September 14, 2007
(For Board: September 28, 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, September 14, 2007, at 10:00 a.m., Acting Chair Cochran presiding.

Committee Members Present (8): Vice Chair Cochran; Directors Grosboll, Kerns, McGlashan, Middlebrook, Newhouse Segal and Pahre; President Moylan (Ex Officio)
Committee Members Absent (1): Chair Brown;
Other Directors Present (5): Directors Boro, Eddie and Stroeh

Committee of the Whole Members Present (13): Directors Cochran, Eddie, Grosboll, Kerns, McGlashan, Middlebrook, Newhouse Segal, Pahre, Reilly, Sanders, and Stroeh; First Vice President Boro; President Moylan
Committee of the Whole Members Absent (6): Directors Brown, Dufty, Hernández, McGoldrick and Sandoval; Second Vice President Ammiano

Staff Present: General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith; Auditor-Controller Joseph M. Wire; Secretary of the District Janet S. Tarantino; Attorney David J. Miller; 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; Public Affairs Director Mary C. Currie; Marketing and Communications Director Kellee Hopper; Director of Risk Management and Safety William Stafford; Director of Planning Alan R. Zahradnik; Executive Assistant to the General Manager Amorette Ko; Assistant Clerk of the Board Karen B. Engbretson

Visitors Present: None

       
1. Report of the District Advisory Committees
       
  a.

Advisory Committee on Accessibility (ACA)

A Notice of Cancellation for the August meeting of the Advisory Committee on Accessibility was furnished to the Transportation Committee. A copy is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

       
  b.

Bus Passengers Advisory Committee

A Notice of Cancellation for the August meeting of the Bus Passengers Advisory Committee was furnished to the Transportation Committee. A copy is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

       
  c.

Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee

A Notice of Cancellation for the August meeting of the Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee was furnished to the Transportation Committee. A copy is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

Action by the Board – None Required

       
2.

Update on Full Implementation of TransLink® on All District Transit Services

General Manager Celia Kupersmith, Director of Planning Alan Zahradnik and Marketing and Communications Director Kellee Hopper provided an update regarding the full implementation of TransLink® (TransLink) on all Golden Gate Transit (GGT) bus and ferry transit services. The report stated that TransLink, the regional automatic fare collection program developed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), is designed as a convenient way for passengers to travel on various San Francisco Bay Area transit systems using a single fare card.

The report provided background of the TransLink program, noting that the system reached revenue-ready status on November 17, 2006, at which time the District initiated the Pre-Launch phase of TransLink implementation. As part of the Pre-Launch phase, a number of TransLink cards were distributed to interested bus and ferry customers who agreed to participate in a managed test of the system in the live transit operating environment. These initial TransLink customers were asked to use the system and report any problems to TransLink Customer Service. The report also stated that over the past several months, following significant coverage in the television, radio and print media, over 2,000 TransLink cards were distributed and an average of 4,000 daily bus and ferry rides were paid using TransLink.

The report further stated that the majority of feedback from TransLink customers has been positive, with over 80 percent of riders encountering very few problems, or none at all. Although there were some technical problems with card readers, add-value machines and ticket office terminals during the first seven months of the Pre-Launch phase, those problems have now been addressed, and TransLink equipment is performing at or above contract standards.


The report noted that at MTC’s request, the District will undertake the Hard Launch on Monday, September 17, 2007, which will entail a full rollout of TransLink on all District bus and ferry systems. In addition, on that day Alameda-Contra Costa Transit (AC Transit) will also participate in the Hard Launch on all of its buses. It is anticipated that in the near future, TransLink will become the predominant method of fare payment by regular customers and will replace existing transbay transit ticket book programs, in a manner similar to FasTrak® on the Golden Gate Bridge. The report also noted that after additional monitoring of TransLink, staff will present a recommendation to the Committee in January 2008 as to whether the District should continue selling paper tickets for regional bus and ferry services after July 1, 2008.

At the meeting, Alan Zahradnik reported that after ten months’ experience working with TransLink on all of the District’s transit services, the system has been proven to work reliably. He stated that TransLink will be promoted to all of the District’s customers, inviting them to get their TransLink cards and begin using the system.

Kellee Hopper described all of the marketing efforts being undertaken by the District for the Hard Launch of the TransLink system. She stated that very early in the morning, prior to this meeting of the Committee, the TransLink marketing team had provided hot breakfast at all of the District’s four bus facilities in San Francisco, San Rafael, Novato and Santa Rosa for GGT Bus Operators, as well as operating and maintenance crews, announcing the Hard Launch of TransLink system, answering any questions about TransLink, acknowledging all the hard work of GGT employees during the Pre-Launch period and distributing various TransLink marketing materials. (These materials were also distributed to the Board of Directors.)

