March 8, 2007
(For Board: March 23, 2007)

 

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, March 8, 2007, at 10:00 a.m., Chair Brown presiding.

Committee Members Present (6): Chair Brown; Directors Cochran, Grosboll, Middlebrook, Newhouse Segal; President Moylan (Ex Officio)

Committee Members Absent (3): Vice Chair Kerns; Directors McGlashan and Pahre

Other Directors Present (2): Directors Boro and Eddie

Staff Present: General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith; District Engineer Denis J. Mulligan; Secretary of the District Janet S. Tarantino; Attorney David J. Miller; Deputy General Manager/Bridge Kary H. Witt; Division 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; Acting Auditor-Controller and Procurement and Retail Operations Director Lori Murray; Public Affairs Director Mary C. Currie; Marketing and Communications Director Kellee Hopper; Director of Planning Alan R. Zahradnik; Principal Planner Ron Downing; 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

     
1. Report of the District Advisory Committees
     
  a. Advisory Committee on Accessibility (ACA)
     
   
The agenda for the February 15, 2007, meeting and the minutes of the January 18, 2007, meeting of the Advisory Committee on Accessibility were furnished to the Transportation Committee.  Copies are available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.
     
  b. Bus Passengers Advisory Committee
     
   
The agenda for the February 21, 2007, meeting and the minutes of the December 13, 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.
     
  c. Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee
     
   

The agenda for the February 7, 2007, meeting and the minutes of the January 3, 2007, meeting of the Ferry 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

     
2. Status Report on TransLink® Program Implementation
     
 

In a memorandum to Committee, Director of Planning Alan Zahradnik, Marketing and Communications Director Kellee Hopper, Auditor-Controller Joseph Wire and General Manager Celia Kupersmith provided a status report regarding TransLink®, the regional automatic fare collection program developed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). The TransLink® fare payment system is designed to be a convenient way for passengers to travel on any bus or ferry throughout the San Francisco Bay Area transit systems using a single card.

The report stated that on November 17, 2006, the MTC approved a request by the TransLink® contractor, Motorola/ERG Transit Systems (ERG), for “revenue ready” status for the TransLink® system and initiated the Phase 2 “Pre-Launch” of TransLink® on all regularly scheduled Golden Gate Transit (GGT) bus and ferry services. This program milestone was followed by a concerted effort from ERG, MTC and District staff to establish a base of GGT passengers for a managed, real-time test of TransLink®, so the satisfactory performance of this automated fare collection system could be ascertained before promoting the “Hard Launch” of TransLink® to all GGT customers.

The report described the press events and public outreach efforts undertaken by the District to kick off the “Pre-Launch” of TransLink®, which were held at ferry terminals, the San Rafael Transit Center and GGT bus stops in the San Francisco Financial District. TransLink® cards were distributed to willing “Pre-Launch” participants at these events and were also available through the District’s web site. During the “Pre-Launch” testing phase, participants were asked to report any problems to TransLink® Customer Service and to carry alternative forms of fare payment in the event TransLink® was not working. The report noted that over 1,400 TransLink® fare cards have been distributed to GGT customers to date: 550 to bus riders and 850 to ferry riders. The report included a chart that displayed the weekly use of TransLink® on the combined bus and ferry services since December 1, 2006.

The report described the overall positive feedback from “Pre-Launch” TransLink® customers, noting that results of a survey of over 300 TransLink® users showed that more than 80% of ferry riders and more than 70% of bus riders encountered no or few problems. While there had been some equipment problems in the early weeks of the “Pre-Launch” period, the majority of these problems have been addressed and the TransLink® equipment is now performing at or above contract standards. The report also described the role of Bus Operators in the success of TransLink®, stating that staff is communicating with Bus Operators, as well as customers, to respond to any observations or needs during the “Pre-Launch” period.

