CENTRE AREA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

REGULAR BOARD MEETING MINUTES

October 23, 2000

4:00 p.m.

STATE COLLEGE BOROUGH COUNCIL CHAMBERS

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:

Robert Link, Chairman

John Spychalski, Vice-Chairman

Richard Kipp, Treasurer

Joseph Davidson

Donald Sherman

OTHERS PRESENT:

Hugh Mose, General Manager

Joseph Gilbert, Director of Transportation

Judith Minor, Director of Administration

L. Eric Bernier, Director of Service Development

Diane Heichel, Executive Assistant

Richard McCarl, State College Borough Liaison

Dennis Conaway, CATA Purchasing & Inventory Control Clerk

Jacqueline Malone, CATA Marketing Coordinator


I. CALL TO ORDER

Vice-Chairman Spychalski called the meeting to order at 4:09 p.m.

 

II. PUBLIC COMMENTS - CITIZEN INPUT

Vice-Chairman Spychalski called for comments or input from the general public. No public comments were presented.

 

III. OLD BUSINESS

    A. Approval of Minutes of August 28, 2000 Board Meeting

Mr. Sherman moved that the Board approve the minutes of the August 28, 2000 Board meeting. Mr. Kipp seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Vice-Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

    B. Receipt of the June, July, August and September 2000 Finance Reports

Ms. Minor noted that the Finance Reports were held for completion pending receipt of the FY 1999/00 audit, adding that the June Finance Reports are reflected in the year-end audit. Ms. Minor reported that the Authority has exhausted the ACT 3 carryover, adding that since the carryover is no longer available, the federal operating assistance will increase this year.

Ms. Minor reviewed the line items that exceeded the projected budget for the year, mentioning building equipment maintenance and vehicle maintenance, adding that there is a credit in June for the year-end inventory adjustment.

In response to Mr. Spychalski, Mr. Conaway noted that there are some obsolete bus parts in inventory, adding that some of those parts may be interchangeable on the recently-purchased Gilligs. Mr. Mose introduced Mr. Conaway as CATA's Purchasing and Inventory Control Clerk. Mr. Mose also introduced Ms. Jackie Malone, CATA's new Marketing Coordinator.

Mr. Mose noted that the bottom line was that CATA was 3.7% over budget for the year, which was anticipated with the additional service hours and overtime for drivers needed during the year. In response to Mr. Sherman, Ms. Minor noted that revenue vehicle maintenance is a very unpredictable item, but staff has set the FY 2000/2001 budget as close to what is anticipated as possible.

Ms. Minor reviewed the September Finance Reports which reflect the year-to-date totals, mentioning that the Authority was considerably over budget for service vehicle maintenance and shelter/sign maintenance.

Mr. Mose noted that OnePass sales are down about 10%, adding that there are more riders using apartment passes than ever before. Ridership was up substantially, even with fewer full service days in September than last year. Mr. Spychalski noted that he would like to see more statistics on passes purchased, such as which routes have the highest usage of OnePasses and which routes are being affected by the drop in pass sales. Mr. Bernier noted that several years ago, staff intentionally moved riders toward using cash and tokens, rather than passes. Ms. Minor noted that the decrease represented only about 100 passes and that with the new Pointe complex, a pass sale decrease was anticipated.

Chairman Link joined the meeting and assumed the Chair. Mr. Kipp moved that the Board receive the June, July, August and September 2000 Finance Reports. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Link called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

 

C. FY 99/00 Service Standards Final Report

Mr. Bernier reviewed the Service Standards Year-end Report for July 2000 and a five-year comparison chart included in the Board Packets. In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Bernier noted that PennDOT compares the Service Standards with other transit systems across the state. Ms. Minor noted that this was a legislative requirement put into effect in 1991. Staff agreed that the standards are more useful for analyzing the Authority's performance from year to year. Mr. Bernier reviewed the comparisons and how they reflect the decrease and increase in service.

In response to Mr. McCarl, Mr. Bernier and Ms. Minor reviewed the standards and how they are calculated. Mr. Bernier noted that there was a significant increase in passengers and not as much increase in service last year. Mr. Mose added that the categories and criteria are developed by PennDOT and some do not provide much useful information to the Authority.

