April 7, 2011

 

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, CA, on Thursday, April 7, 2011, at 10:20 a.m., Chair Stroeh presiding.

Committee Members Present (6): Chair Stroeh; Directors Boro, Cochran, Grosboll, Moylan and Sobel
Committee Members Absent (3): Directors Elsbernd; Vice Chair Pahre; President Reilly (Ex Officio)
Other Directors Present (4): Directors Eddie, Rabbitt, Renée and Snyder

Committee of the Whole Members Present (10): Directors Boro, Cochran, Grosboll, Moylan, Rabbitt, Renée, Snyder, Sobel and Stroeh; First Vice President Eddie
Committee of the Whole Members Absent (8): Directors Brown, Campos, Chu, Elsbernd, Mar, Pahre and Theriault; President Reilly (Ex Officio)

[Note: On this date, there was one vacancy on the Board of Directors.]

Staff Present: General Manager Denis Mulligan; District Engineer Ewa Bauer; Auditor-Controller Joseph Wire; District Secretary Janet Tarantino; Attorney Madeline Chun; Deputy General Manager/Bus Transit Division Teri Mantony; Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Z. Wayne Johnson; Electronic Revenue Collection Program Manager David Dick; Public Affairs Director Mary Currie; Assistant Clerk of the Board Lona Franklin

Visitors Present: None

 
 
1.
Status Report Relative to Establishing a Toll Classification for Providers of Regularly Scheduled Bus Transportation Services from Marin and Sonoma Counties to San Francisco International and Oakland International Airports
     
  a.

Presentation of Updated Status Report

In a memorandum to Committee, Auditor-Controller Joseph Wire and General Manager Denis Mulligan provided an updated status report relative to establishing a new toll classification for providers of regularly scheduled bus transportation services from Marin and Sonoma Counties to San Francisco International and Oakland International Airports. The report provided information to supplement that provided in the staff report presented to the Finance-Auditing Committee at its March 10, 2011, meeting.

The staff report stated that, during the May 14, 2010, Public Hearing regarding proposed carpool and multi-axle vehicle toll increases, representatives of the Marin Airporter (Airporter) and the Sonoma County Airport Express (Airport Express) stated their opposition to the multi-axle vehicle toll increases, noting that the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) maintains a commuter bus program offering free toll passage at any time of day. The report provided a short description of the BATA program. The report stated that Airporter and Airport Express staff indicated that, in 2010, they served approximately 285,000 and 219,000 passengers, respectively. This results in average vehicle occupancy of approximately 10 customers per coach for the Airporter and 16 customers per coach for the Airport Express.

Copies of the March 10, 2011, and April 7, 2011, staff reports, the Minutes of the Public Hearing of May 14, 2010, with attachments, and Minutes of the Finance-Auditing Committee of March 10, 2011, are available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Mr. Wire presented the staff report, stating that at the March 10, 2011, Finance-Auditing Committee/Committee of the Whole Meeting, staff was directed to study an alternate discounted toll for providers of regular transportation service to the San Francisco International and Oakland International Airports.

He stated that the BATA has provided toll-free crossings of their bridges to private carriers serving the two major airports for approximately thirty years. Carriers must meet certain criteria to qualify for the toll-free crossing. He added that staff is not aware of carriers other than the Airporter and the Airport Express that qualify for BATA’s toll-free crossing.

He addressed an alternative toll rate, equal to 50% of the otherwise applicable toll, at all times, removing the carpool toll discount and providing a discounted FasTrak® toll of $7.50. Mr. Wire stated that the District’s revenue reduction would be somewhat less than providing the carpool toll during carpool hours and a $7.50 toll during non-carpool hours. Instead, the District would lose approximately $104,000.00 over a ten-year period. To implement this special toll classification, staff believes the quarterly reimbursement program remains the best alternative and would be workable alongside the new All Electronic Toll (AET) system.

He concluded by stating that, should the Board approve a new toll classification, the next step would be to hold a public hearing for the purpose of receiving public input regarding the establishment of a new toll classification for providers of regularly scheduled bus transportation services from Marin and Sonoma Counties to San Francisco International and Oakland International Airports.

     
  b.