In conclusion, the report stated that staff is continuing to monitor TransLink® performance and will work with the MTC and ERG to resolve any remaining issues. Once all components of the TransLink® system are performing satisfactorily, a date for the “Hard Launch” will be set, and marketing promotions will be launched. A copy of the staff report is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Mr. Zahradnik summarized the staff report, noting that there has been a steady increase in TransLink® usage since the “Pre-Launch” period began November 17, 2006. He noted that a GGT bus with the installed TransLink® equipment was currently parked outside the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza Administration Building, in case any of the Committee members wished to test the TransLink® system.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

  • Director Middlebrook inquired as to whether other Bay Area transit operators participating in the TransLink® “Pre-Launch” had as positive an experience as the District. In response, Mr. Zahradnik stated that AC Transit had experienced some equipment problems in the early stages of the “Pre-Launch” period, and that the District had benefited from AC Transit’s experience by being able to proactively address similar problems.
  • Director Grosboll inquired regarding the contract performance standards for the TransLink® system. In response, Mr. Zahradnik explained that the District would seek a 90% or better customer satisfaction rate.
  • Celia Kupersmith commended the hard work of the many District employees, from all of the operating divisions of the District, whose extraordinary efforts contributed to a successful roll-out of the TransLink® system.

Action by the Board – None Required

     
3.
Approve Implementation of a Nine-Month Demonstration Project for Operation of a Dedicated Weekday, Midday-Only Shuttle Service Between the San Rafael Transit Center and the Larkspur Ferry Terminal
     
 

In a memorandum to Committee, Principal Planner Ron Downing, Director of Planning Alan Zahradnik and General Manager Celia Kupersmith provided a staff recommendation to approve implementation of a Nine-Month Demonstration Project for Operation of a Dedicated Weekday, Midday-Only Shuttle Service Between the San Rafael Transit Center and the Larkspur Ferry Terminal (Demonstration Project). The report stated that midday ferry service to and from the Larkspur Ferry Terminal and San Francisco has excess capacity and presents an opportunity for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (District) to attract new ferry patrons to the Larkspur ferry service during the middle of the day. However, opportunities for new ferry patrons to use this midday ferry service are constrained by the lack of available parking at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal and by limited alternative transit access options. In order to address the above-described constraints and provide access to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, this Demonstration Project is being proposed, using available Golden Gate Transit buses.

The report also stated that this Demonstration Project shuttle service is proposed to be designated as regional Golden Gate Transit Route No. 91. Regional passengers on this Demonstration Project shuttle service will pay the ferry fare to San Francisco upon boarding at the San Rafael Transit Center and receive a bus transfer to the ferry and local passengers will pay the local bus fare set by the Marin County Transit District.

The report further stated that the success of the Demonstration Project will require adequate public notification of its availability and customer outreach. To this end, the Marketing and Communications Department will provide an intensive marketing campaign, including communication pieces on the web site, the Transit Guide, the Golden Gate Gazette, as well as e-blast and e-mail communications, posters on-board the buses and at the transit hubs in Larkspur, San Rafael and San Francisco, and “Notice to Customers” flyers.

The report noted that the effective date for the Demonstration Project is June 2007 through March 2008, and that the service will be reviewed in December 2007, in order to assess the cost-effectiveness of the service. In December, a recommendation as to whether or not to continue the service beyond the March 2008 deadline date will be presented to the Transportation Committee and the Committee’s recommendation will then be forwarded to the full Board of Directors for action.

The report stated that the current FY 06/07 internal cost rate for midday bus service is $147.98 per hour, which rate represents a fully-allocated rate that includes expenses for all budgeted costs, such as drivers, dispatchers, road supervisors, maintenance labor, facilities security and Bus Transit Division administration overhead. The proposed shuttle is a small-scale service that will use existing midday resources and will not incur overhead or facilities security costs. As a result, the additional cost for operating this proposed Demonstration Project reflects only direct costs such as fuel, tires and maintenance costs. The direct costs associated with operation of the shuttle are $40,500 annually, which is projected to be offset by additional passenger revenue and will not require additional subsidy from the District. A copy of the staff report is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Ron Downing summarized the staff report, noting that the proposed Demonstration Project shuttle route would be approximately 2.6 miles in length, with seven trips per day between the San Rafael Transit Center and the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. He also stated that based on staff’s cost analysis, the Demonstration Project shuttle would need 30-50 riders per day to offset the additional cost of operating the shuttle. Mr. Downing explained that the nine-month period of the Demonstration Project corresponds to the dates of Bus Operators’ quarterly sign-ups, and that the Demonstration Project shuttle will commence after the June 10, 2007, sign-up.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