In response to Mr. Kipp, Mr. Bernier stated that the LOOPs are the biggest contributing factor to the ridership numbers. Mr. Bernier also pointed out that the service added this year will be less cost effective and thus will cause certain standards to decrease.

Mr. Spychalski moved that the Board accept the FY 1999/00 Service Standards Report. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Link called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

 

IV. NEW BUSINESS

    A. Receipt of 1999/00 Audited Financial Statements

Ms. Minor noted that Reinsel and Company, the Authority's audit firm, is responsible for preparing both year-end financial statements and the federally-required single audit report, which includes information on federal grant activity and compliance with federal requirements. The financial statements and single audit report enclosed in the Board packets are now complete; the information included in the audit is reflected in the final June Finance Reports distributed in the Board packets. The single audit report again notes the same reportable condition regarding segregation of accounting duties that was noted in previous years. As stated last year, the condition is fairly common in small entities and should not cause undue concern. However, staff met with the auditors concerning their specific recommendations on this issue and are awaiting their report in order to determine what changes, if any, can be made to remove the reportable condition before next year's audit.

In response to Mr. Sherman, Ms. Minor noted that it is up to the Board either to add staff to rectify this situation or accept this reportable condition.

Ms. Minor noted that the financial reports, which include capital funding and depreciation, must be adjusted to reconcile the reports to CATA's operating expenses and revenues. The financial statement reflects the numbers in the June Finance Report. In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Spychalski noted that the auditor's note stating "Operation within Centre County", rather than the Centre Region, is correct.

Mr. Davidson moved that the Board receive the FY1999/00 year-end financial audit and single audit report and authorize their distribution. Mr. Kipp seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Link called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

    B. Resolution Authorizing Filing of FY 00/01 Federal Formula Assistance Grant

Ms. Minor reviewed the resolution included in the Board packets for filing for federal operating and/or capital funds. With the FFY 00/01 Transportation Authorization Bill about to be signed, staff will soon be preparing the annual grant application for formula funding (capital and operating assistance) under Section 5307 (formerly Section 9). Staff expects the total amount for the new year to be essentially unchanged from the previous year's allocation of $733,681; as shown in the annual budget, $100,000 will be programmed for capital projects, with the balance slated for operating assistance.

Mr. Spychalski moved that the Board adopt the enclosed resolution authorizing the filing of CATA's FY 00/01 federal formula assistance grant. Mr. Kipp seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Link called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

    C. Alternative Fuel Incentive Grant (AFIG) Application

Ms. Minor asked the Board to recall that the Authority has successfully applied for funding under Pennsylvania's Alternative Fuel Incentive Grant program for various activities associated with its use of CNG fuel. In the past, AFIG grants have partially financed construction of CATA's CNG fueling station, CNG bus acquisitions, and expansion of the fueling facility with the addition of CNG storage cylinders.

As the fixed route fleet is converted to CNG buses, staff has identified the need for a second CNG dispenser as critical towards providing system redundancy in the event that the existing dispenser should fail or be damaged. A Public Transportation Assistance Fund (PTAF) application for this project has already been approved. However, in order to supplement the PTAF budget and to allow any unspent PTAF funds to be retained for other projects, staff is preparing an application for AFIG funding to finance 30% of the total estimated project cost of $135,000. The application is due November 1 and does not require a resolution.

In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Mose noted that staff feels this is necessary in case the first dispenser should be inoperative, but it will also add efficiency to the fueling process. Mr. Mose also added that the fueling dispenser at the Uni-Mart is not a fast-fuel dispenser and the entire fleet could not be fueled overnight in time for the next morning. Mr. Gilbert added that the Uni-Mart dispenser is not reliable and CATA does a lot of back-up fueling of CNG vehicles for Uni-Mart.

    D. Section 5310 Application for Centre Ride Vehicles

Ms. Minor noted that each year, PennDOT invites application for funding under Section 5310 (formerly Section 16) for projects related to the transportation of seniors and persons with disabilities. This year, with three of the Authority's four lift-equipped Centre Ride vans having reached the end of their 5-year useful lives, staff is preparing a Section 5310 application to fund 80% of the total cost ($174,300) for replacement vehicles.

