January 12, 2012

 

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 (Committee) was held in the Board Room, Administration Building, Toll Plaza, San Francisco, CA, on Thursday, January 12, 2012, at 10:00 a.m., Chair Grosboll presiding.

Committee Members Present (6): Chair Grosboll; Directors Arnold, Pahre, Sears and Snyder; Vice Chair Sobel
Committee Members Absent (2): Director Rabbitt; President Reilly (Ex Officio)
Other Directors Present (6): Directors Cochran, Moylan, Renée, Stroeh and Theriault; First Vice President Eddie

Committee of the Whole Members Present (12): Directors Arnold, Cochran, Moylan, Pahre, Renée, Sears, Snyder, Sobel, Stroeh and Theriault; Second Vice President Grosboll; First Vice President Eddie
Committee of the Whole Members Absent (6): Directors Campos, Chu, Elsbernd, Mar and Rabbitt; President Reilly (Ex Officio)

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

Staff Present: General Manager Denis Mulligan; Auditor-Controller Joseph Wire; Secretary of the District Janet Tarantino; Attorney David Miller; 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 Kellee Hopper; Planning Director Ron Downing; Risk Management and Safety Director William Stafford; Public Affairs Director Mary Currie; Assistant Clerk of the Board Lona Franklin

Visitors Present: David Rzepinski, General Manager, Marin County Transit District; David Schonbrunn, Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF)

     
1. Report of District Advisory Committees
     
  a.
Advisory Committee on Accessibility
There were no meetings to report in the month of December 2011, for the Advisory
Committee on Accessibility.
     
  b.

Bus Passengers Advisory Committee
There were no meetings to report in the month of December 2011, for the Bus Passengers Advisory Committee. The Meeting Summary of November 9, 2011, and the Revised Meeting Summary of September 21, 2011, were furnished to the Transportation Committee. Copies are available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

     
  c.

Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee
There were no meetings to report in the month of December 2011, for the Ferry Passengers Advisory Committee. Meeting Notes of November 14, 2011, and the Meeting Agenda for January 9, 2012, 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

     
2.

Authorize the Setting of a Public Hearing Relative to a Proposal to Institute a Pilot Program to Charge a Monthly Premium Parking Fee at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal

     
  a. Staff Report

In a memorandum to Committee, Planning Director Ron Downing, Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Kellee Hopper, Deputy General Manager/Ferry Transit Division James Swindler, Auditor-Controller Joseph Wire and General Manager Denis Mulligan reported on staff’s recommendation to authorize the setting of a public hearing on Thursday, March 22, 2012, at 9:30 a.m., in the Board Room, Administration Building, Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza, San Francisco, CA, for the purpose of discussing a proposal to institute a Pilot Program to charge a monthly premium parking fee at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal (LFT).

The staff report stated that the Board of Directors (Board) of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (District), by Resolution No. 2009-090 at its meeting of October 30, 2009, adopted the FY 09/10 Financial Plan for Achieving Long-Term Financial Stability (Plan), containing 33 different cost reduction and revenue generating initiatives, to address the District’s five-year projected deficit. The proposed monthly premium parking fee at LFT begins to address Initiative #15, “Charge for Parking at Larkspur Ferry” and will contribute new revenues to help address the District’s now projected $87 million five-year financial shortfall.

The staff report also stated that, following research into the subject by market research consultant Corey, Canapary and Galanis, staff recommends a graduated approach that would introduce monthly premium parking under a pilot program. The proposed Pilot Program is recommended to be initially limited to 160 parking spaces, or about 10% of the general spaces available at the LFT. Passengers would not be guaranteed a specific parking space, but rather would be guaranteed a parking space within the designated area. The staff report stated that, if implemented, the program would be a one-year pilot, subject to a review after six months.

A copy of the staff report is available from the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

     
  b. Presentation of Staff Report

At the meeting, Mr. Mulligan stated that a Committee recommendation is not required today. Mr. Downing briefly summarized the staff report, stating that staff has reviewed several parking programs in the Bay Area, including the one used by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). He stated that BART has robust paid parking at all stations, except the downtown areas, and also has no-charge excess capacity parking lots. He stated that, in addition, staff conducted focus groups with Ferry riders regarding the approach to take. Most persons were not in favor of the method used by BART. Mr. Downing stated that, by contrast, when asked about a premium parking charge, with a restricted number of spaces guaranteed to be available until 10:00 a.m., with a premium charge of approximately $65.00 per month, the majority agreed this would be an added benefit, since they could arrive late and still know there is parking.

     
  c.

