February 11, 2010

 

REPORT OF THE FINANCE-AUDITING COMMITTEE/
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

 

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

Honorable Members:

A meeting of the Finance-Auditing Committee/Committee of the Whole was held in the Board Room, Administration Building, Toll Plaza, San Francisco, California, on Thursday, February 11, 2010, at 10:40 a.m., Chair Stroeh presiding.

Committee Members Present (9): Chair Stroeh; Vice Chair Pahre; Directors Cochran, Eddie, Elsbernd, Grosboll, Moylan and Sobel; President Boro (Ex Officio)
Committee Members Absent (0): None
Other Directors Present (4): Director Kerns, Newhouse Segal, Reilly and Snyder

Committee of the Whole Members Present (13): Directors Cochran, Elsbernd, Grosboll, Kerns, Moylan, Newhouse Segal, Pahre, Snyder, Sobel and Stroeh; Second Vice President Eddie; First Vice President Reilly; President Boro

Committee of the Whole Members Absent (6): Directors Brown, Campos, Chu, Dufty, McGlashan and Sanders

Staff Present: General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith; District Engineer Denis 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 Transit Division Teri W. Mantony; Deputy General Manager/Ferry Transit Division James P. Swindler; Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Z.W Johnson; Planning Director Alan R. Zahradnik; Public Affairs Director Mary C. Currie; Director of Marketing and Communications Kellee Hopper; Executive Assistant to the General Manager Amorette Ko; Assistant Clerk of the Board Patsy Whala

Visitors Present: None

 

   
1.

Approve Implementation of a Public Review Process Relative to a Proposal to Increase Carpool and Multi-Axle Vehicle Tolls

In a memorandum to Committee, Auditor-Controller Joseph Wire and General Manager Celia Kupersmith reported on staff’s recommendation to authorize undertaking the public review process relative to a proposal to increase carpool and multi-axle vehicle tolls; and, approve all related actions, as outlined in the staff report.

The report stated that the District has identified a $132 million projected deficit over the next five years. The District created a Financial Planning Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee) in May 2009, for the purpose of identifying possible solutions to address the projected deficit. The Advisory Committee drafted and recommended approval of FY 09/10 Financial Plan for Achieving Long-Term Financial Stability (Plan) which laid out specific initiatives that, once implemented, will help restore the District to stable financial footing. The Board of Directors approved said Plan (attached) at its meeting of October 30, 2009.

T he report also stated that Phase I of the Plan includes Initiative No. 23, which calls for increasing certain special-category toll rates, specifically for carpools and multi-axle vehicles. The proposed carpool rate will allow carpools and clean air vehicles to financially support District operations and maintenance while generating a projected $1.3 million in additional annual toll revenues in FY 10/11 and maintaining a toll incentive for carpools and clean air vehicles.

The report further stated that the proposed multi-axle rate will eliminate multi-axle vehicle toll disparities between the Golden Gate Bridge and California state-owned bridges, while generating additional projected toll revenues of approximately $600,000.00 in FY 11/12 and $1.2 million in annual toll revenues upon full implementation in FY 12/13. The options under consideration by the District to change existing tolls for the Golden Gate Bridge do not require federal approval; and, therefore exempt from the National Environmental Protection Act process. The California Environmental Quality Act statutorily exempts the District’s proposal to modify existing tolls on the Golden Gate Bridge to help restore the District to stable financial footing. A copy of the report is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Mr. Wire summarized the staff report and stated that there are three components of the public review process: the Public Open House; the Public Hearing; and, the Public Information Outreach. Mr. Wire noted that the recommendation includes approval to present the proposed carpool and multi-axle vehicle toll increases at the Public Open House and Public Hearing. Mr. Wire also stated that staff recommends the proposed increase for carpool and multi-axle vehicle tolls are effective July 1, 2010, which is consistent with recent action taken by the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) for the seven state-owned bridges in the Bay Area.

