June 24, 2011

 

REPORT OF THE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
AND PUBLIC INFORMATION COMMITTEE/
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

 

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

 

Honorable Members:

A meeting of the Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee/Committee of the Whole (GAPI) was held in the Board Room, Administration Building, Toll Plaza, San Francisco, CA, on Friday, June 24, 2011, at 9:35 a.m., Chair Boro presiding.

Committee Members Present (5): Chair Boro; Directors Moylan, Renée and Snyder; Acting President Grosboll (Ex Officio)
Committee Members Absent (4): Directors Eddie and Mar; Vice Chair Campos; President Reilly (Ex Officio)
Other Directors Present (6): Directors Arnold, Cochran, Elsbernd, Rabbitt, Sobel and Stroeh

Committee of the Whole Members Present (11): Directors Arnold, Boro, Cochran, Elsbernd, Moylan, Rabbitt, Renée, Snyder, Sobel and Stroeh; Second Vice President Grosboll
Committee of the Whole Members Absent (8): Directors Brown, Campos, Chu, Mar, Pahre and Theriault; First Vice President Eddie; President Reilly (Ex Officio)

Staff Present: General Manager Denis Mulligan; Auditor-Controller Joseph Wire; District Engineer Ewa Bauer; Secretary of the District Janet Tarantino; Attorney David Miller; Deputy General Manager/Bridge Division Kary Witt; Deputy General Manager/Bus Transit Division Teri Mantony; Marketing and Communications Director Kellee Hopper; Executive Assistant to the General Manager Amorette Ko; Assistant Clerk of the Board Lona Franklin

Visitors Present: Beau Biller, Platinum Advisors; Melinda McClain, Platinum Advisors

 

   
1.

Authorize Execution of a Professional Services Agreement with FreeFi Networks, Inc., for Wireless Internet Services Onboard Golden Gate Transit Buses

In a memorandum to Committee, Marketing and Communications Director Kellee Hopper, Deputy General Manager/Bus Transit Division Teri Mantony and General Manager Denis Mulligan provided a report on staff’s recommendation to authorize a Professional Services Agreement (PSA) with FreeFi Networks, Inc. (FreeFi), for wireless internet services onboard Golden Gate Transit (GGT) buses.

The staff report stated that, in 2009, the District issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the installation and maintenance of wireless access systems on its bus fleet, at no cost to the District, and received a proposal from one company, which ultimately was unable to enter into an agreement with the District. In 2010, the District re-issued a revised RFP, and no proposals were received. The District subsequently contacted a number of service providers about the possibility of having onboard wireless capability on GGT buses, and FreeFi submitted a proposal to provide wireless internet service on the District’s bus fleet.

The staff report stated that FreeFi has agreed to provide the internet service, including technical and customer service, to the District and its customers at no charge, provided that FreeFi is permitted to sell and retain the revenues from online advertising on a portion of each page visited.

The staff report also stated that 3G connectivity will be provided through existing cellular networks, with the District to procure 3G equipment that can be upgraded to accept 4G cards when 4G service becomes available in the North Bay. The District will be responsible for the purchase, installation and maintenance of the hardware needed to provide this service, with the hardware to be procured separately through a competitive process in accordance with District policy. A copy of the staff report is available from the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Mr. Mulligan stated that the District is interested in improving bus service with Wi-Fi service. He stated that most passengers have the option of either driving or using public transportation, and the District wishes to encourage them to use GGT buses.

Ms. Hopper briefly summarized the staff report, stating that the District proposes to provide monthly wireless service for up to 200 buses for a three-year term at no cost to the District. The prior RFPs sought an all-inclusive package of services, but it was found that some vendors were unable to respond due to the hardware requirements. She reported that the RFP was revised, and that the District now proposes to install Wi-Fi on approximately 154 commute buses, and to provide the necessary hardware, at a cost of approximately $800.00 to $1,200.00 per unit.

She stated that staff recommends either 4G service, or service that will be upgradable to 4G, which currently serves the area south of the Golden Gate Bridge (Bridge). North of the Bridge, wireless service is provided in 3G, with providers indicating that 4G is planned for the future. She stated that the exact unit cost will become known once the procurement procedure has begun. She concluded by stating that requisite funds are available from the District’s Capital and Operating Budgets to cover the expected costs of providing Wi-Fi on commute buses.

Discussion ensued, including the following comments and inquiries:

  • Attorney Miller commented that the cost of the service to the District will determine whether the Board must take action once exact costs are known. In response, Mr. Mulligan stated that the anticipated costs of providing Wi-Fi service on commute buses has been budgeted. He reported that a pilot program on six buses proved popular with passengers.
  • Acting President Grosboll inquired as to whether other public transportation service providers offer Wi-Fi service on buses. In response, Mr. Mulligan stated that AC Transit offers Wi-Fi service. He further stated that the District is unique in that it would provide both hardware and software.
  • Director Snyder inquired as to the term of the proposed PSA. In response, Ms. Hopper stated that the PSA will cover a three-year term, beginning as soon as hardware becomes operational in September 2011.
  • Director Sobel made the following comment and inquiry:
    • He commented that he has concerns regarding whether the District may discover that equipment advances have been made that would render the District’s equipment obsolete. In response, Ms. Hopper stated that industry experts indicate that some manufacturers are not yet producing 4G equipment. She stated that the District would prefer to provide 4G equipment but that, if 4G cannot be obtained in the District’s price range, the next most desirable option would be to purchase 3G equipment that is upgradable. Ms. Mantony added that Wi-Fi equipment will be installed on all Motor Coach Industries (MCI) buses, which are used primarily for routes from Sonoma County. She added that routes originating in Marin County will also be equipped with Wi-Fi service. The newest buses will be equipped first. She concluded by stating that coaches owned by Marin County Transit District (MCTD), as well as the District’s oldest fleet, will not be Wi-Fi equipped.
    • He inquired as to whether the necessary technical requirements can be met throughout the GGT system, noting that Smartphones, which can be used to access the internet, are very popular and could be used during short commutes as well as long ones. In response, Ms. Hopper stated that the vendor can provide service for the entire fleet of coaches. Mr. Mulligan added that trips from Marin County will be Wi-Fi equipped.
  • Director Boro inquired as to whether the District will work together with the MCTD on this project. In response, Ms. Mantony stated that the District and the MCTD will work together, as MCTD has twelve to fifteen vehicles that are owned by the District which they hope to equip with Wi-Fi.