Discussion by the Committee

Discussion ensued, including the following inquiries and comments:

  • Director Sobel inquired as to whether the District has received other comments from the public about the proposed program. In response, Mr. Downing stated that only one comment has been received to date. He indicated that additional public outreach would be appropriate.
  • Chair Grosboll inquired as to whether the proposal is limited to commencing the process of getting more input from the public. Mr. Downing responded affirmatively.
  • Director Renée made the following inquiry and comments:
    • She inquired as to the capacity of the current ferry system. In response, Mr. Downing stated that ferries are filled to capacity during peak hours, and that parking is also at capacity during those times. He added that regular customers have expressed dissatisfaction that parking spaces are unavailable.
    • She commented that a small bus feeder system for the ferry, such as that recommended by Valerie Taylor, a member of the public, in her letter dated January 9, 2012, and submitted for the record to the Transportation Committee for today’s meeting, would encourage increased ridership. In response, Mr. Mulligan stated that, at other than peak periods, the ferries have empty seats. The District provided shuttles for several years in the past, but they were minimally used. He stated that most ferry customers are “choice riders” and will simply drive to San Francisco if they cannot find parking. He concluded by stating that the District wishes to maximize the use of ferries, and the proposed parking program could encourage that result.
    • She commented that the District should consider the cost of gasoline in conjunction with suggesting the proposed price for premium parking.
  • Director Snyder made the following inquiries and comment:
    • He inquired as to whether setting aside premium spaces for which the District charges a fee would create a problem for those individuals who do not choose to pay a fee. In response, Mr. Downing stated that not all ferry riders use the ferry every day, but may ride only four days per week, and consider the premium parking a benefit. Mr. Mulligan added that the availability or non-availability of parking may cause some riders to change the time of day they choose to ride the ferry.
    • He inquired as to the manner in which the shuttle was run in the past. In response, Mr. Swindler stated that approximately two years ago, a Shuttle Pilot Program was run for a period of six to eight months, from downtown San Rafael to the LFT. Mr. Mulligan added that staff will do research in greater depth to provide the Committee with additional information regarding the possibility of providing shuttles. He also indicated that the question of providing shuttles for the ferries can be included in the public process.
    • He inquired as to whether the District could consider the two options of either charging for premium parking spaces or providing shuttle service in conjunction with Larkspur ferry service. In response, Attorney Miller stated that introducing additional alternatives beyond the described project would need to be identified expressly for consideration at a public hearing. Mr. Mulligan added that, if the Committee so desires, two separate public hearings could be held, one on each of these two options.
    • He commented that the recommended action does not address the District’s goal of increasing transit use. In addition, increased traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge (Bridge) could be an externality. He indicated that, in his view, the proposal could negatively impact ridership. He concluded by stating that the proposal is too modest and will not achieve desired goals.
  • Director Pahre made the following inquiries and comment:
    • She inquired as to whether the District could benefit from providing preferred parking spaces for carpools. In response, Mr. Mulligan stated that premium parking spaces are currently provided for carpools.
    • She inquired as to whether sufficient capacity exists onboard the ferries to accommodate carpoolers. In response, Mr. Swindler stated that the ferries begin filling up between approximately 7:50 a.m. and 8:20 a.m. The amount of seating available would depend upon the time of arrival. Mr. Mulligan added that 42 ferry trips per day depart from Larkspur. He indicated that the District wishes to encourage mid-day usage.
    • She commented that she would prefer to explore as many alternatives to charging for parking at LFT as possible. In addition, a vision statement should be prepared because there is a financial goal and the larger environmental goal of reducing the number of vehicles using the Highway 101 corridor as well.
  • Director Stroeh commented that the District should hold a public hearing on the staff recommendation to provide premium parking for a fee.
  • Director Sears commented her agreement with Director Stroeh’s comment.
  • Director Arnold commented that she would prefer having both options discussed at this meeting investigated.
  • First Vice President Eddie commented that, in his view, available parking and the train are the best solution. Buses are subject to traffic delays, but trains are not. The availability of trains could improve the number of people who ride the ferries. He indicated his intention to discuss extending the train tracks to the LFT, rather than having them terminate in San Rafael.
     
  d.

