March 10, 2011

 

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, CA, on Thursday, March 10, 2011, at 10:00 a.m., Acting and Vice Chair Cochran presiding.

Committee Members Present (7): Acting and Vice Chair Cochran; Directors Grosboll, Pahre, Rabbitt and Sobel; Chair Brown (by teleconference); President Reilly (Ex Officio)
Committee Members Absent (2): Directors McGlashan and Snyder
Other Directors Present (4): Directors Boro, Eddie, Elsbernd and Stroeh

Committee of the Whole Members Present (11): Directors Boro, Brown (by teleconference), Cochran, Elsbernd, Grosboll, Pahre, Rabbitt, Sobel and Stroeh; First Vice President Eddie; President Reilly (Ex Officio)
Committee of the Whole Members Absent (5): Directors Campos, Chu, McGlashan, Moylan and Snyder

[Note: On this date, there were three vacancies on the Board of Directors.]

Staff Present: General Manager Denis Mulligan; Auditor-Controller Joseph Wire; District Engineer Ewa Bauer; Secretary of the District Janet Tarantino; Attorney David Miller; Attorney Madeline Chun; Deputy General Manager/Bridge Division Kary Witt; Deputy General Manager/Bus Transit Division Teri Mantony; Deputy General Manager/Ferry Transit Division James Swindler; Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Z. Wayne Johnson; Human Resources Director Harvey Pye; Electronic Revenue Collection Program Manager David Dick; Public Affairs Director Mary Currie; Executive Assistant to the General Manager Amorette Ko; Assistant Clerk of the Board Lona Franklin

Visitors Present: James Schaefer and Jay Gardner, Adventure Cat Sailing Charters


 

   
1. Report of District Advisory Committees
     
  a.
Advisory Committee on Accessibility

There were no meetings of the Advisory Committee on Accessibility in February 2011.
     
  b.

Bus Passengers Advisory Committee

There were no meetings of the Bus Passengers Advisory Committee in February 2011.

     
  c.

Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee

Notes of the Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee (FPAC) Meeting of Monday, January 10, 2011, and the Agenda for the FPAC Meeting of Monday, February 14, 2011, 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

     
4. Presentation by Adventure Cat on Wind-Assisted Ferryboats
     
  a.

Introduction

In a PowerPoint presentation (PowerPoint) to the Board, Jay Gardner and James Schaefer, of Adventure Cat Sailing Charters (Adventure Cat), provided a proposal for a fuel efficient, wind-assisted ferryboat for possible use as a commuter vessel for the District’s Ferry Transit Division. A copy of the PowerPoint is available from the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Deputy General Manager/Ferry Transit Division James Swindler provided a short history of the District’s relationship with Adventure Cat, stating that the District had considered wind power for its ferryboats approximately five years ago. He stated that the application was possibly appropriate for ferries departing from Sausalito, but not from Larkspur. He noted that the advantages of using a wind-assisted vessel include fewer environmental effects and fuel cost savings. Disadvantages include less maneuverability and reliability than motor-powered ferries. He stated that Adventure Cat is working with the United States Navy (U.S. Navy) in San Diego to develop a prototype.

     
  b.

PowerPoint Presentation

The PowerPoint displayed a photograph of the Adventure Cat, the company’s first catamaran, built in 1991, and the Adventure Cat 2, also a catamaran, built in 2003. In addition, slides displayed maps showing Bay Area wind directions and intensities in several locations, including the Golden Gate, Travis Air Force Base, and Altamont Pass. Also covered was fuel consumed by the Adventure Cat (75 gallons per three to four months) and the Adventure Cat 2 (150 gallons per three to four months), compared to the following commercial ferryboats: 1) new Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) vessels, which use 75 gallons per hour; 2) the M.V. Marin, which uses 150 gallons per hour; and, 3) the M.V. Intintoli, which uses 300 gallons per hour. Further slides showed the proposed wing/attachment design concept for proposed catamaran commute ferryboats and a list of project goals, chief among which is a 40% savings in fuel and emissions. A floor plan was provided, along with a side view cutaway diagram.