Ms. Hopper stated that on September 17, 2007, the District’s strategic marketing plan will begin, with a press conference at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. She stated that the goal of the marketing outreach will be to attract additional customers to use TransLink, particularly those customers that currently use Ride Value discount ticket books. She also stated that marketing efforts will also educate GGT customers about the benefits of using TransLink, such as the Autoload feature, which will allow customers to add value to their cards automatically from a bank account or credit card. In addition, TransLink customers will also be able to use their employers’ Commuter Check program to add value to their cards.

Ms. Hopper also described the specific components of the strategic marketing plan, noting that through the District’s web site, www.goldengate.org, TransLink cards will be offered free of charge to the first 1,000 people who fill out a brief online survey. In addition, during the next few weeks, teams of GGT staff will be stationed at various high traffic bus stops and loading areas to reach potential TransLink customers, hand out free cards and answer any questions they may have about the system. She further stated that starting October 1, 2007, a print and media campaign will commence, with ads on cable television, on English and Spanish radio stations and in local newspapers.

Celia Kupersmith provided additional details regarding the Hard Launch of TransLink, noting that both GGT and AC Transit will have TransLink fully implemented across their systems and will be collaborating on a joint marketing effort over the next several weeks. Ms. Kupersmith described the TransLink Consortium, which manages the TransLink program and is composed of representatives from MTC and the major transit agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area. She stated that the Consortium is beginning to look to the future and examine the balance of focus on bringing in the small transit operators throughout the region over time, versus putting those same resources to work on enhancing and improving the system once it is fully implemented on the region’s large operations. Ms. Kupersmith provided the current timeline for TransLink implementation on other Bay Area transit agencies, noting that Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), as well as Caltrain, will initiate the rollout of TransLink in March 2008. She also stated that San Mateo County Transit (SamTrans) and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) will begin implementation of TransLink in 2009.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

  • Director Middlebrook inquired regarding the TransLink USB flash drives handed out to the Committee members. In response, Ms. Hopper explained that each GGT Bus Operator was given one of the USB flash drives to give them easy access to technical TransLink information. The Bus Operators will be able to access the TransLink information at computer stations at GGT’s bus facilities at their convenience.
  • Director Grosboll made the following comments and inquiries:
    • He inquired as to the primary advantages of using TransLink. In response, Ms. Hopper described the convenience of using TransLink cards, noting that: 1) TransLink will allow customers the convenience of using a single fare card instead of purchasing multiple fare media for all the various systems in operation in the Bay Area; 2) All frequent rider discounts that currently apply to bus and ferry fares will also apply to TransLink cards; and, 3) Although Ride Value discount tickets have expiration dates, the fares loaded onto TransLink cards do not expire.
    • He inquired as to the cost of individual TransLink cards once the promotional period is over, and Ms. Hopper stated that the cards will cost $5 each, if the Autoload feature is not used, and will be sold at various retail vendors throughout the Bay Area.
  • Director Reilly made the following comments and inquiries:
    • She inquired regarding the rollout of TransLink on other Bay Area transit systems, including BART and Muni. In response, Ms. Kupersmith stated that BART and Muni, as well as Caltrain, will emulate the District’s implementation program, with a Pre-Launch period followed by a Hard Launch in March 2008 once the system proves to be reliable. She noted that SamTrans and VTA will begin the Pre-Launch of TransLink in 2009.
    • She inquired as to how much money has been spent to date on the TransLink implementation. In response, Ms. Kupersmith stated that approximately $150 million has been spent on the project to date.
    • She inquired as to how far behind schedule the project is from full implementation on all Bay Area transit systems. In response, Ms. Kupersmith stated that if one counts from the initial testing phase, the TransLink implementation is approximately two years behind schedule. Ms. Kupersmith provided details about recent corporate changes at ERG, the company that is providing the TransLink equipment. She noted that ERG has substantially improved its commitment to TransLink and has gained valuable experience with TransLink through the Pre-Launch phase, giving the Consortium reason to believe that future rollouts of TransLink will move quicker.

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 (Marin Transit) 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 Marin Transit local routes, for the month of July 2007; and,
  2. A spreadsheet from the Auditor-Controller outlining the history of payments made to date by Marin Transit to the District for intra-county bus transit services in Marin County.

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 August 20, 2007, meeting of Marin Transit;
  2. Minutes of July 16, 2007, meeting of Marin Transit;
  3. Minutes of June 18, 2007, meeting of Marin Transit;

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, Celia Kupersmith reported that Marin Transit is working with a consultant to develop a new strategic marketing plan for its Marin local bus service.

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 9:30 a.m.

       

 

 

Respectfully submitted,
/s/ Gerald D. Cochran, Acting Chair
Transportation Committee