CENTRE AREA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY
 REGULAR BOARD MEETING MINUTES

March 24, 2003
 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
Jacqueline Sheader, Marketing Coordinator
Diane Heichel, Executive Assistant
Richard McCarl, Borough Liaison

 

I. CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Spychalski called the meeting to order at 4:14 p.m. Chairman Spychalski announced that the Board of Directors had held an Executive Session on Monday, March 17, to discuss personnel matters.

II. PUBLIC COMMENT
Chairman Spychalski called for comments or input from the general public.

Chairman Spychalski recognized Mr. Tom Zilla , Centre Regional Planning Agency. Mr. Zilla reported that he and Brian St. John will be making a presentation to the COG General Forum regarding the Transit Signal Priority (TSP) system. Mr. Zilla added that the presentation will also be made to the three municipalities, Patton, Ferguson and the State College Borough, in April. He will then return to the CATA Board in April with collected comments and a report on their progress. In May or June, they will again return to the CATA Board, hopefully for their approval to proceed with the program.

In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Zilla stated that he will be seeking authorization from only the three municipalities which would be affected by the program.

In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Zilla stated that he has no time frame for installation following final approval from the Board and the municipalities. It has a lot to do with the funding process. It may take as long as 12 - 18 months or longer to complete the installation.

In response to Chairman Spychalski, Mr. Zilla noted that the presentation has been streamlined to reduce the statistical information and emphasize the program's benefits. Mr. Zilla also stressed that there is little concern regarding an increase of vehicle collisions and delays of side streets. Other municipalities using the TSP system have not reported having any such problems.

III. OLD BUSINESS

    A. Approval of Minutes of February 24, 2003 Board Meeting
Mr. Kipp moved that the Board approve the minutes of the February 24, 2003 Board meeting. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. There being no changes or corrections, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

    B. Receipt of the February 2003 Finance Reports
Mr. Sherman moved that the Board receive the February 2003 Finance Reports. Mr. Kipp seconded the motion.

Ms. Minor reported that there was nothing out of the ordinary on the February report. No federal operating funds have been used as yet. Farebox revenue has been below her expectations, but she expects that to increase.

In response to Chairman Spychalski, Mr. Mose reported that SEPTA was unable to accept receipt of their new tow truck, but as soon as the problems are resolved and they do receive their new truck, CATA will be able to pick up the used tow truck.

In response to Mr. Davidson, Ms. Minor stated that she really didn't feel the bad weather had any negative impact on the farebox revenue, other than the few hours that the buses were shut down. The bad weather normally increases ridership because people choose to ride the bus rather than take their own vehicles out on bad roads. Mr. Mose added that there were only 20 business days in February this year, which would also contribute to the lower monthly figures.

Mr. Mose pointed out that during the past year, only one family has taken advantage of the Family Pass Program and he feels this might be the time to discontinue the family passes altogether. Chairman Spychalski thought that it may be worth the effort to market this program more heavily. He'd like to discuss this further in a Board work session before simply canceling the program altogether.

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

    C. FY 2003/04 DRAFT Budget
Mr. Mose referred to the memo and 5-page Budget included in the Board packet.

Mr. Mose reviewed the FY 2003/04 DRAFT Budget memo, pointing out the changes made since the preliminary DRAFT Budget was reviewed and discussed by the Board at the Work Session. The net result of these changes is to increase the projected carryover at the end of the FY 2003/04 budget year to approximately $200,000.

Mr. Mose reviewed the anticipated receipts and expenditures, as well as the service changes and anticipated results of those changes.

In response to Mr. Sherman, Ms. Minor reviewed the process she uses to estimate the final budget for the 2002/03 Fiscal Year. Mr. Gilbert noted that the biggest impact on overtime is unexpected medical leave.

In response to Mr. Davidson, Ms. Minor reviewed the difference in the Professional Services noting that during this past year there were extra expenditures for the Management Performance Review and the Transit Signal Priority study. She also noted that there should be less in legal fees.

In response to Mr. Kipp, Ms. Minor reviewed the different insurance costs for the building, vehicles, etc. She expects another 10% increase in insurance this next year.

