CENTRE AREA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

REGULAR BOARD MEETING MINUTES

November 27, 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


I. CALL TO ORDER

Chairman Link called the meeting to order at 4:04 p.m.





II. PUBLIC COMMENTS - CITIZEN INPUT

Chairman Link called for comments or input from the general public. No public comments were presented.





III. OLD BUSINESS



A. Approval of Minutes of October 23, 2000 Board Meeting

Mr. Spychalski moved that the Board approve the minutes of the October 23, 2000 Board meeting as presented. Mr. Davidson seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Link called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.



B. Receipt of the October 2000 Finance Reports

Ms. Minor reported that the budget seems to be in order. Mr. Spychalski noted that the service vehicle maintenance continues to be over budget, suggesting that this be reviewed closely for next year's budget. Ms. Minor also pointed out that there are more service vehicles in operation this year than originally budgeted for.



Mr. Spychalski moved that the Board receive the October 2000 Finance Reports. Mr. Davidson seconded the motion.



Mr. Mose noted that if the LINK and LOOPs are not considered, ridership for the month is up 18.1%. With one fewer weekday this October compared to last year, this is not quite as significant an increase as it may seem, but it's still an increase over last year.



Ms. Minor reported that although the number of passes sold seems to be down, the actual pass revenue is up. She explained that the lower number of passes sold may mean that more people are purchasing longer term passes, rather than month by month. In response to Chairman Link, Ms. Minor noted that this does not include apartment passes which are purchase-of-service, rather than pass sales. Mr. Davidson suggested looking at the trends in pass sales more closely. Ms. Minor assured the Board that she keeps close watch on all pass sales.

There being no further discussion, Chairman Link called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.



C. Trip Report - International Transit Studies Program

Mr. Mose reported on his trip to The Netherlands and Germany and the strategies and technologies that he feels might have some direct applicability here at CATA. Mr. Mose noted that over the course of two weeks the study team visited twelve different transit systems, each of which had some particular area of excellence.



Mr. Mose thanked the Board for nominating him to participate in this trip. Mr. Spychalski reviewed the background and origin of the Enos Transportation Foundation.



Mr. Mose went on to point out the main points he found interesting in each system visited, mentioning the widespread use of low-floor and articulated buses. Many of the systems were in the process of privatization and very entrepreneurial. There was more focus on customer service than in the United States. Mr. Mose also noted the advanced technology used such as automated passenger counter systems and vehicle locator systems. Mr. Mose also noted that one system is developing a diesel/electric bus with duel driving trans, which allows the bus to turn in its own length.



Mr. Mose also announced that he has been invited to serve on the Enos Transportation Foundation Board of Advisors. Mr. Spychalski expressed his feelings that this would be a great honor to serve on such a prestigious foundation. Chairman Link and the Board agreed.





IV. NEW BUSINESS

A. Signal Preemption Project

Mr. Bill Tobin, Transportation Planner for the Centre Regional Planning Agency, reported that PennDOT has encouraged CATA to work with the Alpha Fire Company and local municipalities on a signal preemption demonstration program that is expected to enable transit buses to gain some degree of running time advantage over the general traffic.



Regarding the Alpha Fire Company's part of the project, Mr. Tobin referred to the memo included in the Board packet which lists the steering committee and provides further details. The committee has selected the infrared "optical" technology. The bids will go out on December 10, be reviewed on January 24, and be presented to the General Forum in February, with a system being implemented in March 2001.



Regarding the proposed CATA program, Mr. Tobin went on to note that the tentative plan is to install the system on 14 intersections in the North Atherton corridor, so that all, or nearly all, of the signals on the N and V Routes are equipped. However, before anything is built thorough evaluation will be conducted.



In response to Chairman Link, Mr. Tobin noted that the new fire station on North Atherton in Patton Township may be included, but the intersection at Vairo and Atherton may have to wait until the next funding cycle. Mr. Tobin also reviewed the three kinds of technology; Global; global positioning system, which uses satellites to track vehicle locations; siren, which would allow the siren from an emergency vehicle to activate the lights; and optical, where a light beam would activate the system.



Mr. Mose went on to review the past discussion on possible ways to improve the bus service to the more populated areas. A rapid transit service was not viewed as desirable in this area, however, the Signal Preemption system may work well.



Mr. Tobin explained that the Alphas have the funding already in place for the system to be installed on Beaver Avenue, and that funding could serve as the local share for CATA's portion of the project on North Atherton Street. Mr. McCarl expressed his concern of the expense of the system just to manipulate the traffic lights, adding that there was never any mention of using this system for the buses.



In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Tobin noted that each unit per bus would be about $1,000, plus $150 for installation. In response to Mr. Spychalski, Mr. Tobin noted that these are very low maintenance units with a long life expectancy.



