June 7, 2007
(For Board: June 22, 2007)

 

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, June 7, 2007, at 10:00 a.m., Chair Brown presiding.

Committee Members Present (8): Chair Brown; Vice Chair Kerns; Directors Cochran, Grosboll, McGlashan, Newhouse Segal and Pahre; President Moylan (Ex Officio)
Committee Members Absent (1): Director Middlebrook
Other Directors Present (3): Directors Eddie, Reilly and Stroeh

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

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; Division Deputy General Manager/Bus Division Susan C. Chiaroni; Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Teri W. Mantony; Public Affairs Director Mary C. Currie; Information Systems Director Robert Haar; Risk Management and Safety Director William Stafford; Director of Planning Alan R. Zahradnik; Terminal Superintendent and Acting Deputy General Manager/Ferry Division Rebecca Wessling; Capital and Grant Programs Manager Gayle Prior; 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; Teri Shore, Friends of the Earth

     
1.
Report of the District Advisory Committees
     
  a.

Advisory Committee on Accessibility (ACA)

The agenda for the May 17, 2007, meeting, and the minutes of the April 19, 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

There was no meeting of the Bus Passengers Advisory Committee in May 2007; therefore, no meeting materials were furnished to the Transportation Committee.

     
  c.

Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee

The agenda for the May 2, 2007, meeting, and the minutes of the April 4, 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.

Approve a Demonstration Project for Two Peak-Period Ferry Feeder Bus Routes Serving the Larkspur Ferry Terminal

In a memorandum to Committee, Principal Planner Ron Downing, Director of Planning Alan Zahradnik, Deputy General Manager/Bus Division Susan Chiaroni and General Manager Celia Kupersmith provided staff’s recommendation to approve a demonstration project to operate two peak-period ferry feeder bus routes to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal (LFT). The report stated that staff proposes to take advantage of a unique funding opportunity available through the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) in order to support reinstitution of limited ferry feeder bus service to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal (LFT). The reinstitution of ferry feeder bus service has been identified by staff as one of several strategies to address current parking demands at the LFT.

The report stated that the BAAQMD’s Transportation Fund for Clean Air (TFCA) grant program provides funds to public agencies to implement cost-effective projects that reduce motor vehicle emissions, including shuttle/feeder bus service. In a separate action presented to the June 7, 2007, meeting of the Finance-Auditing Committee, staff is recommending that a TFCA grant application be filed with BAAQMD for a small-scale demonstration project to reinstitute limited ferry feeder bus service on two routes to the LFT for a two-year period. It is anticipated that the District will receive notification of the funding in September 2007, with the demonstration shuttle services proposed to begin in December 2007.

The report also stated that ferry feeder bus service to the LFT was provided on nine routes until 2003, when it was discontinued because of low ridership and financial constraints. Since 2003, Larkspur ferry ridership has been growing at approximately 5 percent per year. As a result of that growth, parking is now constrained at the LFT, and future ridership growth potential could be adversely affected.

The report described the two proposed ferry feeder bus routes, for which only peak-period service would be offered, with service meeting three morning ferry departures and four afternoon arrivals. The first proposed route, from Fairfax along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. to the LFT, replicates an earlier feeder route that was the most productive of all the ferry feeder routes. The second proposed route would begin in Novato, travel along the U.S. Highway 101 corridor serving selected bus pad stops, and serve the San Rafael Transit Center (SRTC).

The report further stated that staff recommends that a demonstration project for these two peak-period ferry feeder bus routes be approved, subject to approval of grant funding, with the understanding that the proposed service must be self-sustaining by means of fares and grants. The report noted that at the end of the two-year grant-funded demonstration period, staff will evaluate the service and provide the Board of Directors with options for continuing, modifying or discontinuing the ferry feeder bus routes if further grant funds cannot be found. A copy of the report is available from the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Alan Zahradnik summarized the staff report, describing the current overcrowding of the parking lot at the LFT. He noted that there is a clear need to find ways for ferry passengers to access the LFT other than by using their personal vehicles. He emphasized that the key point of this demonstration project is to attract new ferry passengers.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

