CENTRE AREA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY
REGULAR BOARD MEETING
And PUBLIC HEARING
February 23, 2009
STATE COLLEGE BOROUGH BUILDING
Borough Council Chambers, 243 S. Allen Street
BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: John Spychalski, Chairman
Joseph L. Davidson, Vice Chairman
Richard Kipp, Treasurer
STAFF PRESENT: Hugh Mose, General Manager
Judi Minor, Director of Administration
Eric Bernier, Service Development Manager
Julie Hartley, Human Resource Manager
Mark Kutzer, Maintenance Manager
Jacqueline Sheader, Marketing Manager
Ryan Harshbarger, Transportation Analyst
Jennifer Floyd, Receptionist
OTHERS PRESENT: Theresa Lafer, State College Borough Liaison
I. CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Spychalski called the meeting to order at 4:02 p.m.
II. PUBLIC HEARING TO RECEIVE SUGGESTIONS FOR BUS SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS
Prior to receiving suggestions from the public, Chairman Spychalski called on Eric Bernier to give a presentation regarding the proposed service enhancements for the upcoming Fiscal Year. Eric read a brief introduction to the public hearing and highlighted preliminary concepts for FY 2009-2010.
Chairman Spychalski then opened the floor for public suggestions and comments regarding bus service improvements. Mr. Bill Bemis, from the College Heights area, was the first member of the public to comment. Mr. Bemis said he has been using the CATA bus system for quite some time, and finds it quite convenient. He said there are two kinds of passengers that use CATA: one rides the bus from Point A to Point B, and one uses it as a substitute for a car. He said the latter needs to understand the whole system, not just one route. He said that the CATA bus schedule can be intimidating to these passengers. Mr. Bemis went on to say that he is the only one out of 140 people in his choral society who uses CATA to get to Monday night rehearsals. He suggested coordinating times between organizational meeting times and bus schedules. Mr. Bemis mentioned that he wonders whether ridership and gas prices in the area are related, and then reiterated that he likes the CATA bus system very much.
Ms. Michelle Bernetskie, who lives on Waupelani Dr., said that she loves CATA. She replied to Mr. Bemis’ comment regarding ridership versus gas prices, and said that it is not very cost effective for her to ride the bus to work. Ms. Bernetski suggested that One Passes should be offered at a reduced rate for residents and that this would result in increased ridership.
Eric Bernier acknowledged the five Public Hearing comments received prior to February 23, 2009 by reading over the summary of each comment.
Ms. Edie Lesk said she does without a car due to CATA, and is very happy with the service. As for things that could be improved upon, she said that sometimes she notices bus drivers pulling out of a stop before people are seated. Ms. Lesk also mentioned that, on snowy days, snow is piled high in front of her P Route bus stop. She went on to note that the seats in the front of CATA buses say “Seats Reserved for Seniors” and may be misinterpreted as meaning seniors in college, not senior citizens, and this should be taken into consideration when reprinting the signs.
Mr. Bill Bemis spoke before the Board again, noted that passengers need to allow more time when using the bus system. He went on to mention humorous schemes he has used as a senior to get a seat up in front of the bus.
With no further citizens coming forward, Chairman Spychalski closed the hearing, thanking everyone for his or her comments.
III. PUBLIC COMMENT
Chairman Spychalski invited public comments on any other matters beyond service improvements.
Thelma Walters, housing case manager for Centre County, stated that she works with low-income families to help them find affordable housing. Ms. Walters noted that housing and transportation are significantly linked, and she often sees people who must either pay over 50% of their income to live in the Centre Region, or live in an area where the bus service is so insufficient that it may jeopardize their employment. She went on to say that the majority of people she works with have some sort of transportation issues. Ms. Walters said there is a need for a significant increase in the number of bus runs in the Bellefonte direction, including during evening and night hours, so that people working in the restaurant industry will be able to go to and from work. She asked if CATA performs surveys to determine in what area the needs are, and if so, if she could help distribute questionnaires to people she works with.
Hugh Mose responded to Ms. Walters’ question, and said that CATA does surveys, though mostly to current customers. Mr. Mose said that every five or six years, CATA does an overall Strategic Plan update, and tries to identify the greater community’s needs. He said that CATA hopes to do another Strategic Plan next fiscal year, and he will remember Ms. Walters’ offer to help.
Arthur Lesk asked if the P Route run to the airport has been found to be successful, and whether it is to be continued. Hugh Mose responded, noting that it is a more lightly used link in our system. He said part of the reason for extending service to that area was in order to be able to provide paratransit service, which is being utilized. Chairman Spychalski added that CATA is looking at extending the amount of fixed route service for that area, but it is likely to be a long-term project. With no further citizens coming forward, Chairman Spychalski moved on to Old Business.
IV. OLD BUSINESS
Prior to the motion to approve the January 19, 2009 minutes, Eric Bernier introduced Mr. Ryan Harshbarger to the Board. Mr. Harshbarger joined CATA as the Transportation Analyst in December, 2008. Hugh Mose went on to introduce Mr. Mike Noel, who is a Transit Training Consultant. Mr. Noel will be conducting a training session for Board members.