Ms. Minor stated that no resolution is required for this application.

    E. Pennsylvania Cooperative Purchasing Program

Mr. Conaway reported that local public entities such as CATA are permitted to participate in the cooperative purchasing program administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Participation in this program would present several advantages to CATA including the time and out-of pocket costs associated with the competitive bidding process, as well as the need to bid at all in certain instances. For those items that would be competitively bid (the state pricing is not always the lowest price available at the time) an additional comparative price would be available to CATA. There are many products and services available to participants, with the most immediate opportunity for CATA being the purchase of a new pick-up truck.

In response to Mr. Kipp, Mr. Conaway noted that this resolution does not require CATA to use this program to make a purchase, it simply allows the authority to use this option.

Mr. Spychalski moved that the Board of Directors approve the resolution authorizing the Authority to participate in the Pennsylvania Cooperative Purchasing Program and authorize the staff to execute the application. Mr. Kipp seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Link called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

    F. Memorandum of Agreement: CATA and Centre Regional Planning Commission

Mr. Mose reported that earlier this year, in an effort to get things moving on a site evaluation study for a facility to replace the current Intercity Bus Terminal, CATA agreed that if the Centre Regional Planning Agency (CRPA) could get PennDOT Supplemental Planning funds to support the project, CATA would act as project administrator. With funding now awarded, the Authority needs to execute an agreement to spell out how the money will be passed through to CATA.

The project budget of $40,000 will be funded by a combination of PennDOT Supplemental Planning funds and local match provided by the CRPA. There are no CATA funds involved, although the Authority will contribute staff time and a limited amount of in-kind services. A draft Memorandum of Agreement is enclosed with this agenda.

Mr. Mose noted that during the time it took for the funding to be received, the CRPA hired Bill Tobin as its third Transportation Planner, with the understanding that half of his time would be spent on CATA's transit planning. As a result, although CATA is administering the project, and will be responsible for selecting a consultant and overseeing his work, the actual project management responsibilities have been delegated to Bill Tobin.

In response to Mr. McCarl, Mr. Mose explained that this study is to make recommendations for a new site, but no capital money has been designated for construction of a new Intercity Bus Terminal. This simply begins the process. Mr. Mose will provide the Board with a list of the Selection Oversight Committee.

Mr. Davidson moved that the Board authorize the Chairman to execute the Memorandum of Agreement between the Centre Regional Planning Commission and CATA. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Link called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

    G. Intermodal Transportation Center Consultant Selection

Mr. Mose noted that as stated in the previous agenda item, it will be the responsibility of CATA, as project administrator, to enter into an agreement with a consultant to conduct the Intermodal Transportation Center site evaluation study. Because of the nature of the project, a committee comprised of stakeholder representatives (Penn State, State College Borough and other affected municipalities, Greyhound, Fullington, Handy Delivery, CATA, etc.) was formed to provide project oversight.

In September the Committee issued a Request for Proposals for consultant services. Seven firms submitted proposals, from which the Committee selected four finalists for interviews. The interviews, which were conducted this past Wednesday; eliminated two of the finalists, leaving two firms in the running. The committee is presently checking references. Depending on the outcome of the responses, the Committee is expected to choose either Abrams-Cherwony and Associates of Philadelphia, in association with Norman Day and Associates, or Wendel-Duchscherer Associates of Buffalo.

In an effort to move the project along, the Board is asked to take action on the assumption that the Committee will choose one of these two firms as the highest ranked consultant. Should that not be the case, staff will come back to the Board with an alternative recommendation at the November Board meeting.

Mr. Spychalski moved that the Board authorize the General Manager to negotiate a contract with the company the committee recommends, in an amount not to exceed $40,000, to conduct a site feasibility study for an Intermodal Transportation Center. Mr. Kipp seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Link called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

    H. Replica Trolleys

Mr. Mose referred to the memo included in the Board packets which described recent discussions with PSU and downtown stakeholders related to the acquisition of replica trolleys, and discusses possible CATA involvement.

