CENTRE AREA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

REGULAR BOARD MEETING

MINUTES

June 4, 2001

4:00 p.m.

STATE COLLEGE BOROUGH COUNCIL CHAMBERS

 

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:

John Spychalski, Chairman

Donald Sherman, Vice Chairman

Richard Kipp, Treasurer

Joseph Davidson

Gary Powers

 

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, Borough Liaison

Bill Tobin, Transit Planner

 

I. CALL TO ORDER

Chairman Spychalski called the meeting to order at 4:01 p.m.

 

 

II. PUBLIC HEARING ON 2001-2002 SERVICE STANDARDS

Mr. Mose stated that PennDOT requires that the Authority hold a Public Hearing to give the public an opportunity to provide input on the proposed Service Standards.

Chairman Spychalski opened the floor for public comment on the proposed 2001-2002 Service Standards. No public comment was given. The Public Hearing was closed.

 

 

III. PUBLIC COMMENT

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

 

 

IV. OLD BUSINESS

A. Approval of Minutes of April 23, 2001 Board Meeting

Mr. Sherman moved that the Board approve the minutes of the April 23, 2001 Board meeting as presented. Mr. Powers seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

 

B. Receipt of the April 2001 Finance Reports

Ms. Minor reported that the Authority is now drawing on Federal Operating funds and she hopes to end the year within the Budget. She also noted that April expenditures look high due to three pay periods within that month and there was still significant overtime paid out, but that particular item should get better from here on.

Ms. Minor also noted that the Cash Balance page shows a negative amount because of the cutoff date for the bank.

Reviewing the April ridership report, Mr. Mose noted that ridership continues to increase.

 

 

Mr. Powers moved that the Board receive the April 2001 Finance Reports. Mr. Kipp seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

C. Adoption of FY 2001/02 Final Budget

Mr. Mose noted that he and several of the Board members have attended municipal meetings with little or no comments on the Budget, adding that last week the COG General Forum adopted the local shares. The Final Budget contains the same set of numbers that were in the Draft Budget.

Mr. Sherman moved that the Board adopt the FY 2001-02 Final Budget contingent upon the approval of local shares by each participating municipality. Mr. Powers seconded the motion.

In response to Mr. Powers, Ms. Minor noted that the Federal Operating Assistance of $995,417 includes approximately $200,000 in carryover. She is concerned that the carryover will be depleted by the end of FY 2001/2002.

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

 

D. Fall 2001 Service Changes

Mr. Mose reviewed the memo and the two system maps included with the Board packets, noting that what staff has tried to do is increase service in one area, along Branch Road, and combine several commuter routes to provide more efficient use of the bus fleet while maintaining a good level of service. Mr. Mose continued by briefly outlining the new routing and the reasoning behind the recommendations.

Mr. Bernier emphasized that the changes on the P Route are intended to address the requests from the residents at Mt. Nittany Residences. The changes will give a direct route between Mt. Nittany Residences and the Centre Community Hospital, while also offering evening and Saturday service and bi-directional service to Foxdale Village. Unfortunately, the new routing will mean increasing the 60 minute service to 70 or 75 minute intervals.

In response to Mr. Kipp’s compliments on the maps, Mr. Mose noted that Mr. Bernier produced the colored maps in-house.

In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Mose stated that he feels the proposed service changes will fall within the Budget, yet maximize customer service in several areas. Much of the unknown revenue service expenses will depend on the number of trippers necessary to meet the ridership demand for student apartment complexes.

Mr. Kipp moved that the Board adopt the Fall 2001 Service Changes as described by staff. Mr. Powers seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

 

E. Adoption of Proposed 2001-2002 Service Standards

Mr. Bernier reported that the Authority is required to advertise and adopt Service Standards and then measure them throughout the year. The document included in the Board packets reviews the five prior years’ performance, the current performance year and the proposed goals set for the upcoming year. Mr. Bernier reviewed the trends and what has affected them each year, pointing out how the no-fare LOOP impacted the performance levels.