The PowerPoint also reported that, in addition to the District, wind-assisted ferryboats have been considered by the WETA and Blue and Gold, two other providers of commute passenger ferry services on the San Francisco Bay. All were interested in the potential for fuel savings and emissions reductions. However, the new technology is unfamiliar, leaving questions regarding mechanical reliability, maneuverability at the dock and handling in heavy weather. In March 2010, a formal presentation was made to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) which was well received.

Possible funding sources that were also named in the PowerPoint include the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Association, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Project costs for a six-month demonstration on the San Francisco Bay would be approximately $1.14 million.

At the meeting, Messrs. Gardner and Schaefer presented the PowerPoint, stating that Adventure Cat provides excursions, sailing beneath the Golden Gate Bridge (Bridge), to Kirby Cove, using the Adventure Cat 2, which has a 99-passenger capacity and is the larger of the two vessels. They stated that 95% of Adventure Cat 2 operations take place entirely under sail. They explained that, since 1943, Travis Air Force Base has been using wind power to save fuel. They noted that a large number of wind generators are in use at Altamont Pass, attesting to the utility and power of the wind.

Using the example of the Maltese Falcon, they stated that this sailboat was anchored off Sausalito in late 2008. It is equipped with carbon fiber material that keeps the sails unfurled, which are controlled automatically, and can be furled in approximately two minutes. Another vessel, the X-1, is a concept vessel that is robotic. It is docked in Hawaii and can back up or go forward in response to computerized commands. It is capable of sailing for a period of six months, using only wind for power and can pursue a target at 30 knots.

They reported that an engineering study was done to determine whether wind assistance could be used for commercial ferries, and the result was positive, with a projected 40% savings in fuel compared to motorized vessels. Mr. Gardner reported that his company’s biggest concern has been maneuverability at the dock and handling in heavy weather.

The technology will require additional testing. He stated that his company seeks the District’s support in obtaining the necessary grants to improve the technology. He reported that Adventure Cat is interacting with those who must approve possible grant applications, such as the USCG. He noted that, for example, Harbor Wing’s X-2 prototype has been funded by the U.S. Navy. It will be assembled and put through trials at San Diego in July, followed by six months of further testing. It is funded for defense purposes at this time. Separate funding would be required to test it in the waters of the San Francisco Bay (Bay).

Stating that wind resources equal fuel savings, Mr. Gardner reported that these sailboats can travel three times faster than the wind. He stated that his company has been working with CARB and understand that their proposal is strong, but that an agency partner is necessary in order to continue. He stated that they are hopeful the District will partner with them. The time frame is short, with the grant application to CARB due in approximately 30 days. He noted that a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, through the DOE, is also available.

He concluded by stating that, at a price of $3.00 per gallon for gasoline, the District could save approximately $1 million each year. Higher gasoline prices would result in even greater savings. He stated that the cost of the vessel could be recouped in approximately seven years.

     
  c.

Discussion by the Board

Discussion ensued, including the following comments and inquiries:

  • Director Pahre made the following inquiries:
    • She inquired as to whether the sails on these vessels are fixed. In response, Mr. Gardner stated that the sails are hard, but not fixed. He stated that the upper and lower sails are divided, so that in high wind, the upper sail turns off, and has less wind resistance that the mast of a boat. He added that the wind-assisted sailboats have a 750-passenger capacity, compared to the 400-passenger capacity of the vessels currently in the District’s fleet.
    • She inquired as to how a demonstration project would affect the District. In response, Mr. Gardner stated that a demonstration project would be planned to operate for a six-month period, on a daily schedule, five days per week, along regular ferry routes, for up to seven trips per day. Mr. Schaefer added that data would be collected by an independent third party, agreed upon by both Adventure Cat and the District, in order to validate the expected fuel savings.
    • She inquired as to whether a cost to the District would be associated with such a demonstration project. In response, Mr. Schaefer stated that the demonstration would be designed to be cash neutral or cash positive for the District, with operating funds to be provided by CARB.
    • She inquired as to whether a wind-assisted ferryboat could be constructed that would carry 300 to 400 passengers and accommodate the needs of commuters. Mr. Gardner responded in the affirmative, adding that, initially, the speed would likely be approximately 20 knots.
  • Director Grosboll made the following inquiries:
    • He inquired as to whether the fuel savings estimate of 40% is based upon the size of the engine. Mr. Gardner responded affirmatively, stating that a computer program is available that can determine the amount of savings based upon wind speeds during various seasons.
    • He inquired as to the status of Adventure Cat’s proposal to WETA. In response, Mr. Gardner stated that WETA has provided them a letter of support and wishes further information. He added that the Adventure Cat has sailed WETA routes without operating motors, and the response was favorable.
    • He inquired as to the use to which the U.S. Navy is putting the Harbor Wing X-2. In response, Mr. Schaefer stated that the vessel is unmanned, and is currently being tested for various uses. He stated that the sail/wing is approximately 50 to 60 feet tall. He noted a third vessel will become the final prototype, and that these vessels are the U.S. Navy’s equivalent of Air Force drones. Mr. Gardner added that the goal is to demonstrate the technology and to document the savings and lowered emissions from less fuel use.
    • He inquired as to whether Larkspur is problematic as far as wind. Mr. Gardner responded in the negative. He indicated that Adventure Cat’s wind-assisted vessels will handle speeds of 30 to 40 knots. Mr. Mulligan added that Larkspur requires higher speed service than does Sausalito. It is a commuter ferry and the amount of time necessary to cross the Bay is very important. By contrast, the crossing from Sausalito is used more for recreational and seasonal trips. Mr. Swindler added that a vessel such as the Adventure Cat would work well for weekend trips, but during the week, a vessel that can travel at 30 knots is required.
    • He inquired as to the credentials of the wind-assisted vessel designer, M&M Designs (M&M). In response, Mr. Swindler stated that M&M may not, ultimately, be the designer, although they designed the prototype. More important to the District is the technology. Mr. Gardner added that M&M provided design work for the America’s Cup. The vessels are at the forefront of new technology, being considered the top in the world.
  • President Reilly inquired as to the cost of the Harbor Wing X-2. In response, Mr. Gardner stated that the cost was several hundred thousand dollars.
  • Director Boro made the following comment and inquiry:
    • He inquired as to the amount of time required to cross the Bay in an Adventure Cat vessel when no wind blows. In response, Mr. Gardner stated that the Sausalito route could be covered at 17 knots. He added that Adventure Cat hopes to be able to gather data on winds, calm, times of day and other critical information.
    • He commented that, from a cost standpoint, were wind-assisted ferries feasible, the District could charge a lower fare to encourage greater usage. He noted that the length of time of the crossing and the reliability of the service would be the most critical factors. In response, Mr. Gardner stated that only one failure has happened in the past 20 years that prevented sailing, and that problem was with the transmission, not the sails.
  • First Vice President Eddie made the following inquiries:
    • He inquired as to whether dock design changes would be required in order to accommodate wind-assisted vessels. Mr. Gardner responded in the negative, stating that passenger loading of wind-assisted vessels can be designed to deck level as necessary.
    • He inquired as to the number of passengers the prototype can carry. In response, Mr. Gardner stated that the prototype vessel can carry six passengers.
  • Director Rabbitt inquired as to how schedules would be adhered to, given the variation in wind speeds on the Bay. Mr. Swindler stated that the Adventure Cat vessels are wind-assisted, and can run on diesel power alone. If insufficient winds blow, the vessel would operate on diesel. Mr. Gardner added that, even in the absence of wind, the wind-assisted vessels use less fuel than conventional vessels.
  • Director Sobel made the following inquiries:
    • He inquired as to whether providing the necessary staff time to monitor the performance of a wind-assisted ferryboat would be problematic for the District. In response, Mr. Swindler stated that little staff time is likely to be required, as the District’s concerns are principally maneuverability and reliability.
    • He inquired as to whether the District would be comfortable with a demonstration project such as the one described. In response, Mr. Mulligan stated that the grant has yet to be analyzed by District staff. He stated that, should the District wish to become an eligible recipient, the terms of the grant would require close scrutiny, to understand the responsibilities and the possible liability.
  • Director Stroeh inquired as to whether the demonstration vessel would carry the same number of passengers currently transported by the District’s conventional ferryboats. In response, Mr. Gardner stated that the demonstration vessel would carry fewer passengers than the District’s current ferryboats. Mr. Schaefer added that the demonstration vessel would provide familiarity for captains and crew. It would also provide answers to the District’s questions and concerns, and would provide the necessary data to determine projected fuel savings.
  • Mr. Mulligan inquired as to the length of the prototype vessel, and whether this type vessel is currently used on the Bay. In response, Mr. Gardner stated that the prototype is 50 feet long and 30 feet wide, the same approximate size as the Adventure Cat. He added that wind-assisted vessels are used on the Bay but, at this time, none are equipped with hard wings, such as the vessels shown in the PowerPoint.
     