Public Comment

David Schonbrunn, Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF), stated that he believes the current recommendation is financially driven. It indicates the District is disconnected from regional, state and national concerns about issues such as climate change. He suggested that the same license plate technology that will be used on the Bridge for toll collection could be used for every automobile arriving at the ferry terminal. Drop-offs could be keyed, so they would not be charged. He also stated that increasing non-driving access to LFT, in order to increase the number of passengers and thus the number of ferry trips, should be the District’s goal. Feeder buses could help the District reach that goal, but will be successful only if parking is not free. Thus, a choice would be available to ferry riders, and the District would be able to reach the broader goal of reducing traffic and the resultant air pollution. He suggested that the shuttle system could be funded by fees collected for parking, and that doing so would be likely to increase ridership.

Chair Grosboll indicated that a letter was received from Valerie Taylor, dated January 9, 2012, with her request that the letter become part of the public record. A copy of the letter is available from the Office on the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

     
  e. Continuance

Chair Grosboll reported that this item will be continued to a future meeting of the Transportation Committee to allow further discussion of possible alternatives.

     
3. Authorize the General Manager to Enter into and Amend Agreements with the Marin County Transit District Relative to Ownership of Paratransit Vehicles
     
  a. Staff Report

In a memorandum to Committee, Access and Compliance Planner Harvey Katz, Planning Director Ron Downing, Deputy General Manager/Bus Transit Division Teri Mantony and General Manager Denis Mulligan reported on staff’s recommendation to authorize the General Manager to approve actions relative to ownership of Paratransit Vehicles.

The staff report stated that the Board, by Resolution 2011-050 at its meeting of June 10, 2011, approved execution of the FY 11/12 Intercounty Paratransit Services Agreement (Paratransit Agreement) with the Marin County Transit District (MCTD), to facilitate compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Acts (ADA) to provide complementary paratransit service for its regional fixed-route service.

The staff report also stated that various funding arrangements have been in place over the past several years to address capital investments, fuel, radio service purchased from the Marin Emergency Radio Authority (MERA), and a mobile data communication system. Under the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) rules for federal funds used to purchase paratransit vehicles, the District may pass federal funds through to a Subgrantee that, like the MCTD, is not an eligible recipient of direct federal funding. As a Subgrantee, the MCTD is responsible to the District for complying with all federal grant requirements, and the District, as Grantee, is responsible to the FTA for compliance.

The staff report further stated that the MCTD is now interested in separating ownership of vehicle assets, currently shared by the District, the MCTD, and in some cases, Whistlestop Wheels, MCTD’s contractor for inter-county paratransit services, such that the agencies will each have sole title to particular vehicles. The District will take sole ownership of the equivalent of 25 percent of the current total MCTD paratransit fleet of 56, by purchasing on its own initiative 14 of the 17 vehicles programmed for replacement in the current fiscal year, with funding through the FTA’s Section 5307 funding program, and the District to pay the local match. Based on current paratransit demand, these 14 vehicles should provide a sufficient size fleet in the event the MCTD and District sever ties.

The staff report also stated that amendment to the Paratransit Agreement will allow the MCTD to procure and own five new paratransit vehicles, for which MCTD will provide the entire local match, except for $9,754.00 to be paid by the District, which reflects the MCTD’s share of an insurance settlement from a totaled vehicle previously owned jointly by the two agencies. All vehicles will be put into a pool, and any vehicle can be used on any of the services.

A copy of the staff report is available from the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

     
  b.

Presentation of Staff Report

At the meeting, Ms. Mantony stated that staff proposes three actions, as presented in the staff report. She indicated that the District had inadvertently overpaid its share of costs regarding vehicles purchased jointly in 2008. Specifically, there was to be a full local match but, because old formulas were used, the District overpaid, and is now due a refund. She stated that the amount of the refund would be approximately $46,000.00.

