October 23, 2008

 

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, October 23, 2008, at 10:10 a.m., Chair Brown presiding.

Committee Members Present (7): Chair Brown; Vice Chair Cochran; Directors Grosboll, Kerns, Newhouse Segal and Pahre; President Moylan (Ex Officio)
Committee Members Absent (1): Director McGlashan

Other Directors Present (5): Directors Boro, Eddie, Hernández, Reilly and Stroeh

Committee of the Whole Members Present (12): Directors Brown, Cochran, Eddie, Grosboll, Hernández, Kerns, Newhouse Segal, Pahre, Reilly and Stroeh; First Vice President Boro; President Moylan

Committee of the Whole Members Absent (7): Directors Dufty, McGlashan, McGoldrick, Sanders, Sandoval and Sobel; Second Vice President Ammiano

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, Bus Division Teri W. Mantony; Deputy General Manager, Ferry Division James P. Swindler; Deputy General Manager, Administration Z. Wayne Johnson; Public Affairs Director Mary C. Currie; 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: None

     
1. Report of the District Advisory Committees
     
  a.

Advisory Committee on Accessibility (ACA)

The agenda for the September 18, 2008, meeting, and the minutes of the July 17, 2008, 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 (BPAC)

There was no meeting of the Bus Passengers Advisory Committee in September 2008; therefore, no meeting materials were furnished to the Transportation Committee.

     
  c.

Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee (FPAC)

The agenda for the September 3, 2008, meeting, and the minutes of the August 6, 2008, 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.

Authorize the Setting of a Public Hearing to Receive Public Comment on Proposed Golden Gate Transit Service Changes and Approve Related Actions

In a memorandum to Committee, Principal Planner Ron Downing, Director of Planning Alan Zahradnik, Deputy General Manager/Bus Division Teri Mantony and General Manager Celia Kupersmith presented staff’s recommendation to set a public hearing on November 20, 2008, to receive public comment on proposed Golden Gate Transit (GGT) service changes. The report stated that staff is proposing that the following service changes be made, effective March 8, 2009:

  1. Redeploy unproductive commute service from Routes 8, 9, 60 and 75 to address overcrowding on other routes; and,
  2. Reconfigure regional basic service on Routes 10 and 80 to improve travel times and service productivity.

In addition, it is proposed that a new guideline of assigning high-capacity buses to trips averaging more than 35 passengers per trip be endorsed, effective immediately. The report included a PowerPoint presentation which summarized the proposed transit service changes. Copies of the staff report, as well as the PowerPoint presentation, are available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Celia Kupersmith introduced staff’s recommendation, noting that as directed by the Board, staff developed a service plan that would reallocate transit service by using cost-neutral strategies, since the budget does not provide for new resources to expand service. She stated that currently, GGT is experiencing ridership growth on certain routes, while experiencing declining ridership on other routes, and that these changes would provide an opportunity to redeploy resources and buses in more productive areas. She stated that staff intends to present these proposals to the public for their review and comment at a series of informational Community Workshops (Workshops), and then to a formal Public Hearing, after which a final proposal will be presented to the Committee and then to Board for final action.

Ms. Kupersmith stated that since many of the changes rely on coordination between regional service and Marin local service, District staff has worked closely with their counterparts at the Marin County Transit District, who have endorsed these proposed changes. She stated that the Workshops are scheduled during the month of November, as follows:

Marin
Wednesday, November 5, 2008, anytime between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
The Whistlestop, Jackson Café Room
930 Tamalpais Avenue
San Rafael, CA

Saturday, November 8, 2008, anytime between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Pickleweed Community Center, Multi-Purpose Room
50 Canal Street
San Rafael, CA

Thursday, November 13, 2008, anytime between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Tiburon Town Hall Council Chambers
1505 Tiburon Boulevard
Tiburon, CA

San Francisco
Thursday, November 6, 2008, anytime between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Board Room, Administration Building, Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza
San Francisco, CA

Sonoma County
Wednesday, November 12, 2008, anytime between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Petaluma Fairgrounds
175 Fairgrounds Drive
Petaluma, CA

She further stated that at these Workshops, staff will work one-on-one with GGT passengers to help them understand the proposed changes and provide personalized transit trip planning. She noted that one of the Workshops will be held on a Saturday in the Canal Area of San Rafael which staff believes will provide an opportunity to spend more time educating GGT bus passengers from that area, who represent a high percentage of passengers on many of the affected bus routes.

Ron Downing provided a PowerPoint presentation regarding the proposed GGT service changes. He stated that ridership trends vary both by service type and by geographic area, with higher ridership growth in commute service from Marin County to San Francisco, compared with commute service from Sonoma County. He stated that this increased ridership has resulted in overloaded buses on high-volume park-and-ride oriented commute routes. In addition, local Marin County ridership has increased significantly on U.S. Highway 101 corridor basic routes such as Routes 70 and 80.