Mr. Bernier also noted that the standards have been submitted to PennDOT and he anticipates their approval with no changes.

In response to Mr. McCarl, Mr. Bernier stated that CATA’s low cost per passenger has not proven to be counterproductive when negotiating with the University. Chairman Spychalski suggested that this information could be misleading and therefore could be used in ways that would not be favorable to the Authority. Therefore, he felt there is no need to place a greater emphasis on this information for the public.

In response to Mr. Powers, Mr. Bernier noted that the operating cost figures are derived from the FY 2001/02 Budget, and do not include capital expenditures. In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Bernier noted that Centre Ride is not included in these standards. Ms. Minor added that PennDOT is required to obtain this information in order to approve state funding grants.

Mr. Sherman moved that the Board adopt the 2001-2002 Service Standards as proposed. Mr. Powers seconded the motion.

Mr. Bernier noted that this is a legislatively mandated process which has generated little public interest. However, the seven year comparison shows trends which staff find helpful from time to time.

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

 

F. Campus/Downtown Free-Fare Zone

Mr. Mose referred to the memo included with the Board packets that discusses the Authority’s experience with the Free-Fare Zone. Mr. Mose added that of the three critical concerns, two proved to be non-issues, stating that there were never any reports of overcrowding; likewise, the only problem our drivers reported with fare-paying was with students from University Terrace apartments boarding the U Route and, thinking it was fare-free in its entirety, not wanting to show their passes.

Mr. Mose also reported that in spite of the dash cards, signs in the shelters and on the buses, press releases and a small amount of paid advertising, most campus riders never got comfortable with the fact that they could ride certain Centre Line buses fare-free. One problem reported by drivers was that the dash signs have been a hassle - made of plastic, they reflect light into the driver’s eyes, and if not positioned correctly, they can block the driver’s view. Chairman Spychalski suggested that if the reflective material is a problem, another material could be considered. If the dash signs are obstructing the driver’s view, then another identification should be considered.

Mr. Mose noted that with the lack of LOOP service in the summer, the free-fare trial program was continued past the end of the Spring Semester. In the absence of the LOOP, it was necessary to extend the program through the afternoon peak period, so the 4:00 pm cut-off was eliminated, apparently with no ill effects. Furthermore, in the summer, overcrowding is rarely a problem anywhere in the system, so if riders have wanted intra-campus service on other routes (for instance, to get from Pattee down to College and Allen), drivers have been authorized to carry them fare-free.

Mr. Mose stated that he feels the ridership will continue to grow, but he does not feel there will be a problem with overcrowding. Mr. Mose recommended that the service be continued, extending the service hours at least through the evening hours, adding routes where possible, and making any revisions as required.

Mr. Kipp moved that the Board authorize the continuation of the Free-Fare Zone for the upcoming academic year, with the revisions noted in the enclosed memo. Mr. Powers seconded the motion.

In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Mose noted that he does not believe that extending the hours will cause a problem with ridership. His recommendation would only extend the hours until 7:00 p.m. In response to Mr. Kipp, staff agreed that when it gets dark early in the winter, the dash signs would not be illuminated and therefore not easily visible.

In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Mose noted that the rider confusion may relate to the fact that some buses are free and some are not. As for the operational issues, it’s seen as just another thing that drivers need to deal with. Mr. Bernier added that he agrees that the service is beneficial, yet LOOP/LINK riders have not been quick to learn the routes; he feels it is a lot for the general public to relate to.

 

 

Mr. Gilbert added that the drivers become frustrated trying to educate the riders on the Free-fare Zone about which Centre Line buses can be used just like the LOOPs. Mr. Kipp suggested using LOOP ALT. for the signage. Mr. Bernier and Mr. Gilbert went over the problems the drivers have experienced and the riders’ difficulty learning which buses to use and where they go.