Public Comment

Randy Kokke, Marin Airporter, stated that the cost of tolls is a large item in the Airporter budget. He noted that the Airporter is regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and cannot raise or lower fares without CPUC approval. He requested that the Committee consider the Airporter’s position carefully. He stated he favors the proposal that would provide the Airporter with the same carpool toll as other carpools, and a $7.50 toll at other times of the day but would accept the modified discount toll of $7.50 all day. He also reported that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is the regional government agency that regulates sources of air pollution within the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties. He stated there are requirements for all trucks and buses to meet emissions standards. He stated that the Airporter currently owns twenty-five coaches that exceed the standards. The balance of the fleet will require installation of filtration systems and similar upgrades. He noted that a state-wide program is expected to begin soon.

     
  c.

Discussion by the Committee

Discussion ensued, including the following comments and inquiries:

  • Director Sobel commented that he would suggest the Committee continue to look at a modified program, such as that outlined on page 3 of the status report. He stated that he believes that program reflects the District’s costs and takes into consideration the obstacles that must be overcome. He indicated that he would not favor no-cost toll crossings, such as that provided by BATA.
  • Director Renée inquired as to whether BATA requires emissions standards to be met as part of the criteria used to determine eligibility for toll-free crossings. In response, Mr. Wire stated that, at the present time, staff is not aware of an emissions requirement to qualify for BATA’s toll-free crossing. He added that BATA has allowed toll-free crossings to eligible carriers since before emissions regulations were promulgated.
  • Director Boro commented that, while the District cannot provide toll-free crossings, allowing reduced tolls at all hours is possible. [please confirm - my notes indicate Boro supported the modified approach] He indicated his support for the modified option.
  • Chair Stroeh stated he had recently used the Airporter and that, during that trip, approximately 25 passengers were aboard. He stated he had used the service again a few weeks later, and approximately 20 passengers were aboard. He stated his agreement with Director Boro’s remarks.
  • Director Cochran commented that the cost of parking at the San Francisco International Airport is $67.00 while the cost of a ticket on the Airporter is $32.00. He stated that the Airporter can request permission from the CPUC to raise its fares. He noted that the District has financial challenges to meet and intends to reduce its work force to help meet those challenges. He concluded that he did not wish to provide a monetary break to a private business concurrent with reductions in District staffing.
  • Director Eddie commented that toll amounts can be changed in the future, if necessary. With fuel costs continuing to rise, more people will be encouraged to use mass transportation. He added that bus service to airports is an important service, especially in the northern counties.
     
  d.

Comments by Staff

  • Mr. Mulligan stated that the Committee can propose an action regarding a new toll classification for these private operators. That action would be to recommend as the next step the scheduling of a public hearing.
  • Attorney Chun concurred, noting that the Finance Committee could recommend that the Board take action to schedule a public hearing.
     
 

A motion was made and seconded by Directors SOBEL/STROEH to authorize the setting of a public hearing for the purpose of considering the establishment of a new toll classification for providers holding certificates of public convenience and necessity issued by the California Public Utilities Commission to operate regularly scheduled bus transportation services from Marin and Sonoma Counties to San Francisco International and Oakland International Airports, based upon a reduced per-axle toll rate equivalent to 50% of the otherwise applicable two-axle toll, which would apply 24 hours a day.

AYES (8): Directors Boro, Grosboll, Moylan, Rabbitt, Renée, Sobel and Stroeh; First Vice President Eddie
NOES (2): Directors Cochran and Snyder
ABSENT (8): Directors Brown, Campos, Chu, Elsbernd, Mar, Pahre and Theriault; President Reilly (Ex Officio)

     
2.

Closed Session

Attorney Madeline Chun, at the request of Chair Stroeh, stated that the Finance-Auditing Committee would convene in closed session, as permitted by the Brown Act, to discuss the following items, listed on the Agenda as Item No. 4.a:

      “4.a.  Conference with Legal Counsel – Pending Litigation
               Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(a)
               Report of Athens Administrators, Inc.
               Alberto Alvarado vs. Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District

After closed session, Chair Stroeh called the meeting to order in open session with a quorum present. Attorney Chun reported that this matter will be referred to the Board of Directors for disposition at the regularly scheduled meeting of April 8, 2011.

     
3.

Public Comment

There was no public comment.

   
4.

Adjournment

All business having been concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 11:20 a.m.

   

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

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