Discussion ensued, including the following comments and inquiries:

  • Director Kerns inquired regarding the comparison of the District’s recommended action for carpool tolls at of the recent action taken for State-owned bridges. In response, Mr. Wire stated that the District is making an effort to equate its methodology to that of BATA by establishing a carpool toll rate of 50% of the cash toll. Mr. Wire noted that the District’s tolls will be slightly different than the seven state-owned bridges because the tolls are different.
  • Director Sobel commented that the proposed Public Open House is scheduled in Marin County, which may not be convenient for carpoolers from Sonoma County, and inquired as to whether demographic data is available to determine the percentage of split between carpoolers from Marin County and Sonoma County. In response, Mr. Wire answered in the negative. Ms. Kupersmith stated that the location of the Public Open House was selected based upon its northern location, the ease for travelling on and off the freeway, the amount of free parking, and the fact that carpoolers will have already passed the usual traffic congestion at Central San Rafael.
  • Director Pahre commented that, since the carpoolers will be required to obtain a FasTrak® transponder, the District will be able to track demographic data from carpoolers as they go through the toll lanes.
  • Director Elsbernd inquired as to the District’s outreach for patrons that will not be able to attend the Public Open House who use carpools or own multi-axle vehicles. In response, Ms. Hopper acknowledged that there are two distinct groups to outreach: Carpool and Multi-Axle Vehicle Users. Ms. Hopper stated that the District will provide handouts in the toll lanes, and to rental car and trucking companies, as well as utilize the District’s web site.
  • Director Reilly inquired as to the reason why the District does not have a dedicated carpool lane. In response, Mr. Witt stated that there is not enough traffic to justify a dedicated carpool lane. Mr. Witt also stated that carpoolers want to be in lanes one or two so that they can exit onto Merchant Road to access 25th Avenue or onto Park Presidio to access 19th Avenue.
  • Director Grosboll made the following comments and inquiries:
    • He inquired as to whether the public will view the proposed carpool toll as a 60% increase, since the District provides a $1.00 discount to FasTrak® users. In response, Ms. Kupersmith provided the details of Board policy regarding tolls and stated that the Bridge toll is $6.00 and carpoolers will be given a 50% discount of the cash toll.
    • He inquired as to BATA’s procedures to manage the dedicated carpool lanes on the seven state-owned bridges. In response, Mr. Wire stated that there is a dedicated carpool lane on all these bridges, and that BATA relies on the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to enforce the required three-person per vehicle regulation. Mr. Wire noted that, since there is no software to determine the amount of occupants in a vehicle, the District requires that carpoolers proceed through a “manned” lane to allocate the carpool discount.
    • He stated that the public needs to be made aware that they will not get a carpool discount if they go through the dedicated FasTrak® only lanes at the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza.
    • He commented that, at the Public Open House, District staff should provide information regarding FasTrak®, and staff agreed.
  • President Boro inquired as to whether carpoolers will be required to go through a “manned” lane on the seven state-owned bridges. In response, Mr. Wire stated that, under the new policy, carpoolers will still use the dedicated carpool-only lanes, but will be required to obtain a FasTrak® transponder which will charge his/her account with the discounted toll. Mr. Wire noted that BATA will rely on the CHP to enforce the three-person per vehicle regulation.
  • Director Snyder inquired as to whether there is data regarding the elasticity of carpool demand to predict if the number of carpools will decrease as a result of the toll. In response, Mr. Wire stated that the District has looked at studies whether or not carpooling has been an advantage to individuals from the perspective of parking in San Francisco, the time savings of going through a dedicated FasTrak® lane or the cost savings from not paying a toll. Mr. Wire also stated that, although there is no time savings on the Golden Gate Bridge, there is significant cost savings, which could appear that the elasticity would not be very high. In addition, Mr. Zahradnik stated that staff has looked at carpool traffic relative to toll increases and have found that as the toll goes up and the value of the carpool goes up, that there has been very little correlation between that savings and the use of the carpool, which leads staff to believe that it is in-elastic market.

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

RECOMMENDATION

The Finance-Auditing Committee recommends that the Board of Directors approve actions relative to the implementation of a public review process for a proposed carpool and multi-axle vehicle toll increase, as follows:

  a.

