new routes’ scheduling needs became clearer and schedules were adjusted to reflect the operating realities encountered on the new routes.

On-time performance has improved substantially over the past year and the District recently saw a return to 90% on-time performance this past summer.  Due to substantial reorganization of the local Marin bus service routes effective this past September, it is expected the numbers will dip again and then rebound.  Once the route structure fully stabilizes, it is expected that there will be continued success with on-time performance.  The District has plans to develop an Automatic Vehicle Location System to track actual bus running times during varying traffic conditions so more accurate schedules can be created.  Other factors affecting on-time performance will be investigated and plans will be developed to address these factors, as recommended.

Discussion regarding Recommendation No. 3 ensued, including the following:

     
   
  • Director Brown inquired as to how the District’s on-time performance rate ranked with that of other comparable transit systems.  In response, Mr. Zahradnik stated that among other bus system operators, on-time performance goals of 85%-90% are common, with actual on-time performance rates of 75%-85% being met.  He noted that by comparison, the District is doing very well with its rate of 90%.
     
  4. Investigate the Increase in Complaints in the Bus and Ferry Divisions and Develop a Plan to Reduce Complaints.
     
   

The District underwent a significant downsizing and reorganization of remaining bus routes in 2002/2003.  Approximately 22% of transit service was eliminated during this time period due to significant funding shortfalls.  In 2004, ferry services were restructured to reduce operating cost as well.  It was due to this substantial amount of change that the District saw an associated increase in the total number of complaints received.  As customers have become more comfortable in their new routines, complaints have decreased but still remain high and reflect in part the loss of services previously provided.  The District has recently developed a more comprehensive complaint tracking system that will allow staff to more finely tune its attention to repeated problem areas to ensure that fixes are found and problems eliminated.

No discussion ensued relative to this finding.
     
  5.
Investigate the Increase in Bus Operator Absences and Develop a Plan to Reduce those Absences.
     
   

The District underwent a significant reduction in the Bus Operators’ workforce in 2003.  The Bus Operators have a negotiated attendance control program to minimize attendance problems; however, several mandated laws such as FMLA and Family Sick have increased the number of allowable absences.  Recently, there was a change in the tracking and reporting of absences which may have affected the results of this audit period.  Staff is reviewing the reporting practices.  Maintaining an adequate number in the workforce impacts driver absences and this milestone has been accomplished over the last two years.  This should help reduce attendance-related problems.  The District will continue to monitor this measurement in an effort to catch trends early and make necessary adjustments.

Discussion regarding Recommendation No. 5 ensued, including the following:
     
   
  • Director McGoldrick inquired as to the average percentage of Bus Operators that are absent at any given time.  In response, Joseph Wire stated that during the 2003-2005 audit period, Bus Operator absences were at times as high as 40%, and that the absence rate has now decreased significantly to 32%, with less overtime being used.  Director McGoldrick further requested that staff provide a report at a future meeting of the Committee regarding the number of District employees that are absent due to temporary and/or long-term disability during the past three years.
     
  6. Establish Procedures to Track Bus Mechanic Absences on a Regular Basis.
     
   
The District is currently working with its Payroll and IT departments to develop an automated report within our new Integrated Financial Accounting System that will allow for tracking of bus mechanic absences.  This report will provide detailed information including the type of absence, i.e., sick, vacation, industrial injury, personal leave, jury duty, etc.  It is anticipated that this report will be completed and available in June 2007.
     
 
Discussion regarding general topics related to the Triennial Performance Audit ensued, including the following:
     