Chairman Spychalski pointed out that at the top policy level, the Authority still has to maintain a good relationship with a very powerful bargaining party - Penn State. The number of buses on campus continues to be a concern with University representatives who would like to limit bus access; however, this program certainly provides a strong argument for keeping Centre Line routes on campus. Chairman Spychalski maintained that CATA must tolerate the less than salutary operating dimensions of the program in order to satisfy some of the other issues.

Mr. Mose reviewed his recommendations to continue the program for another school term.

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

G. Operations/Administration Area Expansion Update

Mr. Mose reviewed the document titled Final Programming Report, included in the Board packets. This document contains the summary pages from the report put together by Gannett Fleming, CATA’s architect on the Operations/Administration Area Expansion project. Mr. Mose explained that this summarization was developed from the staff’s enumeration of space and equipment currently in use, as well as their individual wish-lists. From this information the architect will be developing three alternative designs, which should be available for review by mid-July. At that time, Mr. Mose noted that he’d like the architect to make a presentation to the Board, so that they can see the various approaches being considered and provide input. Also, expecting that collectively staff’s wants will exceed the Authority’s resources, Mr. Mose felt that the Board may want to weigh in on the prioritization process. Mr. Mose also reviewed the proposed project schedule.

Mr. Mose reported that since it is Bob Martin’s opinion that CATA cannot utilize the Construction Management technique, staff has been working on an alternative approach under which Alexander Constructors will act as CATA’s agent during construction, but CATA, rather than Alexander Constructors, would hold the contracts with the various trades. The Authority cannot, however, execute an agreement with Alexander Constructors until it is known if state funds or federal funds will be used for the construction phase. Therefore, staff plans to issue a letter of intent confirming the scope of work and the expected cost. Staff recommends some sort of binder because during the design phase Alexander (as a sub to Gannett-Fleming) will be working under the assumption that they will be involved in the actual construction. Because it is very likely the Board will not meet again until the end of July, Mr. Mose noted that staff would like the Board’s authorization to send such a letter, with the approval of the Board Chairman, once the price and work scope are finalized.

Mr. Sherman moved that the Board authorize the General Manager, with the concurrence of the Board Chairman, to issue a letter of intent to Alexander Constructors confirming CATA's intent to retain the firm to manage the construction phase of the Operations/Administration Area Expansion project. Mr. Kipp seconded the motion.

In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Mose explained that under Pennsylvania law four of the major trades need to contract directly with the Authority, so Alexander Constructors would be a direct agent for CATA. CATA would be in the position to make the decision to select each contractor and in doing such, the selection would need to go to the lowest bidder. Chairman Spychalski added that the selections would need to be brought before the Board for approval.

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

 

 

 

 

V. NEW BUSINESS

 

A. Code of Conduct

Ms. Minor reported that the Federal Transit Administration requires that each grantee establish a Code of Conduct as part of its procurement procedures, to govern employees, officers, Board members and agents who are engaged in the award or administration of third party contracts. Recently, the FTA has distributed updated guidance on "best practices" in developing these Codes. As a result, staff has drafted a revised Code of Conduct, to incorporate the recommendations and requirements outlined in the recent guidance.

Ms. Minor noted that the Code has been expanded to include the following:

 

Inclusion of Board members, as well as employees, officers and agents of CATA

A new section addressing organizational conflicts of interest

A more detailed section on gifts and gratuities

 

Mr. Powers moved that the Board adopt the revised Code of Conduct for inclusion in the Authority’s Procurement Policy. Mr. Davidson seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

 

B. Centre Ride Contract for 2001/02

Mr. Gilbert noted that the Authority contracts out the operation of ADA and senior citizen paratransit service. In 1998, the authority awarded a contract to Handy Delivery which included an option for CATA to extend the contract annually for three additional years (through June 30, 2002).