Authorize undertaking the public review process associated with a proposal to increase carpool and multi-axle vehicle tolls to include conducting an informational Open House and setting a Public Hearing for the purpose of providing information, answering questions and receiving input from the public about the proposal, as follows:

Open House
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Embassy Suites
San Rafael, CA

Public Hearing
Friday, May 14, 2010
9:30 a.m.
Board Room, Administration Building
Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza Building
San Francisco, CA; and,

     
  b.

Authorize staff to present at the Open House information on a proposal to increase carpool and multi-axle vehicle tolls, an initiative included in the FY 09/10 Financial Plan for Achieving Long-Term Financial Stability, that will result in a carpool toll equal to 50% of the cash toll ($3.00), and a 3+ axle vehicle toll of $5.00 per axle for FasTrak® customers and $6.00 per axle for cash toll customers, to be capped at 7 axles; with the carpool toll to be implemented on July 1, 2010, and half of the multi-axle toll increase to occur on July 1, 2011, and the other half of the increase to occur on July 1, 2012.

Action by the Board at its meeting of January 12, 2010 – Resolution
NON-CONSENT CALENDAR

   
 
AYES (13): Directors Cochran, Elsbernd, Grosboll, Kerns, Moylan, Newhouse Segal, Pahre, Snyder, Sobel and Stroeh; Second Vice President Eddie; First Vice President Reilly; President Boro
NOES (0): None
   
2.

Authorize Execution of Change Order No. 6 to Contract No. 2006-B-19, Replacement of FasTrak® Lane And Plaza/Host Equipment

In a memorandum to Committee, Auditor-Controller Joseph M. Wire and General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith reported on staff’s recommendation to authorize the execution of Change Order No. 6 to Contract No. 2006-B-19, Replacement of FasTrak® Lane and Plaza/Host Equipment, with The Revenue Markets, Inc., dba TRMI Systems Integration (TRMI), to increase the accuracy and flexibility of the FasTrak® toll collection system.

The report stated that the District awarded Contract No. 2006-B-19, TRMI in July 2006, and is now in the second year of a three-year software maintenance period of the Contract. There have been advances in the accuracy of the optical character recognition (OCR) software used to identify license plates of toll violators since the District’s acceptance of the system in June 2008. The District is desirous of increasing the accuracy and flexibility of the FasTrak® toll collection system.

The report also stated that incorporating upgraded OCR software into the toll collection system will improve accuracy and reduce the number of violations that require manual review, as well as enable more flexible management of the toll collection system and updates to toll rates in more categories. TRMI submitted to the District a proposal for the upgrade, and the District’s technical consultant has reviewed TRMI’s proposal and finds the prices quoted to be fair and reasonable. The cost for TRMI to implement Change Order No. 6 to Contract No. 2006-B-19 shall not exceed $135,000.00, and requisite funds are available in the FY 09/10 Bridge Division Operating Budget. A copy of the report is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

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

RECOMMENDATION

The Finance-Auditing Committee recommends that the Board of Directors authorize the execution of Change Order No. 6 to Contract No. 2006-B-19, Replacement of FasTrak® Lane and Plaza/Host Equipment, with The Revenue Markets, Inc., dba TRMI Systems Integration, in the amount of $135,000.00, to increase the accuracy and flexibility of the FasTrak® toll collection system; with the understanding that requisite funds are available in the FY 09/10 Bridge Division Operating Budget.

Action by the Board at its meeting of January 12, 2010 – Resolution
NON-CONSENT CALENDAR

AYES (13): Directors Cochran, Elsbernd, Grosboll, Kerns, Moylan, Newhouse Segal, Pahre, Snyder, Sobel and Stroeh; Second Vice President Eddie; First Vice President Reilly; President Boro
NOES (0): None

   
3.

Public Comment

There was no public comment.

   
4.

Adjournment

All business having been concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 11:10 a.m.

   

 

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ J Dietrich Stroeh, Chair
Finance-Auditing Committee

 

Attachment: FY 09/10 Financial Plan for Achieving Long-Term Financial Stability