CENTRE AREA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

REGULAR BOARD MEETING

MINUTES

 

March 25, 2002

4:00 p.m.

STATE COLLEGE BOROUGH BUILDING

Conference Room 241,†† 243 South Allen Street

 

 

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

 

 


I.†††††† CALL TO ORDER

††† ††††† Chairman Spychalski called the meeting to order at 4:07p.m.

 

 

II.††††† PUBLIC COMMENT

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

 

 

III.††† OLD BUSINESS

 

††† ††††† A.††† Approval of Minutes of February 25, 2002 Board Meeting

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Sherman moved that the Board approve the minutes of the February 25, 2002 Board meeting.Mr. Kipp seconded the motion.

 

†††††††††††††††† Chairman Spychalski called the Boardís attention to Section V, Item A, noting that his comment should have stated that OPECís recent actions may have an effecton the cost of natural gas as well as diesel fuel.There being no further changes or corrections, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

 

††††††††† B.††† Receipt of the February 2002 Finance Reports

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Kipp moved that the Board receive the February Finance Reports.Mr. Powers seconded the motion.

 

†††††††††††††††† Ms. Minor reported that there was nothing out of the ordinary on the February report.

 

†††††††††††††††† In response to Mr. Powers, Ms. Minor noted that the farebox revenue does look very good, explaining how she calculates farebox revenue for the year.

 

Mr. Mose noted that ridership looks like itís up slightly, but added that ridership on Centre Line is actually down, while the LOOP and LINK ridership is up.Mr. Mose also stated that the area he cannot explain is the decline in ridership on Sundays.LOOP ridership has leveled off and Centre Line has declined.He feels the mild winter has had a negative affect on overall ridership.

 

 


†††††††††††††††† As with Centre Line, the weather has also had a negative affect on paratransit as well.Ms. Minor also added that normally a great deal of the Centre Ride patrons are from University Park Nursing Center, but their ridership has decreased dramatically.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Kipp noted that Harris Township ridership seems to be continually increasing.Mr. Mose pointed out that the Saturday ridership is what has increased on the B Route.He expressed his sense that this mainly represented patrons of the Tussey Mountain Ski Resort, adding that now that the ski season is over, this ridership will probably decrease.

 

Chairman Spychalski suggested that marketing efforts to encourage certain neighborhood ridership be redoubled.

 

†††††††††††††††† Ms. Minor noted that the signs and shelters line item shows a large credit which was a reimbursement for damages to a shelter; however, this should equal outwhen the repair bills come in.

 

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

 

††††††††† C.††† FY 2002/03 DRAFT Budget

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Mose noted that at the March 11 Work Session, the staff presented a Preliminary DRAFT Budget based on what it would cost to continue operating all the service which is presently running.Unfortunately, it has been determined that it will not be possible to continue at the current level of service and balance the budget.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Mose reviewed the FY 2002/03 DRAFT Budget Memo, pointing out the changes made since the preliminary DRAFT Budget was reviewed and discussed by the Board at the work session.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Mose discussed the projections for the current year budget and how he feels the year will end and what the carry-over should amount to.

 

†††††††††††††††† He noted that there were no changes in Operating Revenue since the impact of the fare increase and all the other income was already incorporated into the first DRAFT.

 

†††††††††††††††† In response to Mr. McCarl, Chairman Spychalski noted that although the Authority was hoping for a 25% increase in local shares, the COG Finance Committee was not supportive of any substantial increase in local shares.Therefore, the DRAFT Budget was built around an increase of only 5% from the local municipalities, meaning that there are no alternatives other than cutting service.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Mose reviewed the changes from the original DRAFT Budget, including service cuts, personnel cuts, and how the service cuts will be reflected in Fuel and Lubricants and Vehicle Maintenance costs.He also pointed out that with a larger administrative building, utilities will probably increase.

 

†††††††††††††††† In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Mose explained that Dues and Subscriptions, shows a 0% change, rather than zero dollars spent.He stressed that certain memberships have been canceled, but some memberships, such as APTA, are important and should be continued.Mr. Mose reviewed several other memberships and subscriptions which may not be continued.Chairman Spychalski expressed his disappointment at the Authorityís inability to continue to fully support important areas of transit such as the Public Transportation Partnership for Tomorrow (PT2).

 

†††††††††††††††† In response to Mr. Powers, Ms. Minor explained how the estimated $85,000 in federal carry over is calculated.

 

 

†††††††††††††††† In response to Mr. McCarl, Mr. Mose stated that there is no easy way to predict federal funding; however, under TEA-21 transit funding, there is some guaranteed funding for transit.Mr. Mose reviewed the Presidentís proposed budget for transportation, predicting that funding for transit will decline and funding for highways will increase.