Mr. Gilbert stated that the present contract with Handy Delivery for the current year sets the rates at $7.85 and $12.65 per ambulatory and non-ambulatory trip respectively. For the upcoming fiscal year, Handy Delivery has requested a rate increase to $8.10 and $12.75 to cover what they consider to be normal increases in drivers’ wages, the significant rise in gasoline cost and other expenses. Mr. Gilbert added that over the years, Handy Delivery has kept their requests for rate increases at modest levels. At projected ridership levels this increase would result in an additional cost to CATA of approximately $8,000 for the upcoming year.

In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Gilbert stated that the Centre Ride vans are fueled at the CATA facility and then Handy Delivery reimburses CATA. In response to Mr. Sherman, Ms. Minor confirmed that the proposed prices are included in the budget.

Mr. Kipp moved that the Board authorize the General Manager to exercise the option to renew the current contract with Handy Delivery for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2001, with new rates of $8.10 per ambulatory and $12.75 per non-ambulatory passenger. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

C. Proposal for FY 2001/2002 - 2005/2006 Legal Services

Ms. Minor reported that proposals for legal services were last solicited in 1997 for the four-year period from July 1, 1997 through June 30, 2001; at that time, a contract was awarded to the firm of Lee, Martin, Green and Reiter. With the contract expiring at the end of the current fiscal year, a Request for Proposals was issued for legal services for the five-year period (the maximum permitted by the Federal Transit Administration for service contracts) from July 1, 2001 through June 30, 2006.

Ms. Minor noted that only one proposal, from our current solicitors, was received in response to the RFP. The hourly rates for each year of the contract period range from the current rate of $110 per hour to $130 per hour during the last year of the proposed contract. The quoted prices are lower than the firm’s general fees, represent minimal increases over the proposed contract period, and are reasonable, based on staff’s analysis of rates paid by State College Borough for similar services.

 

 

Mr. Davidson moved that the Board accept the proposal from Lee, Martin, Green and Reiter for legal services for the period beginning July 1, 2001 and ending June 30, 2006, at the rates and under the terms included in the proposal. Mr. Powers seconded the motion.

In response to comments, Mr. Mose noted that in such a small community, it’s probably well known among the law practices that the Authority is very satisfied with the service provided by Lee, Martin, Green and Reiter and therefore would not put the time into preparing a proposal. Chairman Spychalski noted that this firm would be hard to beat for their depth and breadth of service.

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

 

D. Resolution Approving the FY 01/02 Grant Request for Dedicated and Supplemental Public Transportation Assistance Funds under Act 26 of 1991 and Act 3 of 1997

Referring to the memo included in the Board packets that details the resolution for PTAF and Act 3 funding, Ms. Minor reviewed the major details and requirements for this funding and the two new projects being submitted.

Mr. Davidson moved that the Board adopt the enclosed resolution for FY 2001/02 Act 3 and Act 26 dedicated PTAF funds and direct that the grant application be submitted to PennDOT. Mr. Powers seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

E. Park-and-Ride Program

Mr. Mose, referring to his memo and letters from the Council of Governments (COG) and College Township, reported that during the budget review process, CATA was encouraged to take a more aggressive role in constructing, operating and providing bus service to park-and-ride lots, both within and outside of the CATA service area.

Mr. Mose outlined the three different kinds of park and ride programs, adding that staff has been trying to make the current Park-and-Ride program at Lot 44 work better, plus investigate outer lot possibilities. Mr. Mose also reported that Mr. Tobin may become involved with the Park and Ride lot project at Old Fort.

There was further discussion on the Authority’s position and how to respond to the requests from the municipalities and elected officials. Mr. Davidson outlined what he believes are College Township’s interests, stating the they would like to have CATA identify park-and-ride lots and pursue the funding to purchase, construct and maintain them. Mr. Tobin noted that it first needs to be determined whose responsibility it is to fund such lots.