Mr. Sherman moved that the Board adopt the FY 2003/04 DRAFT Budget and authorize its completion and distribution by staff. Mr. Kipp 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 reported that for the past month or more the service planning team has been working on service changes for the fall. Referring to the memo included in the Board packet, Mr. Mose reviewed the suggested service changes proposed to date.

In response to Mr. Powers, Mr. Mose noted that Shortlidge is still closed and he feels the University would like to keep it closed permanently, but that has not been included in their plans at this time. Mr. Mose added that there have not been great delays on routes using the detour on Bigler and Pollock, unless there is an accident.

IV. NEW BUSINESS

    A. Hydrogen Fueling Station Project
Mr. Mose, referring to his memo included in the Board packets, stated that the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute (PTI) at Penn State, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection have secured funding to construct a hydrogen fueling station on the Penn State campus. The facility will provide hydrogen for academic research and also for vehicular fuel. CATA has been approached about becoming a partner in the project by allowing three CATA buses to be converted to burn a blend of hydrogen and natural gas, and then operating in this mode for research purposes.

Mr. Mose reviewed the process and how the two components, natural gas and hydrogen, can be used together as a fuel. He added that he feels some of the expectations of the program are to gauge on-street performance using different blends.

Mr. Mose also outlined what he believes to be the initial costs associated with the conversion, the maintenance, and the retrofit back to the original engines following the study. It has been stressed that CATA would be unable to participate if CATA would incur any additional operating costs over and above the current operating expenses.

There was further discussion on the program, the possible study of fuel cells for buses, and what is already being used in other areas. In response to Mr. McCarl, Mr. Mose pointed out that the current Detroit Diesel engines would be replaced with either a Cummins or John Deere, only because PTI's consultant feels that Detroit Diesel will be discontinuing their CNG powered engines.

Mr. Davidson suggested that the Authority purchase used CNG powered buses to use for this program, rather than using CATA's current buses. Mr. Mose noted that the buses CATA was considering purchasing in Texas were more expensive than CATA could pay for them, plus he didn't feel those buses would be a good fit for this program. Although there may be used buses for sale across the country, it doesn't mean that they would work with this program.

Mr. McCarl suggested that PTI use buses on the test track to test this program rather than buses on the street in service. Mr. Mose noted that the entities involved, including the Department of Energy, would like to evaluate the use in normal service.

In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Mose noted that CATA's Maintenance staff would maintain the engines. However, PTI will want to monitor the needs and costs for such maintenance for research purposes. The work to change the engines would also be done by CATA Maintenance staff under the guidance of PTI's consultant.

Chairman Spychalski explained that the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute is populated heavily by faculty and grad students from the College of Engineering. Consequently this is an engineering research project first and foremost, and it could involve considerable engineering expertise from more than one discipline within the College of Engineering. Mechanical Engineering certainly comes to mind. However, Chairman Spychalski pointed out that as this is dealing with fuel, someone from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences might be involved also.

Mr. Kipp moved that the Board authorize the General Manager to communicate to the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute CATA's willingness to participate in the Hydrogen Fueling Station project, subject to the requirement that CATA be made whole for all capital, operating, training, outreach, reporting and final close-out costs associated with the project. Mr. Powers seconded the motion.

In response to Mr. McCarl, Mr. Mose noted that the fewer buses needed on the street since CATA has reduced service makes having three buses out of service for the retrofitting less of a concern.

In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Gilbert stated that the Maintenance staff is concerned that Detroit Diesel will be discontinuing their CNG engines. They have been looking at the Cummins and the John Deere for future needs. However, at this time, he would suggest taking the three oldest engines out to accommodate the Hydrogen project.

Mr. Mose noted that they are just now applying for the grant funding and there is no timeline for implementing this project.

In response to Mr. Kipp, Mr. Gilbert stated that the engines will all have the valve problem fixed before this program ever begins. However, there is no guarantee that the new engines won't burn the valves, just like the Detroit Diesels have.

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

V. OTHER BUSINESS

    A. General Manager's Report
Mr. Mose reported that he was notified today that there has finally been an insurance settlement with an employee that was injured on the job almost 5 years ago.

Mr. Davidson suggested that Congressman Peterson be made aware of the Authority's willingness to participate in the Hydrogen Fuel project.

VI. ADJOURNMENT

There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski adjourned the meeting at 5:40 p.m.