Mr. Mose noted that there are several issues still to be resolved, such as the funding, the maintenance, and additional research on the system. Mr. Mose also noted that there is some resistance from emergency service providers at having the system used by buses. Another concern is coming from the PennDOT traffic engineers.



No Board action was required.



B. Bus Procurement

Mr. Mose noted that since CATA is the recipient of a $1.6 million bus capital earmark in the new federal Transportation Appropriations Bill, decisions need to be made on what size and kind of buses to purchase. Mr. Mose reported that this amount of funding should be sufficient to purchase six 40' CNG-powered low-floor buses, but the Authority might also consider whether it would make sense to buy something larger.



Mr. Mose reminded the Board that some years ago, the Authority considered purchasing and even tried an articulated bus in the system. Mr. Mose went on to propose that the Board may want to consider articulated buses in the next bus purchase. At this time, at least one manufacturer is now advertising CNG-powered articulated buses.



Before a commitment is made to the procurement of 40' coaches, Mr. Mose noted that he would like to do a little bit of research on the pros and cons of articulated buses, specifically to look at the operational and maintenance issues, as well as a cost/benefit analysis. Mr. Mose would like to have Mr. Gilbert and several of his staff visit one or more systems that operate "artics," and maybe even arrange to borrow one so that staff can gauge community response.



Mr. Mose stated that because the use of such big buses will be so noticeable (and also perhaps somewhat controversial) in our small community, before CATA would even begin to consider them he would like to be sure that the Board is comfortable with the idea.



In response to Chairman Link, Mr. Gilbert noted that there are trippers run on the North Atherton corridor to Vairo Blvd. all day long during the semester. Mr. Spychalski noted that when an articulated bus was tried on the system years ago, it was not a failure and made the turns very nicely. His main concern would be with the accessibility requirements and maintenance training and facilities.



Mr. Mose noted that as many riders can be carried on two articulated buses as three regular buses. He estimated that the cost would be about $450,000 for a CNG articulated bus, although the extra cost would be more than offset by the savings associated with needing fewer drivers.



The Board instructed staff to investigate further on the purchase and use of articulated buses.



C. B Route Ridership

Mr. Bernier reviewed the memo he had prepared for the Harris Township Supervisors, which details the ridership growth experienced this year on the B (Boalsburg) Route. The B Route ridership is up over 100% compared to this time last year. While there are several contributing factors, it appears that the additional trips which were added this fall have proved to be very beneficial to the overall Harris Township service.



Mr. Bernier noted that the expanded service which combined the T and B Routes and the extra trips, were implemented with certain conditions by Harris Township. The report shows the increase in ridership and how the route is now being used. Roughly 80% of the riders are using the service between Boalsburg and PSU Campus.





In response to Mr. Kipp, Mr. Bernier agreed that there may be a need to use a larger bus on certain trips. Mr. Kipp noted that students board the bus on University Drive and thus they may stand for only a few minutes getting to campus. This only happens when the B bus reaches University Drive before the SP. Mr. Kipp also noted that he sees people on the bus which he has never seen ride before.



Mr. Davidson suggested doing the same type of study on other routes, such as the C Route in Houserville. Mr. Bernier noted the amount of staff time necessary to do such a study and CATA's limited staff resources. There was further discussion about marketing individual routes.



No Board action was required.



D. Unlawful Harassment Policy

Ms. Minor, referring to the Unlawful Harassment Policy included in the Board packets, reported that, as recommended by CATA's insurance carrier and attorney, CATA's policy against unlawful harassment has been revised to incorporate additional provisions, time frames for complaint actions, and other suggested changes. Because the policy applies to all representatives of CATA, including Board members, Attorney Martin indicated that the policy should be adopted by the Board of Directors.



In response to Mr. Sherman, Ms. Minor noted that the reference to a non-employee is one thing that may need further clarification. Harassment could come from a customer, vendor, or spouse of an employee, rather than just a fellow employee.



Mr. Davidson moved that the Board of Directors adopt the enclosed Unlawful Harassment Policy and authorize its posting and distribution. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Link called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.



E. December Board Meeting

Mr. Mose noted that since the regular December Board meeting falls on Christmas Day, it would be necessary to change the meeting date to December 18. However, since there are no specific agenda items mandating a December Board meeting, it is staff's recommendation to cancel the regular December meeting.



Mr. Spychalski moved that the Board approve canceling the December meeting due to a lack of agenda items. Mr. Davidson seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Link called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.





V. OTHER BUSINESS



A. General Manager's Report

Mr. Mose noted that his every-other-week report captured all the recent activities.



B. Service Development Report

Mr. Bernier asked the Board to review the reports distributed at the meeting. There was a short discussion on the agreement with the North Atherton Place Wal-Mart and the new kiosk at College and Allen.



VI. ADJOURNMENT



There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:52 p.m.