Mr. Downing stated that GGT bus service is provided to the extent that resources allow, and that certain bus trips that do not meet a performance guideline of 20 or more passengers per trip are recommended to be cancelled or combined with other trips. He briefly described the current conditions of GGT regional transit service, as follows:

  • Regional ridership has increased about 7% system-wide over last year, with ridership on high-volume commute routes, such as Routes 4, 24, 27, 54 and 56, increasing as much as 17%;
  • Some commute routes, such as Routes 8, 9, 75 and midday trips on Route 60, have seen declining ridership and are not meeting the performance standard;
  • Local ridership within Marin County on Route 80 is an increasing percentage of overall ridership on GGT, and is currently at 36%;
  • The completion of the U.S. Highway 101 Gap Closure Project, providing a continuous High-Occupancy Vehicle Lane through central Marin County, will provide opportunities to improve long-haul bus service from Sonoma County, Novato and San Rafael to San Francisco;
  • 90% of commute bus routes meet the performance standard of 20 or more passengers per trip;
  • 72 trips (21%) carry 36 or more passengers per bus;
  • 5 to 6 trips per day (2%) carry more passengers than available seats; and,
  • 10 trips (3%) fall well below performance guidelines.

Mr. Downing outlined the commute service strategies, as follows:

  • Assign high-capacity Motor Coach Industries (MCI) type buses based on ridership demand, and on high-volume bus routes which routinely average more than 35 passengers per trip;
  • Identify underperforming bus routes;
  • Redeploy resources and/or vehicles in more productive areas where overcrowding is present; and,
  • Identify opportunities for a bus and driver to do a second trip during peak commute hours.

Mr. Downing described the specific proposals for the following underperforming regional commute bus routes:

  • Combine two afternoon Route 8 trips into one trip;
  • Eliminate Route 9, which currently averages only 3.6 regional passengers per trip, and reallocate those resources to other bus routes with higher demand, such as Route 4;
  • Redesignate early morning Route 60 trips as Route 27, which has a similar route alignment;
  • Eliminate two early afternoon Route 60 trips that average 5 and 8 regional passengers per trip, respectively, and reallocate those resources to other bus routes with higher demand, such as Routes 24 and 27;
  • Eliminate two low-productivity, non-peak Route 75 trips, and reallocate those resources to other bus routes with higher demand, such as Route 54.

Mr. Downing also described specific proposals for basic service, as follows:

  • Since the regional Route 80 is heavily used by local riders, resulting in excessive travel times, it is proposed to reconfigure Route 80 as a new express Route 101 service during weekdays, with Marin County stops at Novato and San Rafael only;
  • Provide Marin Local Route 71 service to serve all local stops in Marin County;
  • Move Route 10 Basic Service from unproductive Geary Boulevard corridor, and provide weekday peak period Route 92 commute shuttle service between Sausalito, the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza and Geary Boulevard that would operate in both directions;
  • Coordinate the modified Route 10 service with San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) with respect to its Transit Effectiveness Project, a proposal to improve MUNI’s reliability, reduce travel delays, and update routes to better meet current and projected travel patterns throughout San Francisco; and,
  • Extend Route 10 to the Manzanita park and ride lot to offer all-day service from that location.

Mr. Downing stated that following the Workshops and the Public Hearing, staff will present a recommendation to both the Committee and Board for approval of proposed service changes, and further stated that any approved changes will be implemented on March 8, 2009.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

