REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS

PUBLIC HEARING

RECEIVE PUBLIC COMMENT ON PROPOSAL TO
ESTABLISH A FY 2012-2016 FIVE-YEAR TRANSIT FARE PROGRAM

APRIL 7, 2011

 

The Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (District) held a public hearing in the Board Room, Administration Building, Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza, San Francisco, CA, on Friday, April 7, 2011, at 9:30 a.m., for the purpose of receiving public comment on a proposal to establish a Five-Year Transit Fare Program to increase bus, paratransit, special event ferry and single ride (formerly referred to as “cash”) ferry fares in order to meet operating expenses, effective July 1, 2011.

Directors in Attendance (10): Directors Cochran, Grosboll, Moylan, Pahre, Renée, Snyder, Sobel, Stroeh and Theriault; Acting President and First Vice President Eddie

Directors Not in Attendance (8): Directors Boro, Brown, Campos, Chu, Elsbernd, Mar and Rabbitt; President Reilly

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

Staff Present: General Manager Denis Mulligan; District Engineer Ewa Bauer; District Secretary Janet Tarantino; Attorney Madeline Chun; Deputy General Manager/Bus Transit Division Teri Mantony; Public Affairs Director Mary Currie; Director of Planning Ron Downing; Senior Board Analyst Elizabeth Eells

Visitors Present: Amy Van Doren, Marin County Transit District

 

     
1.

Purpose of Public Hearing

The public hearing was conducted by President Reilly, who announced that the purpose of the public hearing is to receive public comment on a proposal to establish a FY 2012-2016 Five-Year Transit Fare Program to increase bus, paratransit, special event ferry and single ride (formerly referred to as “cash”) ferry fares in order to meet operating expenses, effective July 1, 2011.

     
2.

Public Outreach

District Secretary Janet Tarantino reported that, in compliance with District policy, notices were mailed to organizations and individuals on the District’s mailing list and copies were posted in various locations on District properties. Also, in compliance with Resolution No. 2011-015, adopted on February 25, 2011, legal notices were published in the following publications: the Marin Independent Journal, the San Francisco Examiner and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat on Tuesday, March 15 and on Tuesday, March 22. Additional public outreach was undertaken, as follows:

  • A press release was posted to the web site on February 21, and was issued to targeted media. A media reminder was issued on April 4;
  • Display boards and comment forms were translated into Spanish for affected communities;
  • Display ads were placed in the various area newspapers: the San Francisco Chronicle (North Bay Zone), the Marin Independent Journal, La Voz, Commuter Times and the Press Democrat between March 3 and April 30;
  • Posters were posted on all ferries and placed in the ferry terminals, as well as posted on all buses, during the week of March 7;
  • Sandwich boards were placed in the ferry terminals during the week of March 7;
  • Information was eblasted to all bus and ferry subscribers on March 1 and 16, and on April 4; tweeted via Twitter on February 25, March 23 and April 4; and, placed on Facebook on February 25, March 23 and April 4;
  • The proposal was presented to the Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee on February 14; to the Advisory Committee on Accessibility on March 17; and, to the Bus Passengers Advisory Committee on March 23;
  • Public Open Houses were held: at the San Francisco Ferry Terminal on March 1 and March 10; at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds on March 15; at the Santa Rosa City Council Chambers on March 16; at Whistlestop on March 22; and, at the Administration Building, Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza on March 24;
  • Additional outreach was done at the monthly Ferry Management session at the San Francisco Ferry Terminal on March 1 and March 15;
  • A formal public hearing notice and the associated staff report for the April 6 and April 7 Public Hearings were posted on the District’s web site on April 1, 2011; and, posted on www.511.org.

Attorney Madeline Chun confirmed that the above-described public outreach met the legal requirements for calling a public hearing.

     
3.

Correspondence Received Relative to the Proposal

Ms. Tarantino reported that, as of Monday, April 4, 2011, the District has received 14 public comments on the proposal, 12 comments expressing opposition and 2 comments expressing general support.

     
4.

Staff Presentation

Acting President and Vice President Eddie called upon Director of Planning Ron Downing to present staff’s recommendation to establish a FY 2012-2016 Five-Year Transit Fare Program. A copy of the staff report is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

Mr. Downing summarized the staff report stating that the District is facing an $89 million five-year projected deficit as a result of several continuing developments, including reduced revenues, the loss of state transit funding, increased costs associated with employee medical benefits and pensions and the commitment of $75 million toward the Doyle Drive reconstruction project. The proposed action is related to establishing a new Five-Year Transit Fare Program that addresses Initiatives 12 and 25 in the FY 09/10 Financial Plan for Achieving Long-Term Financial Stability. The Five-Year Transit Fare Program was discussed by the Finance-Auditing Committee at its meeting of February 24, 2011.