  d.

Motion to Continue

Motion was made and seconded by Directors PAHRE/BROWN to continue this item for further discussion at a future Transportation Committee meeting, with the date to be determined.

Action by the Board -- None Required

     
  AYES (11): Directors Boro, Brown (by teleconference), Cochran, Elsbernd, Grosboll, Pahre, Rabbitt, Sobel and Stroeh; First Vice President Eddie; President Reilly (Ex Officio)
NOES (0): None
     
     
3.

Monthly Report on Bridge Traffic, Transit Ridership Trends and Transit Service Performance

The monthly report on Bridge Traffic and Transit Ridership Trends and Transit Service Performance was furnished to the Transportation Committee. The report shows the annual trend lines for the 12-month period ending January 2011, and includes the following charts:

  a.
Southbound Golden Gate Bridge Traffic Trend for the period from June 2004 to January 2011, showing the annual percentage change in traffic for the 12 months ending January 2011;
  b.
Golden Gate Ferry Ridership Trend for the period from June 2004 through January 2011 showing the annual percentage change in ridership for the 12 months ending January 2011; and,
  c.
GGT Bus Ridership Trend as a 12-month running total from June 2004 through January 2011 showing the annual percentage change in ridership for the 12 months ending January 2011.
     
 

The monthly report also included the Transit Service Performance Statistics Report for January 2011, showing that, during the month of January 2011, bus productivity as measured by passengers per bus trip, load factor, and farebox recovery increased to more productive levels compared to December 2010. In the period from December 2010, to January 2011, ferry productivity as measured by farebox recovery increased, the percent of cancelled trips decreased, and passengers per hour remained the same. Copies of all of the above-listed items are available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

Action by the Board – None Required

     
4.

Monthly Report on Activities Related to Marin Local Service Contract with the Marin County Transit District

The monthly report on activities related to the Marin local service contract with the Marin County Transit District (MCTD) was furnished to the Transportation Committee. The report included the following elements:

  a.
Revised spreadsheets from the Planning Department outlining GGT bus service performance of both District regional routes and Marin Transit local routes, for January 2011; and,
  b.
A spreadsheet from the Auditor-Controller outlining the history of payments made from July 1, 2010 to February 18, 2011, by MCTD to the District, for intra-county bus transit services in Marin County.
     
 
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:
  a.
Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) Executive Minutes of January 10, 2011;
  b.
TAM Board of Commissioners Draft Minutes of January 27, 2011;
  c. TAM Executive Committee Agenda for February 14, 2011; and,
  d. TAM Board of Commissioners Agenda for February 24, 2011.
 

Copies of all of the above-listed items are available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

Action by the Board – None Required

   
5.

Public Comment

There was no public comment.

     
6.

Adjournment

All business having been concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 10:55 a.m.

     

 

Respectfully submitted,

s/ Gerald Cochran, Acting and Vice Chair
Transportation Committee