 

Mr. Davidson added that College Township’s idea is to keep the cars as far out of the State College area as possible. Mr. Tobin noted that the further away from State College, the less expensive the land normally is. A lot constructed outside of the bus service area would then be designated for carpoolers and would fall under the RideShare program. Mr. Mose reviewed the frustration of the townships and their perception that CATA should be able fund this program. There was further discussion on possibly adding the cost of this program to the local shares in next year’s budget; however, Mr. Mose pointed out that under CATA’s Articles of Agreement local shares may not be used for programs outside of the municipalities.

Mr. Davidson stressed that CATA needs to respond to COG and outline CATA’s position. In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Tobin explained why it’s felt that CATA should manage such a program, stating that other transit authorities do manage park-and-ride lots, plus CATA may soon implement a park-and-ride lot at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg.

Mr. Davidson moved that the Board authorize the General Manager to write letters on the Board’s behalf outlining the actions taken to date to promote the development and utilization of park-and-ride lots, and describing the actions that CATA is prepared to take in the future. Mr. Powers seconded the motion.

In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Mose admitted that he may not have a complete understanding of the Board’s feelings on this issue. Mr. Bernier added that CATA needs to point out CATA’s limitations on funding and other resources. Chairman Spychalski suggested that CATA could at least offer some leadership.

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

F. Digital Pass Production System

Mr. Mose reported that over the past two months staff has solicited proposals from firms who supply the hardware and software to produce plastic photo ID bus passes. Five proposals were received, and after interviewing all five proposers, staff has determined that the system proposed by the IRIS Companies of Fleetwood, PA best meets CATA’s needs.

Referring to the sample passes in the Board packets, Mr. Mose went on to state that the system will allow staff to take digital photos, key in data, and produce PVC cards, much like the ID cards used at Penn State. Staff plans to purchase two stationary systems, one for the downtown office and a second for Cato Park, as well as a portable set-up that could be taken to apartment complexes and other venues for on-site pass production. The new digital approach may also allow CATA to download databases from the apartment complexes, which would simplify data entry and verification.

In response to Chairman Spychalski, Ms. Minor noted that the proposed system does not prevent pass fraud. Mr. Tobin noted that the time reduction for both staff and the customer is significant and the cards will be compatible with card readers for the GFI Genfare fareboxes if the Authority should decide to go with a swipe card system in the future. Mr. Mose noted that other opportunities may present themselves in the future. There was further discussion as to pass fraud.

Mr. Powers moved that the Board authorize staff to enter into a purchase agreement with the IRIS Companies for the purchase of a digital bus pass processing system, in an amount not to exceed $25,000. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion.

In response to Mr. Powers, Ms. Minor noted that this purchase is included under office equipment in the capital budget. In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Mose reviewed the planned utilization of computers for this project. There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

G. Summer Meeting Schedule

Mr. Mose noted that since the Budget and Service Standards have been adopted at this meeting, there are no anticipated business items which would mandate the regular June meeting. With this, plus the fact the Ms. Minor and he will be unavailable the end of June because of vacation schedules, it is staff’s recommendation that the June 25, 2001 regular Board meeting be cancelled.

Mr. Davidson moved that the Board cancel the regular June meeting due to a lack of agenda items. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

 

 

 

 

VI. OTHER BUSINESS

A. General Manager's Report

There were no additional items to report at this time.

 

B. Service Development Report

Mr. Bernier asked the Board to review the material on the Streaming Video which was included in the Board mailing.

Mr. Tobin reminded the Board to visit the Advanced Public Transportation System (APTS) Mobile Showcase to be on display in the Ferguson Township Building parking lot on June 19 and 20.

In response to Mr. Kipp, Mr. Gilbert stated that there have been no reports from drivers as to having the bike racks full and other bikers unable to ride.

 

 

VII. ADJOURNMENT

 

There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski adjourned the meeting to Executive Session at 5:50 p.m. to discuss personnel matters.

The Executive Session was adjourned at 6:40 p.m.