Ms. Mantony stated that, secondly, staff recommends that the District amend the current Paratransit Agreement, which was approved by the Board in June 2011, to provide that the District shall take sole ownership of the equivalent of 25% of the current total Marin County paratransit fleet of 56 by purchasing 14 of the 17 vehicles programmed for replacement in the current fiscal year.
She indicated that, third, the MCTD would prefer to use minivans rather than minibuses, due to the low paratransit ridership. The District would convert two minibuses to minivans, with the result that the MCTD would be able to run five paratransit vehicles for the same cost as three others. She stated that a new Paratransit Agreement would be required to cover these five vehicles.

     
  c. Discussion by the Committee

Discussion ensued, including the following inquiries and comment:

  • Director Pahre made the following inquiries:
    • She inquired as to whether the conversion to minivans, coupled with the greater ease of severance, would be in the best interests of the District. In response, Mr. Mulligan stated that the District and the MCTD have had a long-term relationship, and streamlining certain conditions can improve the ability of both entities to provide higher quality public transportation. The District does not wish to encourage severance; however, the MCTD wishes to hold title to its own vehicles at this time.
    • She inquired as to whether the District would incur costs for the conversion of minibuses to minivans. Ms. Mantony responded in the negative.
  • Director Cochran inquired as to whether the MCTD would begin paying more in maintenance costs. In response, Ms. Mantony stated that maintenance costs are detailed within the contract. She noted that the MCTD routes have many stops with relatively short distances between stops, and that the District, by comparison, has fewer stops with longer distances between stops. Therefore, maintenance costs are factored into the amounts for which each entity is responsible.
  • Director Grosboll made the following inquiries:
    • He inquired as to whether the MCTD is in agreement with the calculations regarding maintenance costs. Ms. Mantony responded affirmatively.
    • He inquired as to whether a cost to the District is associated with the methodology change for determining cost sharing of capital equipment and to allocate responsibility for the procurement of new paratransit vehicles during the current year referred to in the staff report, and the procurement of five additional paratransit vehicles to be owned by MCTD and used in inter-county service. Ms. Mantony responded in the negative.
     
  d. Remarks by MCTD General Manager David Rzepinski

David Rzepinski, General Manager, MCTD, reported that he wishes to make it clear to the Committee that the MCTD provided the calculations for the Paratransit Agreement. He indicated that the MCTD wishes to pursue title to the capital equipment they use, and reciting the details in the Paratransit Agreement was thought to be the cleanest method to arrive at the desired result. He stated that the District and the MCTD will continue to have separate accounts, but that the action requested today is a precautionary measure. He also stated that, if the District wishes to amend the Paratransit Agreement, negotiations can take place. The existing Paratransit Agreement is in its third year. He concluded by stating that the MCTD’s contractor, Whistlestop Wheels, would continue to provide the same services in the same fashion as they do currently.

     
  e. Action by the Committee

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

RECOMMENDATION

The Finance-Auditing Committee/Committee of the Whole recommends that the Board of Directors approve actions relative to ownership of Paratransit Vehicles, as follows:

    a. Authorize amendment of the 2007 Pass-through Agreement with Marin County Transit District (MCTD) for the procurement of paratransit vehicles, to reflect an overpayment by the District and a refund by MCTD;
    b. Authorize amendment of the June 2011 Inter-County Paratransit Services Agreement with MCTD to reflect a change in methodology for determining cost sharing of capital equipment and to allocate responsibility for the procurement of new paratransit vehicles during the current year; and,
    c. Authorize entering into a new Pass-through Agreement with MCTD for the procurement of five additional paratransit vehicles to be owned by MCTD and used in inter-county service.
     
Action by the Board at its meeting of January 13, 2012 – Resolution
NON-CONSENT CALENDAR
     
4.

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

   
  a. Remarks by District General Manager

Mr. Mulligan reported that a letter, dated January 3, 2012, was received by the District from the MCTD on January 6, 2012, from MCTD General Manager David Rzepinski. It is a formality and negotiations are underway at this time. He concluded by stating that the District and the MCTD have been providing public transportation in partnership for a period of approximately forty years, and at this time, no intent to terminate the relationship is contemplated.

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

    a. A spreadsheet from the Auditor-Controller outlining the history of payments made from July 1, 2011 to December 22, 2011, by the MCTD to the District, for intra-county bus transit services in Marin County; and,
    b. A copy of the Notice of Intent letter from the MCTD to the District, dated January 3, 2012, and received by the District on January 6, 2012.
       
    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. MCTD Board Meeting Packet for November 21, 2011;
    b. Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) Board Minutes of October 27, 2011;
    c. TAM Revised Board Agenda for December 1, 2011;
    d. TAM Executive Committee Minutes for October 10, 2011; and,
    e. TAM Executive Committee Agenda for Special Meeting of November 7, 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 10:45 a.m.

     

 

Respectfully submitted,

s/ Dick Grosboll, Chair
Transportation Committee