A. Approval of Minutes for January 19, 2009 Board Meeting
Chairman Spychalski entertained a motion to approve the January 19, 2009 Regular Board Meeting minutes. Richard Kipp moved to approve the minutes as distributed and Gary Powers seconded. With no discussion, the motion carried unanimously.
B. January 2009 Finance Report
Chairman Spychalski entertained a motion to receive the January Finance Report as distributed. Joe Davidson moved, and Kathryn Bittner seconded the motion. Joe Davidson questioned what price CATA is paying for gas lately. Judi answered that our gas has been purchased through next December, and it was roughly 5.70 per MCF. Chairman Spychalski explained that the gas being referred to is natural gas. Hugh Mose noted that there was an miscellaneous entry on the Finance Reports of $53,500 that included the proceeds from the sale of two surplus compressors. Judi Minor noted that the electric bill has been very high. Joe Davidson questioned if the new compressors are electric powered. Hugh responded that they are. Chairman Spychalski noted that even if the operating costs of using electricity are higher the capital costs are still less, and Hugh agreed that they are, as well as the maintenance costs.
Hugh Mose gave an update on ridership, and noted that CENTRE LINE was up 11%, and the LOOP/LINK was up 14%. He commented on neighborhood route ridership being up as well, including the B Route which was up 41 ˝% and the S Route which was up almost 48%. Hugh went on to note that there has been an increase in sales of One Passes, tokens, and Ride for Five. He said paratransit is declining slightly, and that the vanpool service is in a holding pattern while we await bids for new vans. With no further discussion, the motion carried unanimously.
C. Policy Review – Policy Manual
Julie Hartley noted a title change in the Equal Employment Practices Policy section of the revised Policy Manual. Chairman Spychalski noted that the presented policy additions are for review and will be adopted at the next scheduled Board meeting.
D. FY 2009/2010 Budget Work Session
After noting that the agenda item was added after it was printed. Chairman Spychalski asked staff to provide a recommendation as to when to hold the Budget Work Session. After brief discussion, it was decided that the date will be March 17th at 4:00 p.m.
Gary Powers moved for the Board to accept March 17th at 4:00 p.m. as the date for the Budget Work Session, with the meeting being held in the CATA Boardroom. Kathryn Bittner seconded the motion. With no further discussion, the motion carried unanimously.
A. Resolution of Appreciation – Kimberly Stogdill
Chairman Spychalski moved to approve a Resolution of Appreciation for Ms. Kimberly Stogdill, a Driver who may have saved the life of a Penn State student when she’d taken action to provide medical aid upon finding him face down in the snow and not breathing. Joe Davidson seconded the motion. Chairman Spychalski went on to read the Resolution of Appreciation. The Resolution was adopted unanimously, and Chairman Spychalski presented the Resolution to Ms. Stogdill. Jackie Sheader noted that CATA had also nominated Ms. Stogdill for the EMS Lifelink Community Citizenship Award, and that Ms. Stogdill was accepted as a receipient of the award.
B. Document Retention Schedule
Judi Minor commented on the document retention schedule required by the Open Records Policy, noting several points of interest. Ms. Minor mentioned the need for the staff to revise retention schedule elements without bringing each change to the attention of the Board every time. Chairman Spychalski entertained a motion to approve the retention schedule as proposed. Joe Davidson moved, and Gary Powers seconded the motion. Kathryn Bittner recommended that the motion be amended to include the ability of the staff to make additions or corrections to schedule documents as needed without coming to the Board. Chairman Spychalski noted that the amendment is an editorial change and does not need to be voted on, and the Board agreed.
Gary Powers and Joe Davidson went on to ask Judi Minor several questions regarding the Document Retention Schedule, and Ms. Minor explained the schedule in further detail. With no further discussion, the motion passed unanimously.
C. Regional Commuter Bus Service
Hugh Mose reported that the staff has not had much success in advancing regional commuter bus service along certain corridors. Hugh mentioned that PENNDOT is not supportive of any new service and went on to ask the Board’s advice on this matter. Chairman Spychalski recommended that the Board give some thought to this matter and discuss it further at the upcoming Budget Work Session.
A. General Manager’s Report
Hugh Mose noted that CATA expects to receive about $1.6 million from the new Federal Economic Stimulus bill. Hugh said that the funds are planned to be used for refurbishment of the 1998 New Flyers. Hugh went on to note several points of interest regarding funding and fleet restoration. He pointed out that bus # 85, which had been used in the hydrogen project, has been placed back into service. Joe Davidson asked how things ended up financially with bus # 85, and Mark Kutzer answered that Penn State paid everything that was promised.
B. Service Development Report
Eric Bernier provided a written report in the Board packets. Eric noted two points of interest, specifically service changes and the Collegian article written about CATA’s new electronic signage and “real time” website.
Chairman Spychalski called for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Gary Powers moved and Richard Kipp seconded. The motion carried unanimously, and the meeting was adjourned at 5:13 PM. After adjournment, the Board reconvened in Executive Session.