  • Director Grosboll made the following inquiries:
    • He inquired as to whether the overloaded buses have resulted in commuters being left behind at bus stops. In response, Mr. Downing stated that when an overloaded bus pulls up to a stop, some commuters choose not to get on the bus, while other board the bus as standees, a situation that GGT would like to avoid when possible.
    • He inquired as to the cost of a new MCI-type bus, and whether the District has a current order in progress. In response, Teri Mantony stated that a new MCI-type bus would cost approximately $580,000. Ms. Mantony also stated that staff is currently developing specifications for the purchase of 13 MCI-type buses, with an option to purchase 17 additional buses.
    • He inquired as to whether any of the routes proposed for elimination would affect elderly or passengers with disabilities. In response, Mr. Downing stated that the routes proposed for elimination are commute routes, which are not particularly used by the elderly or passengers with disabilities.
    • He inquired as to why ridership has declined so significantly in Tiburon. In response, Mr. Downing explained that many Tiburon residents are retired and aging in place, and are no longer commuting to jobs in San Francisco. In addition, due to the high cost of housing, new and younger working residents are not moving into the area. Ms. Kupersmith added that GGT’s declining ridership from the Tiburon Peninsula is mirrored by declining ridership on the ferry service from Tiburon to San Francisco.
  • Director Kerns inquired regarding MCI-type buses. In response, Ms. Kupersmith explained that these buses are similar to Greyhound buses, with reclining seats and extra leg room. Mr. Downing stated that the high-capacity, 57-passenger MCI-type buses are in high demand by passengers because of the comfort level. Because of the limited number of MCI-type buses in the GGT fleet, a new guideline is being proposed to assign these buses only to trips averaging more than 35 passengers.
  • Director Newhouse Segal made the following comments and inquiries:
    • She suggested that the Public Hearing be held in the evening at a location in Marin County in order to make it more convenient for the affected commuters to attend. In response, Ms. Kupersmith suggested that the Committee take action today on setting a public hearing, without specifying the date, time and location, in order for staff to research the possibility of holding an evening public hearing.
  • Director Boro made the following comments and inquiries:
    • He inquired as to the type of outreach to the passengers on the affected bus routes. In response, Mr. Downing stated that bilingual posters will be prominently displayed onboard the buses and at key bus stops in the Golden Gate Transit service area. Ms. Kupersmith stated that route-specific flyers will also be handed out to passengers on the affected bus routes.
    • He stated that, in response to Director Newhouse Segal’s comment, it would be a good idea to consult with Director McGlashan before the Board decides on whether or not to hold a nighttime public hearing,
  • Director Cochran inquired as to whether alternative transit service will be available to passengers on affected routes that are proposed to be eliminated or reduced. In response, Mr. Downing stated that staff has identified service alternatives for all affected locations, except for a small portion of Route 9 in the Tiburon hills.
  • Director Pahre inquired as to whether it would be prudent to undertake wheelchair-lift retrofits on MCI buses potentially available from other transit agencies, in order to increase the number of these high-capacity buses in the GGT fleet. In response, Mr. Downing explained that wheelchair lifts are factory-installed on MCI buses when they are ordered, and that it would be costly and time-consuming to retrofit existing buses.
  • Director Reilly inquired as to the number of passengers that would be affected by changes in peak-period Route 10 service. In response, Mr. Downing stated that those passengers would have a one-for-one replacement with proposed Route 92 service.

In response to comments made by Directors Newhouse Segal and Boro regarding the location and time of the Public Hearing, Ms. Kupersmith suggested that the Committee bring forward to the Board at its meeting of October 24, 2008, the recommendation originally presented by staff. She further stated the Board, at that time, can discuss the final date, time and location of the Public Hearing after consulting with the other Directors present, especially Director McGlashan, as the proposed transit changes mostly impact his district.

Following discussion by the Committee, a motion was made and seconded by Directors NEWHOUSE SEGAL/REILLY to forward the following recommendation to the Board of Directors for its consideration:

RECOMMENDATION

The Transportation Committee recommends that the Board of Directors authorize the setting of a public hearing on Thursday, November 20, 2008, at 9:30 a.m., in the Board Room, Administration Building, Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza, San Francisco, CA, to receive public comment on a proposal to: (1) Redeploy unproductive commute service from Routes 8, 9, 60 and 75 to address overcrowding on other routes; and, (2) Reconfigure regional basic service on Routes 10 and 80 to improve travel times and service productivity; and, approve the guideline of assigning high-capacity buses to trips averaging more than 35 passengers per trip, effective immediately.

Action by the Board at its meeting of October 24, 2008 – Resolution
NON-CONSENT CALENDAR

AYES (12): Directors Brown, Cochran, Eddie, Grosboll, Hernández, Kerns, Newhouse Segal, Pahre, Reilly and Stroeh; First Vice President Boro; 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 (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, 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 months of August 2008; 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, under the five-year Agreement 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. Marin Transit Agenda for September 15, 2008;
  2. Marin Transit Minutes of August 18, 2008;
  3. Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) Agenda for September 25, 2008;
  4. TAM Agenda for July 24, 2008;
  5. TAM Minutes of July 24, 2008;
  6. TAM Executive Committee Agenda for Special Meeting of September 25, 2008;
  7. TAM Executive Committee Minutes of Special Meeting of September 25, 2008;
  8. TAM Executive Committee Agenda for September 8, 2008;
  9. TAM Executive Committee Minutes of September 8, 2008;
  10. TAM Executive Committee Agenda for July 14, 2008; and,
  11. TAM Executive Committee Minutes of July 14, 2008.

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 continues to develop a very positive working relationship with David Rzepinski, the new General Manager of Marin Transit, and that the staffs of both agencies are working closely on several initiatives.

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 9:50 a.m.

     

Respectfully submitted,

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