CENTRE AREA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY
REGULAR BOARD MEETING
September 22, 2003
STATE COLLEGE BOROUGH BUILDING
Conference Room 241, 243 S. Allen Street
BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:
John Spychalski, Chairman
Don Sherman, Vice-Chairman
Richard Kipp, Treasurer
Hugh Mose, General Manager
Joseph Gilbert, Director of Transportation
Judith Minor, Director of Administration
Jacqueline Sheader, Marketing Manager
Eric Bernier, Service Development Manager
Terri Quici, Executive Assistant
Richard McCarl, State College Borough Liaison
I. CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Spychalski called the meeting to order at 4:05 PM.
Chairman Spychalski asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of Bob Link, long-time Board member and former Board Chairman, who passed away recently.
Chairman Spychalski asked Hugh Mose to introduce a new CATA team member, Terri Quici. Terri began with CATA on September 2, 2003 as Executive Assistant and was just married a week ago. Mr. Mose and Chairman Spychalski welcomed Terri and offered best wishes on her recent marriage.
II. PUBLIC COMMENT
Chairman Spychalski asked for any public comments.
Richard McCarl asked if there would be a report on the Schlow Library Transit Center. Hugh indicated there would be one and Chairman Spychalski said it would also be discussed in Executive Session.
III. OLD BUSINESS
A. Approval of Minutes of August 25, 2003 Board Meeting
Richard Kipp moved to approve the minutes of the August 25, 2003 Board Meeting, as distributed; Gary Powers seconded the motion. There being no revisions, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and they were approved unanimously.
B. June, July and August 2003 Finance Reports
Don Sherman moved to receive all three reports. Joe Davidson seconded the motion.
Judi Minor indicated that the June report is now final and matches the audit, and that the year-end expenditures have come in at 100.06% of the budget. There is some additional carry over this year due to revenues exceeding what was budgeted. Gary Powers asked if CATA spent $70,000 less than planned. Judi Minor agreed and explained that CATA both under spent budgeted expenditures and received more funding than actually expected. There is a $480,000 carryover, but about one-half of that is expected to be spent in the current budget year. Mr. Kipp asked if Penn Stateís increased service added to this carryover. Judi indicated that CATA has an hourly agreement with Penn State, and all direct costs are covered. Joe Davidson asked if this is reflected in June. Judi indicated that costs are recognized in the proper month when the service is actually run. Chairman Spychalski asked if the auditors are moving slower than in the past because the reports seem later than normal. Judi felt that because the company has taken on new customers, the audit is taking longer to complete, but there is a due date and a provision for extension. The single audit report and financials are done. The auditors had to re-do the State report, but it was completed last week.
Chairman Spychalski asked Judi about natural gas prices. Judi indicated that we are locked into a below-budget cost through December. Chairman Spychalski said he just wanted to make sure we donít come in with a deficit at the end of the fiscal year. Joe Davidson asked if the gas purchased is just for buses or if it can be used for the building. Judi indicated that it didnít matter which we used it for, and it is used for both. All agreed that the media and legislators seem to be scaring the public about the cost of natural gas.
Hugh noted that on most neighborhood routes, ridership has had substantial increases. However, the student corridor routes have fallen, and Hugh suspects it is due to more students taking advantage of the reduced cost of parking at the stadium and riding the LOOP and LINK services.
With no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote to accept the Finance Reports and the motion was carried unanimously.
IV. NEW BUSINESS
A. Federal Funding of Capital Projects
Hugh provided an update on events that have transpired since the last meeting. A press release was issued by Congressman Petersonís office which announced that he was successful with inserting two earmarks for CATA, $2 million for a Schlow Library Transit Center and $1.6 million for an Advanced Public Transportation Systems initiative, in the House Transportation Appropriations Bill. Hugh stated that he believes the earmarks will be protected when the bill goes to the Senate. Congressman Peterson is on the Appropriations Committee and is in a good position to ensure items he supports survive the Conference Committee.
Hugh indicated he had attended several meetings with Library staff and their architects to discuss the pros and cons of this funding. It amounts to an opportunity to use federal transit assistance to not only provide a better facility for CATA, to include a pull-off and ground floor space for pass sales, restrooms, and indoor waiting, but also to help underwrite a portion of the cost of the Library itself. Hugh further noted that the acquisition and demolition of the small building on the east side of the Library would provide more outdoor waiting area and a better space for the bus pull-offs. The Library needed to secure a tenant for a community service; that space will be occupied by CATA. The project is envisioned to be similar to the Trade and Transit Center in Williamsport, where federal transit dollars helped support the cost for public space. This makes this project complex and will require a fair amount of work for both the Library as well as CATA staff. There is a need for CATA and the Library to work things out quickly.