 
  • Director Reilly made the following inquiries:
    • She inquired as to how the overall findings of this audit compared with previous performance audits of the District. In response, Ms. Kupersmith stated that the Triennial Performance Audit for 2003–2005 contained a much higher number of recommendations than the District had experienced in previous audits, which usually contained two to three recommendations. She further explained that many of MTC’s findings in the audit were directly related to the substantial changes made to the District’s transit system in 2003.
    • She inquired regarding the cost efficiency figures quoted on page ii of the Executive Summary, which stated that, “Cost efficiency worsened, with the operating costs per vehicle service hour rising from $121.79 in FY 2000 to $168.80 in FY 2005.” In response, Mr. Zahradnik explained the difference between revenue service hours and total service hours, noting that the statistic that MTC auditors used was costs per revenue hours. He stated that the District determines cost efficiency using cost per total hours, because GGT has a high amount of non-revenue hours due to the large size of its service area and the high number of deadheading buses traveling continuously between San Rafael and San Francisco. He further explained that cost efficiency may have worsened, as measured in the audit, but that during the same period in which unproductive revenue service hours were reduced, the District achieved a cost reduction of over $13 million to help attain its strategic planning goal of reducing the transit deficit.
    • She noted the difference between the costs per vehicle service hour of $168.80 quoted in the audit and the costs per hour of $113 paid by the MCTD for Marin Local Bus Service during the same period. She inquired as to how the District made up the difference in costs. In response, Mr. Zahradnik explained how the costs for Marin Local Bus Service are calculated, noting that the local bus service provided by GGT for MCTD uses shared resources, and that GGT regional bus service bears a greater share of the overhead cost burden. Mr. Wire further explained that during the three-year audit period, the District significantly reduced the overall cost of its transit service by reducing service and by having the MCTD pay a higher share of the local bus service costs. He also stated that GGT Bus Service Performance is reported monthly to the Committee as part of Agenda Item No. 4, below, and that the current figure for the cost per hour is $165.42. He noted that the cost per hour statistic could be lowered if the District put more buses on the road, even if they did not draw large amounts of passengers, because the costs would then be spread over many more hours. The cost per hour would drop but the overall subsidy would increase.
    • She inquired regarding the fact that the MCTD is establishing its own set of performance measures for local bus services operated by GGT, as quoted on page vi of the Executive Summary. In response, Mr. Zahradnik stated that under the five-year Agreement with the MCTD for Marin Local Bus Service, MCTD manages its own system and it is appropriate for MCTD to set its own performance standards.
     
 
  • Ms. Kupersmith reported that at a recent workshop, the MTC commissioners discussed the effectiveness of the Triennial Performance Audits and expressed interest in making them more useful to help transit agencies improve their operations more effectively.
     
 
  • Director Newhouse Segal made the following comments and inquiries:
    • She inquired that if the MTC commissioners are exploring a better audit system so that transit agencies would not be rewarded for running empty buses. In response, Ms. Kupersmith stated that the District has provided comments to the MTC that the Triennial Performance Audit should explore more transit performance statistics, in order to create a more accurate picture of a transit agency’s performance.
    • She cautioned that when Bay Area transit agencies provide feedback to the MTC regarding the Triennial Performance Audit, the feedback should focus on improvements that would make the audits more reflective of an agency’s mission and commitment to its customers, rather than objecting to the findings of unfavorable audits.
     
 
  • Chair Brown commented that it is sometimes difficult to serve two masters at the same time, in that the transit service changes the District made to reduce its deficit may not have been the best thing for its customers.  However, the transit service reductions that resulted in performance issues identified in the Triennial Performance Audit also allowed the District to continue to offer its transit services to its customers.  He also noted that overall, the District benefited from the revenue generation and deficit reduction that resulted from having a more efficient transit system.
     
 
  • Director Eddie commented that the District is unique as a transit operator in that its transit services are subsidized by Golden Gate Bridge tolls, and that due to its high visibility, the District is more cautious than a stand-alone transit operator would be about running empty buses in order to reduce the cost per vehicle service hour.
     
 
  • Director McGoldrick made the following inquiries:
    • He inquired as to whether eligibility for federal funding requires that transit agencies achieve a certain farebox recovery rate. In response, Ms. Kupersmith noted that there is no such requirement on the federal level, but that there is a state-mandated farebox recovery rate that must be met in order to be eligible for state TDA funding.
    • He inquired as to the types of companies hired by the MTC to perform the Triennial Performance Audits. In response, Mr. Wire stated that the audit firm hired by the MTC for this audit is a highly specialized, small firm.
    • He inquired as to whether the MTC would be open to feedback from the District regarding ways to improve the Triennial Performance Audit. In response, Ms. Kupersmith stated that the District is one of several Bay Area transit agencies participating in the process with the MTC, and that she is confident that the MTC will be receptive to any feedback from the transit agencies.

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 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  September 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 October 28, 2006, meeting of the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM);
  2.
Minutes of the September 26, 2006, meeting of TAM; and,
  3.
Agenda and minutes of the October 11, 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 District staff has been researching the comparative impact of either continuing the Agreement for Local Bus Service with MCTD or having local bus service provided by a separate provider, following expiration of the current five-year agreement. She noted that staff will present its research to the Board of Directors in 2007.

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 10:45 a.m.
     

 

Respectfully submitted,

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