Mr. Downing stated that as a result of the changes made to the Ferry ClipperSM discount fares that went into effect on January 1, 2011, staff will consider presenting a proposal to modify these fares to the Committee/Board later this year. This proposal will be developed in concert with an evaluation of parking fees at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.

Mr. Downing stated that staff recommends that the following actions be undertaken as relates to the establishment of a FY 2012-2016 Five-Year Transit Fare Program, effective July 1, 2011:

  • An annual five percent fare increase on: Golden Gate Transit (GGT) regional intercounty bus services; local rides within Marin County on GGT regional bus routes; Larkspur Ferry “single ride” fares; and, complementary Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) paratransit;
  • An increase on Sausalito Ferry “single ride” adult fares of $1.00, from $8.25 to $9.25, for the first year, then a 5 percent increase each subsequent year;
  • An increase in “special event” ferry fares, to equal the proposed single ride adult ferry fares; and,
  • An annual review, concurrent with the District’s budget development process, to determine if an adjustment to the FY 2012-2016 Five-Year Transit Fare Program or special event fares is needed.

Further, Mr. Downing reported that this proposal differs in three ways from past adopted Five-Year Transit Fare Programs: 1) An incremental rounding of fares to the nearest $0.25; 2) An increase of $1.00 in the single ride adult cash fare for the Sausalito Ferry in the first year of the program; and, 3) A change in the ferry special event fare that would make it equivalent to the Larkspur Ferry adult single ride fare.

Discussion ensued, including the following comments and inquiries:

  • Director Snyder made the following comments and inquiries:
    • He stated that his belief is that good public policy is to increase transit fares by five percent or less each year, as costs go up five percent or more each year. Also, he stated that it would be good public policy to increase the Bridge tolls by five percent each year. In response, Mr. Mulligan stated that it the Board’s prerogative to set policy on tolls and fares.
    • He inquired as to whether a public hearing would be needed to increase tolls. Mr. Mulligan responded in the affirmative. Further, he stated that the Board could consider a proposal to increase tolls by five percent each year in its next discussion about the District’s FY 2009/2010 Financial Plan for Achieving Long-Term Financial Stability.
  • Director Grosboll asked that staff provide him with the comments in opposition to the transit fare program being proposed. In response, Mr. Downing stated he did not have the detailed comments received so far with him. He noted that the staff report with the summary of comments would be presented to the Finance-Auditing Committee at its meeting of April 21, 2011.
     
5.

Public Comments

Acting President and First Vice President Eddie then opened the public hearing to receive public comment, noting that all comments will be entered into the record. He announced the following public comment procedures, noting that (1) there is a three-minute limit for each speaker; (2) the District Secretary will keep track of the time of each speaker; and, (3) while speaking into the microphone, the speaker should state his or her name, and if representing an organization, state the full name of the organization.

     
  a.
Amy Van Doren, Marin County Transit District (Marin Transit) requested that the District not raise local rider fares. She expressed the concern that this increase would create a difference between local and regional fares. She stated that the Marin Transit Board of Directors (Board) does not have any plans to consider an increase in local fares. She noted that there is an assumption that fares may increase in 2012. She further stated that the Marin Transit Board is not considering action to increase Marin County’s local fares at this time.
     
6.

Closing Remarks

Ms. Chun stated that the deadline for receiving written comments on this proposal is Thursday, April 7 at 4:30 p.m. Following the deadline for comments, staff will carefully consider the suggestions and comments that have been received, and will then develop a report that will include a summary of public comments and a staff recommendation relative to this proposal. The report will be presented to the Finance-Auditing Committee at its meeting of Thursday, April 21. It is anticipated that the Committee will forward its recommendation to the Board of Directors for consideration at its meeting of Friday, April 22. All meetings will be held in the Board Room, Administration Building, Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza, San Francisco, CA, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The staff report will be available for the public to view on Monday, April 18 by 4:30 p.m.

Discussion ensued, including the following comments and inquiries:

  • Director Renée made the following comments:
    • She commented that the staff reports could include a comparison of the cost of riding the bus with the cost of driving a personal vehicle. She noted that this cost comparison could entice more riders from the Northern counties. She added that the cost of fuel could continue to increase and this comparison would make transit more attractive.
    • She commented that increased tolls would make it even more attractive to ride the bus and attract more bus riders from the Northern counties.
     
7.

Conclusion

All business having been concluded, the public hearing was closed at 9:50 a.m.

     

 

Respectfully submitted,

s/ Janet S. Tarantino
Secretary of the District

 

Attachments:

 

Exhibit 1: Staff Report entitled, “Public Hearing to Receive Public Comment on a Proposed FY 2012-2016 Five-Year Fare Program,” including Attachment A. Public Hearings were held on April 6 and 7, 2011