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

RECOMMENDATION

The Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee/Committee of the Whole recommends that the Board of Directors authorize the execution of a Professional Services Agreement with FreeFi Networks, Inc., Fort Lee, NJ, at no monthly operating cost to the District, for a three-year term, to be implemented in the Fall of 2011, to provide wireless internet service onboard up to 200 Golden Gate Transit buses; with the understanding that the hardware will be procured separately through a competitive process in accordance with District policy.

Action by the Board at its meeting of June 24, 2011 – Resolution
NON-CONSENT CALENDAR

AYES (11): Directors Arnold, Boro, Cochran, Elsbernd, Moylan, Rabbitt, Renée, Snyder, Sobel and Stroeh; Second Vice President Grosboll
NOES (0): None

   
2.

Legislative Update from the District’s Legislative Advocates, Platinum Advisors, LLC

In a memorandum to Committee, Beau Biller and Melinda McClain, of Platinum Advisors, LLC (Platinum), provided their lobbyist report for the months of May and June 2011, which included information on the following items: 1) 2011-12 State Budget Negotiations; 2) Legislation; 3) Redistricting; and, 4) Other Items of Interest. A copy of the report is available from the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Beau Biller and Melinda McClain introduced themselves as two of the District’s lobbyists to the California State Legislature. They summarized their written report to the Committee as follows.

Mr. Biller reported that California has not yet passed a state budget, partly as a result of disagreements between the Democratic Caucus and the Governor. As the Platinum report stated, on June 21, 2011, State Controller John Chiang announced that the budget submitted by the Legislature was not balanced and violated the provisions of Proposition 25, which changed the legislative vote requirement to pass the state budget from two-thirds to a simple majority while retaining the two-thirds vote requirement for taxes. Under Proposition 25, legislators do not receive pay for each day the budget is late. He stated that, if tax extensions are not approved, an additional $10 billion in cuts will be required. Nonetheless, the Governor has introduced a bill to fund public transportation, which is likely to be funded.

Regarding redistricting, Mr. Biller stated that the California State Auditor randomly selected the first eight members of the first Citizens Redistricting Commission (CR Commission) on November 18, 2010. Draft maps of regions have been released, with public hearings scheduled until the August 15, 2011, deadline, at which time the final district maps will be released. He stated that the next meeting of the CR Commission will take place on July 12, 2011.

Ms. McClain reported that Platinum generally takes an active role in lobbying for bills related to transportation. In addition, Platinum monitors introduced bills for content, to ascertain whether transportation or other issues that may affect the District are subsequently included in any bills. She stated that, currently, ten bills are being tracked for District interests. Over 2000 bills were introduced at the beginning of the 2011-2012 legislative session. She stated that, each month, Platinum prepares a report on the bills that are monitored on behalf of the District and that copies of the report are available at this meeting. She concluded by stating that Platinum employs four registered lobbyists in San Francisco who can be of assistance to the District.

Discussion ensued, including the following comments and inquiries:

  • Acting President Grosboll inquired as to whether the California Budget includes any funds specifically for the District. In response, Ms. McClain stated that funds are distributed to California Special Districts according to their needs. There is no specific line item for the District. Approximately $400 million is earmarked for all California Special Districts.
  • Director Snyder made the following inquiries:
    • He inquired as to whether the Board could be provided with a list of bills being monitored by Platinum. Mr. Mulligan responded affirmatively.
    • He inquired as to a bill that would allow installation of three bicycle racks on the front of buses. In response, Mr. Biller stated that installing bicycle racks on the front of a bus extends the length of the bus, making it possible for some buses, but not for others. Ms. Mantony added that the length of the vehicle determines the bicycle rack that can be installed. If the bus would exceed length limitations by including a bicycle rack on the front, storage for bicycles is available beneath the bus. She concluded by stating that staff is also monitoring this legislation.
    • He inquired as to whether the District is supporting that bill. Ms. McClain responded in the negative.
    • He commented that he would like the District to support the bill. In response, Mr. Mulligan stated that support of the bill will be included on the next Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee agenda.
  • Director Cochran commented that redistricting will shuffle regions and representatives. He observed that the North Bay and San Francisco may lose representation in the Legislature. He stated that it is necessary that a statement be made regarding the need for adequate representation for the North Bay and San Francisco.
   
3.

Public Comment

There was no public comment.

   
4.

Adjournment

All business having been concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 10:05 a.m.

   

 

Respectfully submitted,

s/ Albert J. Boro, Chair
Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee