CENTRE AREA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

BOARD WORK SESSION

MINUTES

pdf version 

March 17, 2009

4:00 PM

CATA BOARD ROOM

2081 W. Whitehall Road, State College, PA 16801

 

 

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:        John Spychalski, Chairman

                                                            Joe Davidson, Vice-Chairman

                                                            Gary Powers

                                                            Kathryn Bittner

 

BOARD MEMBER ABSENT:             Richard Kipp

 

STAFF PRESENT:                              Hugh Mose, General Manager

                                                            Judith Minor, Director of Administration

                                                            Julie Hartley, Human Resource Manager

                                                            Eric Bernier, Service Development Manager

Jackie Sheader, Marketing Manager

Mark Kutzer, Maintenance Manager

                                                            Jennifer Floyd, Receptionist

 

 

 

CALL TO ORDER

Chairman Spychalski called the meeting to order at 4:22 PM.

 

PUBLIC COMMENTS

There were no public comments.

 

OPERATING REVENUES

Fares - Hugh Mose reconfirmed with the Board that fares for FY 2009/2010 will remain the same, as decided at the December Work Session. 

 

Apartment Contracts – Hugh Mose noted that Eric Bernier will continue to try to negotiate higher rates in the coming year.

 

Joe Davidson arrived at 4:27 p.m.

 

Penn State- Hugh Mose discussed Penn State’s decision to not increase the hourly rate or dollar amount of their contract with CATA.  Hugh mentioned the possibility of cutting 500 to 600 hours of GREEN LINK service to defray costs as a result.  Joe Davidson questioned if special events trips were underwritten by outside organizations.  Eric Bernier answered that they are underwritten by Penn State, but are dealt with separately. 

 

Exterior Bus Advertising – Hugh Mose noted that it was the Board’s consensus to continue the status quo concerning exterior bus advertising.  No further discussion was held on this topic. 

 

 

 

 

OPERATING SUBSIDIES

Local SharesHugh Mose reiterated that the Board had decided not to request an increase in local share funding in the coming year.  Hugh noted that this was again a status quo situation, and no further discussion was held concerning this topic. 

 

State Assistance - Hugh Mose gave an overview on how Act 44 has increased CATA’s state operating assistance.  Hugh also noted that due to the uncertainties of the underlying funding of Act 44, CATA’s approach on both the budget and service development needs to be conservative.

 

FTA Section 5307 Formula Assistance – Hugh Mose explained that, after decades of having to rely on the federal funding CATA expected to receive in the coming federal fiscal year, CATA can now operate next year on the funds already received in the current year. 

 

OTHER FUNDING SOURCES

FTA Section 5309 Discretionary Capital – Hugh Mose noted that CATA did not receive federal “earmark” funding for Phase II of APTS this year.  Hugh commented that this may be due to Rep. Peterson’s retirement.  Discretionary Capital funding is not included in the Preliminary Draft Budget. 

 

Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) – Hugh Mose explained that JARC funding became available to CATA within the last several years, but CATA has not yet received any of these funds. Hugh commented that PENNDOT advised CATA to reapply with a different approach in the coming year.

 

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – Hugh Mose noted that the recently enacted economic stimulus bill, of which CATA’s share is $1.67 million, will be used to rehabilitate ten 1998 New Flyer buses.  This project will be shown in the Capital section of the Budget document. 

 

Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative (PCTI) – Hugh Mose explained that Greg Kausch submitted applications for two projects that are currently under consideration for funding.  Because the competition is very intense, there is only a slight chance that our applications for either of these projects will be accepted.  Consequently none of this funding is included in the Preliminary Draft Budget. 

 

Congestion Management Air Quality (CMAQ) – Hugh Mose commented that CATA has been receiving a share of the CMAQ funds available to Centre County for the past several years, and the staff expects to continue to work with the CCMPO and PENNDOT to shift CMAQ funds between highway and transit projects to ensure their optimal use in our community.  Because it is not possible to know what funds might ultimately be available, no CMAQ dollars are included in the Budget at this time. 

 

SIGNIFICANT NEW PROJECTS

Transportation Coordination Study – Hugh Mose gave a brief description of this study and noted that the outcome of the study is expected to be a set of recommendations on how CATA and CCOT could be more effectively integrated to provide human service transportation, Shared Ride for seniors, and ADA complementary paratransit. 

 

Regional Commuter Bus Service – Hugh Mose explained that CATA and CRPA staff have been actively engaged in trying to lay the groundwork for regional commuter service from Penns Valley, the Moshannon Valley, Altoona, and possibly other areas.  Hugh noted that other agencies (particularly ATA) have been less than cooperative in this situation, and that PENNDOT has encouraged CATA to take the lead in requesting funds from JARC.  The Board agreed that CATA should continue to pursue this type of activity.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Evaluation – Hugh Mose commented on the possibility of having a Bus Rapid Transit evaluation performed by a consultant in order to determine if our community might be eligible for major capital grants that are being awarded to other communities of our size. 

 

Transit Signal Priority (TSP) – Hugh Mose mentioned a major traffic signal upgrade project that PENNDOT has begun along North Atherton Street, in the same area where CATA had explored the possibility of TSP six or seven years ago.  CATA staff is working with the project partners and their consultants to ensure that the equipment installed at the intersections will be compatible with CATA’s future deployment of TSP.  Joe Davidson asked how much it would cost to get CATA’s buses equipped with the appropriate technology to utilize the equipment, and Hugh answered approximately $150,000.  Eric Bernier noted that other technology involved with this project, such as video surveillance and message boards, should also become available for CATA’s use. 

 

Workforce Development – Hugh Mose noted that the professional development of CATA’s employees will become a major focus of the organization.  Hugh added that the long-term absence of two of CATA’s key executives has been a wake-up call that there is a significant knowledge gap between senior managers and their subordinates.  Hugh went on to note that the approaching retirement of CATA’s three top managers demands that succession planning be addressed with renewed urgency. 

 

Website Development – Hugh Mose mentioned that Eric Bernier has served as our webmaster since the mid-1990s but the sophistication of contemporary transit websites has increased to the point where we need to consider professional assistance.  Eric Bernier added that technological expectations are higher in this area, and more expansion and integration of technological services needs to be done.  Eric noted that the plan is to create a new “shell” within which different departments can contribute and maintain elements of their own, but with the same look and structure of the entire site. 

 

Automated Trip Planner – Hugh Mose explained that, like an increasing number of other transit systems, CATA is ready to offer an on-line trip planner that enables potential riders to go online, enter their origin and destination, and receive a listing of the routes that would need to be taken to make the trip, and the times at which the next several buses are schedule to depart.  Eric Bernier explained in more detail what this service would entail, and mentioned that CATA plans to work with Google to develop the planner, as it has become the industry standard. 

 

Strategic Plan Update – Hugh Mose explained that the CATA staff believes it is again time to update CATA’s overall strategic plan. PENNDOT Supplemental Planning Funds, which had been used for this work in the past, were not available this year, but CATA staff intends to work with the CRPA to identify other sources of funding. 

 

Park and Ride Lots – Hugh Mose noted that, although CATA is only peripherally involved, we continue to support Greg Kausch, CRPA Transportation Planner, as he works to develop a formal park-and-ride lot at Old Fort in Potter Township.  Hugh added that the Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO) is still in the running for some special PENNDOT funding to improve the informal park-and-ride lot across from the Moshannon Valley YMCA in Rush Township. 

 

Board members and staff took a meal break from 5:38 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

 

CAPITAL BUDGET
Used Buses from Orlando – Mark Kutzer noted that the ten buses that arrived from LYNX in Orlando had

suffered a lapse in maintenance.  Mark added that CATA is still waiting on the parts invoices, and that extra parts were given by LYNX.  Mark said there had been no big surprises so far concerning the buses and their parts, but added that the maintenance staff had not yet done much with them. 

 

Replacement Buses – Mark Kutzer explained that he is working on the new Invitation for Bids for up to ten 40-foot buses.  Hugh Mose noted that the Clean Fuels grant can only be used for CNG-electric hybrid buses, which have not yet been developed.  Hugh noted that the current question is whether to purchase all ten buses now or set aside monies for two hybrids in the future.  Mark Kutzer added that the initial investment and learning curve for Mechanics are two possible drawbacks.

 

Bus Refurbishment – Hugh Mose explained that, due to the recent Economic Stimulus funding, all of the 1998 New Flyer sub-fleet will be rebuilt.  Hugh added that CATA will be out to bid for this work as soon as necessary grant approvals are acquired. 

 

Vanpool Vans – Hugh Mose gave an update on the CENTRE COMMUTE program, which is expanding and in need of additional vans.  Hugh noted that CATA intends to apply for JARC funding for at least six additional vans to further expand the fleet. 

 

Service Vehicles – Hugh Mose noted that CATA’s service vehicles are no longer sufficient for our needs and are in need of replacement.  Hugh added that, over the coming year, CATA plans to acquire up to three additional sedans and replace the twenty-five year old dump truck. 

 

FACILITIES

Maintenance Facility Expansion – Hugh Mose gave an update on the maintenance facility expansion project, noting that the next step in the process will be a Request for Proposals for Architectural and Engineering services.

 

Shelters and Other Stop Improvements – Eric Bernier noted that there will be only small, general improvements slated for this year.  Joe Davidson questioned if the artwork clock had been mentioned before, and Hugh Mose answered that it had, as part of the Beaver Avenue streetscape project. 

 

Cato Park Facilities Upgrades – Hugh Mose made note of the upgrades needed to CATA’s Cato Park facility, including modifications that will enable the new gas dryer to be used for CATA’s backup CNG compressor, followed by a brief discussion explaining the mechanics of the compressors and dryer.

 

EQUIPMENT

Advanced Public Transportation Systems – Phase II - Hugh Mose noted that, despite not receiving a Congressional earmark, CATA was able to program monies for APTS Phase II.  Hugh explained that Phase II includes automatic stop enunciators and on-board video cameras, which are important for ADA compliance and other safety matters.  Joe Davidson questioned whether CATA ever got final acceptance on Phase I of APTS.  Hugh answered that CATA had gone through System Acceptance Testing and it is being used to the best of our ability.  Joe Davidson then asked if CATA has paid Avail for Phase I.  Judi Minor responded no. Eric Bernier followed up with a discussion of system acceptance versus final acceptance and related terminology. 

 

CNG Tanks – Hugh Mose mentioned that the CNG fuel tanks on certain buses will need to be replaced in 2010, when they reach the end of their certified life. 

 

Fuel Systems – Hugh Mose explained that the fuel delivery systems on CATA’s twenty-six “first generation” CNG buses have become obsolete and need to be replaced as they fail.  Hugh noted that the cost is $2,000 per Orion bus and $4,500 per New Flyer bus.  Mark Kutzer went on to explain the reasons for the large cost difference between the two types of buses.

 

Office, Shop and Maintenance Equipment – No further discussion was held concerning this matter.

 

LINE ITEM BUDGET

Judi Minor provided a memo to the Board including line items with significant changes from the current budget.  Judi went through the memo and gave a brief explanation of each item.  Judi noted that the budget will be revised based on the expansion of service and the addition of staff positions.  Judi mentioned that the maintenance expenses are larger than usual, and Mark Kutzer commented on the reasons for the increase.  Judi also mentioned that the electric bill has greatly increased.  Formal action to adopt the preliminary draft budget will be asked for at the next regular Board meeting.

 

SERVICE CHANGE CONCEPTS FOR FY 2009/2010

Eric Bernier presented the Board with new service change concepts for Fiscal Year 2009/2010 along with a breakdown of how the service will be implemented.  Formal action for the service concepts will be asked for at the regular Board meeting in May.

 

STAFFING

Custodian/Facilities Maintenance Person – Hugh Mose noted that, due to Board concerns, CATA has decided not to recommend the inclusion of a Custodian in the coming year’s budget. 

 

Lead Mechanic/Mechanic I – Hugh Mose mentioned that Mark Kutzer and Julie Hartley have looked at both recent vocational school graduates and current employees to fill the position of Lead Mechanic, but have not yet been successful in finding an appropriate candidate to fill the position. 

 

Assistant General Manager – Hugh Mose explained that the Assistant General Manager position was still vacant, and reiterated the importance of placing someone in that position, chiefly due to succession planning and other staffing matters. 

 

EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION 

Compensation Plan Update – Julie Hartley gave a brief update on the ongoing compensation plan review.

 

ADJOURNMENT

With no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski adjourned the meeting at 7:35 PM.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

The Board reconvened for an Executive Session to discuss personnel matters, including salary adjustments.