 

†††††††††††††††† In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Mose stated that staff has done the best job possible to calculate the number of service hours and then translate this into dollars.†† Mr. Sherman asked if staff had a Plan B in case the numbers donít add up in the first few months.Mr. Mose stated that there really isnít a Plan B.Staff has tried to cut service at times and in places where ridership is low and service cuts will have the least negative impact on riders.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Davidson moved that the Board adopt the FY 2002/03 DRAFT Budget and authorize its completion and distribution by staff.Mr. Sherman seconded that motion.There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

 

††††††††† D.††† Fall Service Changes

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Mose, referring to the Agenda Items Memo, stated that he, Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Bernier and Mr. Tobin have been working on proposed service changes in order to balance the budget. Referring to the memo included in the Board packets, Mr. Mose pointed out that the service cuts affect almost every route.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Mose reviewed each route and the proposed service cuts, as well as the reasoning behind each change and/or reduction in service.Some of the adjustments will also allow for the same driver and vehicle to cover two different routes.Mr. Bernier stated that not only do the proposed changes need to meet the needs of the residents in the affected neighborhoods, but they must also meet the needs of the businesses the riders need to get to, such as hours and days of operation.

 

†††††††††††††††† In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Bernier noted that he did not have specific information on when buses return to the garage; however, the idea of using these buses as bonus trips to Cato Park has been considered in the past.Chairman Spychalski also pointed out that this would add extra service miles in those municipalities and therefore, affect the local shares.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Mose continued reviewing the proposed service changes, stressing how some of the service changes will maintain adequate headways, while reducing the number of buses used.He also stressed again that the service changes will affect the routes and trips which have generated the lowest ridership.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Mose also noted that in the past couple of years, service has been operated on the Fourth of July and other holidays.Although stores are open and people need to get to work, holiday service is expensive and therefore July Fourth and Memorial Day service will be discontinued.

 

Chairman Spychalski stated that although the Board does not need to vote on this item, he invited the Boardís views on implementing these changes on July 1, rather than in August.In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Bernier confirmed that it would be a major undertaking for staff to prepare all the public information and job sheets for implementation on July 1, but it can be done.

 

Chairman Spychalski added that this is even more difficult not having the budget finalized.

 

†††††††††††††††† In response to Mr. Powers, Mr. Mose noted that it may be a good idea to implement the fare increase at the same time as the service changes.††

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Mose also pointed out that there are some issues to consider regarding the bargaining unit in making the changes early.

 

†††††††††††††††† In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Mose reviewed the plans being considered for the Universityís summer term and how each route change may affect the other routes.

†††††††††††††††† Chairman Spychalski stated that staff should proceed with the proposed service changes.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. McCarl suggested that a presentation of the proposed service cuts be made to each municipality prior to their meeting on the CATA Budget.He feels it may be a very good idea to let the officials know where the Authority is heading before they accept the budget.

 

†††††††††††††††† Chairman Spychalski thanked Mr. McCarl for the suggestion, noting that time is of the essence.In terms of procedures, the approval of the service changes, especially if the changes are to be implemented in July rather than August, needs to be brought before the Board for a vote.Mr. Mose noted that the Board will need to make a decision within the next 30 days, at least by the next Board meeting.

 

††††††††† E.††† Operations/Administration Area Expansion Update

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Mose introduced Mr. Kurt Kwiatek, Alexander Constructors' on-site Superintendent.Mr. Kwiatek will be working directly with Joe Gilbert and Bob Colton on the construction project.Mr. Gilbert noted that the construction has started with breaking ground for the new parking lot.Mr. Kwiatek noted that the building permit should be received in time to begin the foundation on schedule.

 

†††††††††††††††† In response to Mr. Mose, Mr. Kwiatek noted that there were several items, such as adding fire doors, which require changes to the original plans.Mr. Kwiatek also reported that the zoning permits have been taken care of and heís presently working with Ferguson Township on the building codes.

 

In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Kwiatek noted that one surprise may be with the location of the sewer lines.It seems that not everything is where itíssupposed to be according to the original building drawings.The remedy will be to move the line to where itís needed, even if itís not there now.

 

†††††††††††††††† Chairman Spychalski thanked Mr. Kwiatek for attending the meeting and updating the Board on the project.

 

 

IV.††† NEW BUSINESS

 

††††††††† A.††† Penn State Presentation:†† Phase I Transportation Study

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Mose introduced Gordon Turow, Director of Campus Planning and Design at Penn State; Doug Holmes, Assistant Director of Parking for Transportation Services; and Bruce Younkin, Manager of Fleet Operations.