Mr. Mose noted that this would not normally be a move he would recommend for CATA to make, but perhaps as a partnership with another entity, it may be more acceptable to the Board to consider the purchase of one or two trolleys. A trolley is a very unique vehicle, but not one that the general everyday rider will find suitable for regular service. In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Mose noted that a CNG powered trolley is available, but very expensive. The replica trolleys are small, carrying maybe 35 - 40 people. Although there are now larger 40' trolleys, they lose the ambiance of the look of the trolley.

Chairman Link expressed his thought that the Authority is in need of regular transit buses, rather than trolleys. However, if another entity was willing to subsidize some of the costs, he may be able to consider the purchase.

No Board action was required at this time. Mr. Mose will keep the Board informed of the ongoing discussions both with Penn State and other interested parties.

    I. Free-Fare Zone

Mr. Mose referred to the copy of a memo sent to the Board previously with a bi-weekly report. Mr. Mose then reviewed the recent discussions with Penn State regarding a free-fare zone for all Centre Line buses on Campus and in the downtown area, and expressed his feeling that the importance placed on this project by the University warrants the Authority's further consideration.

Mr. Mose noted that this may be a way to maximize the use of buses on campus and downtown, reducing the overcrowding on the LOOPs and utilizing the empty seats on Centre Line buses. Mr. Mose suggested implementing a pilot program following Spring Break, adding that if it should become a problem, the system could be switched back after the end of the Spring Semester.

Mr. Mose reviewed three of the most important issues to be considered: the possibility of overcrowding on Centre Line Buses and disrupting the commuter riders; rider confusion as to which bus to use; and the fare collection for riders leaving the free-fare zone.

Mr. Spychalski noted that he feels the external conditions are such that the Board cannot ignore the need to at least give this a try. Mr. Davidson noted that he feels there needs to be clear criteria to measure the success of this program. He stressed that an important component will be the effect this will have on our regular riders, adding that revenue should also be an evaluating criteria. The expected results need to be clear before implementing the program.

There was additional discussion regarding the confusion to the riders and the length of time necessary to give the program a fair trial. Mr. Mose agreed to put the program together and get back to the Board with a formal proposal at the December meeting.

In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Mose noted that the highest number of bicycles carried on one day was as high as 53-56 bikes, with an average of about 35 bikes a day. This does not necessarily mean each bike rode two times, people normally ride the bus one-way and then use their bikes going the other way. Mr. Mose added that he was surprised at the number of bikes taken on the LOOPs, stating that about 3/4 of the bikes are on Centre Line and 1/4 on the LOOPs.

In response to Mr. Kipp, Mr. Mose reported on the most recent meeting on Penn State's Transportation Plan. The University is just now getting ready to send out a Request For Proposals (RFP) for a consultant. It will be at least another six weeks or more before Mr. Mose would have any further information on what percentage of the entire program will be transit related. Mr. Mose added that the RFP was entirely focused on traffic and road closures, with next to nothing on transit. He feels this was an oversight and has been assured that they are planning on having some transit involvement.

 

V. OTHER BUSINESS

    A. General Manager's Report

In response to Mr. Mose, Mr. Conaway reported that it looks like the futures price for fuel will continue to increase, possibly fluctuating between $1.00 and $1.15 for diesel. Ms. Minor noted that the price for CNG declined last week, but has increased again this week. In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Conaway noted that he will check with the PA Cooperative Buying Program on purchasing diesel fuel.

Mr. Mose noted that the football shuttle carried over 3,400 riders, even though good weather days generally have lower ridership.

Mr. Mose will be traveling with the International Transit Studies Program for the next two weeks. Mr. Bernier will be in charge in Mr. Mose's absence.

Mr. Mose noted that as soon as President Clinton signs the bill which includes the $1.6M earmark for CATA, staff will begin the process to purchase more buses.

 

VI. ADJOURNMENT

Mr. Spychalski moved for adjournment. Chairman Link adjourned the meeting at 5:40 p.m.