  • Director Reilly inquired as to how many ferry passengers used the nine ferry feeder bus routes in the past. In response, Mr. Zahradnik stated that in the past, up to 20 percent of ferry commuters used ferry feeder buses to access the LFT, but that usage declined due to traffic-related reliability issues. He further stated that by 2003, ferry feeder buses were carrying about 10 percent of ferry passengers, representing approximately 100 passengers per day on all nine routes. He noted that in order to remain self-sustaining, the two proposed ferry feeder bus routes would need to carry at least 100 passengers per day.
  • Director Kerns inquired as to how many buses would be used for the two proposed ferry feeder bus routes. In response, Mr. Zahradnik stated that a total of six buses and six drivers would be needed to implement this service.
  • Director Grosboll made the following comments and inquiries:
    • He inquired as to whether the District had the option of requesting additional TFCA grant funds to operate additional ferry feeder bus routes. In response, Mr. Zahradnik stated that the main issue is sustainability, and that if more routes are added, the District may run the risk of exceeding its financial ability to continue the routes in case the TFCA grant funds are no longer available. Celia Kupersmith elaborated that there is a total of $1.5 million in available TFCA grant funds, but that District staff purposely did not request the full amount in order to have higher possible success with a small-scale demonstration project.
    • He inquired as to staff’s third choice for reinstituting a ferry feeder route for this demonstration project, and Mr. Zahradnik replied that staff had considered reinstituting Route No. 25 through downtown San Rafael to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.
    • He inquired as to the deadline for the TFCA grant application and Mr. Zahradnik replied that the application deadline is June 29, 2007.
    • He commented that expanding ferry feeder service to the LFT would be highly desirable for the District, in terms of improving air quality, solving parking problems, providing better bus service and enhancing environmental sustainability. In response, Ms. Kupersmith provided a brief overview of staff’s efforts to address the parking constraints at the LFT, and described the District’s past experience with ferry feeder bus routes.
  • Director McGlashan made the following comments and inquiries:
    • He inquired as to whether District staff has explored the option of charging for parking at the LFT, and using that revenue to subsidize ferry feeder bus routes. In response, Ms. Kupersmith answered in the affirmative, noting that general analysis has shown that instituting parking fees would require significant infrastructure. She further stated that several years ago staff determined that it would be more feasible to increase revenue from ferry fares rather than assuming the costs associated with parking fee collection. She noted that charging for parking remains one of the options for addressing the parking constraints at the LFT.
    • He commented that it is expensive to maintain free, subsidized parking at the LFT, and it is important to align the economic signal with the product of ferry service that the District is providing. He stated that there is a growing philosophy in Marin County that free outdoor parking lots are a luxury when there such a scarcity of good land in the County. He noted that the County of Marin is recognizing that the idea of making it convenient to drive personal vehicles quickly and freely is actually becoming obsolete. He emphasized that the District should also send the proper signal of the real cost to society of driving large personal vehicles to the LFT and keeping these vehicles parked there all day long. Ms. Kupersmith concurred with Director McGlashan, noting that such a philosophy is one of the reasons that staff is pursuing the demonstration project for the ferry feeder bus routes. She noted that surveys of ferry passengers have indicated a growing awareness of environmental issues and more interest in using ferry feeder bus routes.
    • He noted that the District has an excellent opportunity during this two-year demonstration period to aggressively market the ferry feeder bus routes and educate the ferry passengers that if parking fees were instituted at the LFT, those fees could be used to expand ferry feeder bus routes. He stated that he believes that enhanced outreach and marketing could fulfill the District’s desire for high ridership and self-sustainability for these ferry feeder bus routes. Ms. Kupersmith noted that staff will be undertaking a formal study of solutions for parking at the LFT in the next fiscal year, which study will include the link between parking fees and subsidizing ferry feeder bus routes.
  • Director Newhouse Segal expressed her support for the idea of using disincentives for driving to the LFT.
  • Ms. Kupersmith commended Director of Planning Alan Zahradnik and Capital and Grant Programs Manager Gayle Prior for their hard work on pursuing the TFCA grant opportunity for this demonstration project.

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

RECOMMENDATION

The Transportation Committee recommends that the Board of Directors approve a two-year demonstration project to operate two peak-period ferry feeder bus routes serving the Larkspur Ferry Terminal (LFT), with the service meeting three morning ferry departures and four afternoon ferry arrivals from Fairfax/Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and from Novato/San Rafael Transit Center, effective December 2007; subject to the approval of grant funding and with the understanding that the proposed service must be self-sustaining by means of fares and grants.

Action by the Board – Resolution
NON-CONSENT CALENDAR

AYES (11): Directors Brown, Cochran, Eddie, Grosboll, Kerns, McGlashan, Newhouse Segal, Pahre, Reilly and Stroeh; President Moylan
NOES (0): None

     
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 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 April 2007; and,
  2. A spreadsheet from the Auditor-Controller outlining the history of payments made to date by the 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 May 22, 2007, meeting of MCTD;
  2. Minutes of April 16, 2007, meeting of MCTD;
  3. Agenda of the May 5, 2007, meeting of the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM);
  4. Agenda of the May 24, 2007, meeting of TAM;
  5. Minutes of the April 26, 2007, meeting of TAM;
  6. Agenda of the May 9, 2007, meeting of the TAM Executive Committee; and,
  7. Minutes of the April 11, 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.

At the meeting, Ms. Kupersmith announced that the MCTD had recently changed its name to “Marin Transit.”

Action by the Board – None Required

     
4.

Public Comment

Teri Shore provided a handout entitled, “New Golden Gate High-Speed Ferry – Build it Clean,” and expressed the concerns of the Bay Area Clean Air Task Force regarding the environmental standards for the new high-speed passenger ferry to be purchased by the District.

In response to the public comment, Ms. Kupersmith announced that on July 13, 2007, with the concurrence of the Board President to bypass the regular Committee process for these types of discussions, Director Sandoval will initiate public discussions of environmental standards for the new high-speed passenger ferry with the full Board of Directors. She noted that this matter will be discussed as a Special Order of Business at the July 13, 2007, meeting of the Board of Directors. She further noted that Director Sandoval has been working with the Bay Area Clean Air Task Force and has invited several experts to provide testimony on the topic.

     
5.

Adjournment

All business having been concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 10:35 a.m.

     

Respectfully submitted,

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