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Turow presented a comprehensive overview ofthe Phase I Transportation Study at The Pennsylvania State University.The Study is an intramodal strategy that is designed to improve access and mobility on the campus and in the surrounding community.Emphasis was put on safety for pedestrians and a more transit friendly campus.

 

†††††††††††††††† Chairman Spychalski thanked Mr. Turow for the informative presentation and opened the floor for comments and questions.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Davidson asked about the net effect on parking spaces.Mr. Holmes reviewed the parking changes, noting that there will not be a reduction in parking spaces, but that the plan may actually create some additional spaces.With the loss of surface parking areas and the addition of decks, some parking assignments and placements will change.†††

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Sherman asked if the concept of park and ride would increase the number of cars coming into the campus.Mr. Holmes stated that he feels that it will not, it will simply change the destination points for the people already driving to campus.Mr. Turow noted that there has been great interest in alternatives to parking on the core campus, such as parking on the perimeters and using transit.

†††††††††††††††† In response to Mr. Mose, Mr. Turow noted that the interest in an intramodal strategy makes sense and he hopes that interest will translate into a reduction in demand for core campus parking decks.

 

†††††††††††††††† Chairman Spychalski noted that the study seems to focus on the use of public transit - both the LOOPs and LINK, as well as Centre Line routes.To encourage the use of transit, Chairman Spychalski asked if any thought has been given to providing a free transit pass for all staff and faculty.Chairman Spychalski pointed out that providing cheap parking permits on the periphery makes it seem less expensive to buy a parking permit and use the LOOPs or LINK, rather than to use the Centre Line buses to travel to/from campus.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Younkin pointed out that free transit does not answer all the issues, since many of the faculty and staff do not reside in an area served by transit.Even if the University provided free transit, many people would still choose to drive.Mr. Younkin also pointed out that since parking revenues help to fund the transit amenities, by reducing this source of revenue, the funding for transit would be reduced as well.There was further discussion on the concept of transit verses the private automobile, and effective ways to introduce transit to non-transit users and strategies for reducing traffic on campus.

 

†††††††††††††††† In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Turow reviewed the information provided bynational experts on how to make this kind of program work, and how transferring from one bus to another will be accepted by bus patrons.Mr. Younkin noted that transfer points have already been tested to some degree by CATA using dropoff points at the Pattee Library.There was further discussion on parking, the number of bus stops, increased focus on a pedestrian friendly campus, and the cost of parking permits and transit passes.Mr. Holmes noted that most of the small parking lots will eventually disappear within the core campus.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Robert Beck, CATA Bus Driver, stated that although the comment was made that buses are in the way of buses, thus reducing the efficiency of schedules, there is a definite problem of students and other traffic causing bus congestion.Mr. Turow reviewed how some controls on pedestrian migration can be implemented to increase pedestrian safety and reduce traffic congestion.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Tobin suggested a signaled intersection at Shortlidge and Curtin, noting that the pedestrians hold up the traffic at that particular intersection.

 

†††††††††††††††† Chairman Spychalski stated that the geometry of the bus stops and street intersections need to be considered as key elements in planning.There also needs to be a strong marketing element to educate the public on transit.The free transit pass could be a critical tool.Chairman Spychalski reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of selecting a 5 minute walk to a bus stop over a 10 minute walk to a private vehicle.Although the 5 minute walk may seem more desirable, there are other issues which make the selection for transit less desirable.

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Bernier suggested that the impact of the Curtin Transitway will not only be to increase pedestrian traffic on Curtin Road, but it will also cause a problem with vehicle traffic in the areas of the transfer stations outside the transitway.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Kipp commended Mr. Turow on an excellent presentation.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Turow provided the Board with his email address, get10@psu.edu, requesting that further comments, questions, and/or suggestions be sent directly to him.

 

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Turow reviewed the proposed timetable for construction of the new parking lots and decks, bus pull-offs and road closures, stating that some of these projects have already begun but others will not be implemented or completed until 2003.

 

†††††††††††††††† Chairman Spychalski reinforced his feeling that there will be a negative impact on transit by closing some roadways.

V.††††† OTHER BUSINESS

 

††††††††† A.††† General Manager's Report

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Mose noted that he had nothing new to report.

 

††††††††† B.††† Service Development Report

†††††††††††††††† Mr. Bernier had no further information to add to the written report included in the Board packets.

 

 

VI.††† ADJOURNMENT

 

There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski adjourned the meeting to Executive Session at 6:37 p.m. to discuss personnel issues.††† ††††††††††††††††††

 

 

VII.†† EXECUTIVE SESSION

 

††††††††† The Executive Session was adjourned at 7:15 p.m.