  • Director Newhouse Segal made the following comments and inquiries:
    • She inquired as to what hours constitute GGT midday service hours. In response, Mr. Downing stated that GGT midday service hours are between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
    • She inquired as to why the proposed Demonstration Project shuttle would not be provided during peak commute hours. In response, Mr. Downing explained that in order to provide peak hour shuttle service on the proposed route, the District would need dedicated buses and Bus Operators, costs for which would far exceed the costs for the proposed midday service. Mr. Downing also stated that after the Demonstration Project has been evaluated, staff will seek opportunities for grant funding from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and any other source to augment the cost of providing possible peak hour shuttle service in the future.
    • She inquired as to whether there was adequate parking near the San Rafael Transit Center for riders of the proposed Demonstration Project shuttle. In response, Mr. Downing explained that there are parking spaces available in Park and Ride lots under the U.S. Highway 101 overpasses, a short distance from the San Rafael Transit Center, and that users of the Demonstration Project shuttle will also be encouraged to use transit connections.
  • Director Boro commended staff for bringing forth this proposal to expand midday ferry ridership and suggested that staff assess the parking situation at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal throughout the Demonstration Project.
  • Director Grosboll inquired as to whether shuttle stops other than the San Rafael Transit Center had been considered. In response, Mr. Downing explained that staff had considered other possible shuttle stop locations, including the existing GGT stop at Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael, but that the costs associated with the increased distance between other locations and the Larkspur Ferry Terminal would make such shuttle stops less economically viable for the District.
  • Chair Brown emphasized the need for effective public outreach to publicize the Demonstration Project shuttle service, and suggested that leaflets be placed on vehicles parked at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.

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

RECOMMENDATION

The Transportation Committee recommends that the Board of Directors approve implementation of a Nine-Month Demonstration Project for Operation of a Weekday, Midday-Only Shuttle Service Between the San Rafael Transit Center and the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, effective June 2007, through March 2008, with the understanding that the service is intended to be sustainable without additional District subsidy; and, with the further understanding that regional passengers on this Demonstration Project shuttle service would pay the ferry fare to San Francisco upon boarding at the San Rafael Transit Center and receive a bus transfer to the ferry and local passengers would pay the local bus fare set by the Marin County Transit District; and, with the further understanding that the service will be reviewed in December 2007, in order to assess the cost-effectiveness of the service, and at that time a recommendation as to whether or not to continue the service beyond the March 2008 deadline date will be presented to the Transportation Committee and the Committee’s recommendation will then be forwarded to the full Board of Directors for action.

Action by the Board – Resolution
NON-CONSENT CALENDAR

     
 
AYES (6): Chair Brown; Directors Cochran, Grosboll, Middlebrook, Newhouse Segal; President Moylan (Ex Officio)
NOES (0): None
ABSENT (3): Vice Chair Kerns; Directors McGlashan and Pahre
     
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 outlining GGT bus service performance of both District regional routes and MCTD local routes, providing statistics regarding riders per hour, revenue per hour, cost per hour, fare recovery and deficit per passenger for the two types of bus service, for the month of January 2007; 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 February 26, 2007, meeting of MCTD;
  2. Minutes of the December 12, 2006, meeting of MCTD;
  3. Agenda of the February 22, 2007, meeting of the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM);
  4. Agenda of the February 14, 2007, 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.

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 10:25 a.m.
 

Respectfully submitted,

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