Don Sherman asked if the entire facility would be owned by the Library or are we paying for the space we are occupying. Hugh replied that it still has to be worked out. We need to satisfy the federal government as to how CATA can assure the continuation of transit use of a property we donít own. A licensing agreement similar to one with PSU for the College & Allen Mobility Center will be considered. Chairman Spychalski asked if the investment in the facility would be considered an asset and show depreciation. Judi indicated yes it would be an asset. It was further noted that if federally funded improvements are made by CATA on land that is owned by someone else, and CATA is no longer there, then the owner must buy out the space, less depreciation. Chairman Spychalski also noted that we are moving at lightning speed on something that might not even happen, reminding the Board that the Appropriations Bill isnít even signed yet.
Richard Kipp asked about the cost of utilities CATA would use as part of the Library. It was indicated that such costs will be figured out and placed in the agreement at the front end.
Richard McCarl stated that he knew about this possibility a year ago, but because the Library is a sensitive issue in our community he has not been discussing it openly. He went on to say that there will be a great need for public relations and information as to how CATA fits in with the Library. People will want to know whatís going on. Hugh said he was aware of discussions about how we put the pieces together to make it work for the best of everyone, and there is a lot of work ahead in answering these questions. Chairman Spychalski noted that a number of things need to be worked out before people get too carried away with details.
Hugh further noted that the second earmark, $1.6 million for emerging technology, was requested by CATA totally independent of the Library project. Automatic vehicle locators, bus stop enunciators, cameras on buses, etc. would be possible with this funding.
Chairman Spychalski stated that this funding is directed to improving the quality of the service for both the public and our employees.
Joe Davidson stated that, as a Board, we need to make sure that CATA gets the credit for at least spearheading the initial actions to secure these grants.
B. Service Standards Performance Review
Richard Kipp moved to accept the Service Standards Report for FY 2002-03. Gary Powers seconded the motion. Eric Bernier provided a brief explanation and indicated that we are required to adopt service standards. The categories are pre-set by PENNDOT although we establish our own goals. Eric noted that we met or exceeded all except two goals. The On-Time Peak Hour Performance was not even close to our goal. In defense of Operations, Eric noted that the data for On-Time Performance was skimpy because we didnít have enough manpower on the streets to gather the information. Chairman Spychalski stated that he felt if we had the new technology we just discussed, it would provide a great database. Don Sherman, looking at the staffing ratios in the report, asked if that has anything to do with the recent Management Performance Review that recommended a few more administrative staff. Eric, in closing, stated that 53% of our operating expenses were recovered from operating revenues. Richard Kipp questioned if that was the highest itís ever been. Eric said that since he has been recording, the highest was 56%, but then we added some new services that brought the numbers back down.
Chairman Spychalski called for a vote, and the motion was passed unanimously.
V. OTHER BUSINESS
A. General Managerís Report
Hugh noted a very successful football shuttle on Saturday, September 20th. He added that Jackie, Eric, Joe and others worked very hard to implement the changes in routing, bus stops and patron parking out at Hills Plaza, and getting the information out to the public. Hugh said that lots of people are riding and we certainly addressed Hillsí managementís concerns.
Hugh stated that he has previously discussed the implications of the TEA-21 Reauthorization. The latest thinking is that it wonít get enacted by the end of the federal fiscal year, and we are looking at a five month extension. That is not necessarily a problem, but if there is not a bill by next spring, it would complicate our FY 2004-05 budget process. As long as the existing program is carried forward into the next fiscal year, weíll be okay in the short-term.
Hugh thanked Joe, Eric, and Tim for their efforts fine-tuning our tripper service, which has allowed us to bring our service hours down to the level we budgeted. Joe Davidson asked if the riders are adjusting to that. Joe Gilbert said that we did a better job this year at planning, so the service seems to be right where it needs to be, and it is working quite well.
Hugh also said he has a continuing concern that our ridership is down this year compared to the same time last year. It may be a result of the University lowering the price to park on campus, which encourages people to drive. If this continues, we will need to look closer at how our revenues are deviating from budget.
Hugh reported that a polling firm called Collegia has released a list of the twenty best college towns in the nation. State College was identified as the best college town for public transportation and pedestrian access.
Hugh provided a transit procurement information booklet to Board members. This is for information purposes only.
Hugh stated he would be out of town next week at an American Public Transportation Association (APTA) meeting and taking some vacation. He is likely to be elected the Chair of APTAís Small Operations Steering Committee.
B. Service Development Report
Eric reviewed the Football Shuttle and significant website changes. Chairman Spychalski again commended the graphics in the Ride Guide. Hugh indicated that it was a joint effort between Jackie and Eric.
Eric stated that he and Tim are going to Harrisburg to give a presentation in conjunction with Avail Technologies for a PENNDOT Research & Demonstration grant for Intellifare software enhancements, which would also allow us to export ridership information to the website.
Eric noted that he and Judi spent the past two weeks processing about 2500 apartment passes onsite. Eric feels that the ďface timeĒ is valuable and noted compliments on our recent service changes.
Joe Davidson moved to adjourn the meeting at 5: 12 PM. Don Sherman seconded. The motion was passed unanimously by the Board.
VII. EXECUTIVE SESSION
The Board reconvened in Executive Session immediately following the Board meeting to discuss the real estate acquisition associated with the Schlow Library Transit Center project.