CENTRE AREA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

 

BOARD WORK SESSION

MINUTES

Print Version

July 9, 2013

5:00 p.m.

2081 W. Whitehall Road

State College, PA 16801

 

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:     John Spychalski, Chairman

                                                            Joe Davidson, Vice-Chairman

                                                            Richard Kipp, Treasurer

                                                            Tom Kurtz

                                                            Tammy Gentzel

                                                           

STAFF PRESENT:                             Hugh Mose, General Manager

                                                            Louwana Oliva, Assistant General Manager

                                                            Kimberly Fragola, Director of Administration

                                                            Greg Kausch, Transportation Planner

                                                            Marsha Kyper, Assistant to the General Manager

 

OTHERS PRESENT:                         Tom Zilla, Principal Transportation Planner, CRPA

 

       I.            CALL TO ORDER

Chairman Spychalski called the meeting to order at 5:01 p.m.

 

    II.            PUBLIC COMMENT

There was no public comment.

 

 III.            INTRODUCTION

A.     Plan Need and Purpose

Greg Kausch cited the change in services offered, local development and funding as some of the reasons for updating the 1998 Centre Area Public Transportation Plan and 2004 Strategic Plan.

 

B.     Work Session Objectives

Greg Kausch reported that the objective of the Work Session would be to cover with the Board the proposed scope of work and schedule for the Strategic Plan Update, and to obtain the Board’s input and guidance on specific policy questions related to the project.  

 

C.     Project Funding

Greg Kausch reported that PennDOT has committed $132,275 in Technical Assistance grant funds for CATA’s Strategic Plan Update; $127,872 from PennDOT and $4,403 local match payable by CATA.  Greg further reported that project management and staffing would be a partnership between CATA and the Centre County Metropolitan  Planning Organization (CCMPO), and would serve as an example to other authorities throughout the state.

 

 

 

 

 

 IV.            Task 0 – Basic / Administrative

A.     Finalize Project Scope of Work and Schedule

Greg Kausch reported that the Board had previously agreed at the June 24 meeting to further discuss the “Key Considerations” which had been used to develop the scope of work and to extendthe project over 18 months, once PennDOT Technical Assistance grant money had been committed to the project.

 

B.     Execute Grant Agreement

Greg Kausch reported that a grant agreement with PennDOT would be executed.

 

C.     Assemble Project Management Team (Steering Committee)

Greg Kausch presented Policy Question # 1 – What people / organizations should be represented on the project management team?  The staff recommendation was to include the CATA Board of Directors, senior staff, and representatives from the CCMPO, Penn State and PennDOT Bureau of Public Transportation.

 

The Board supported the staff’s recommendation with the exception of the entire Board being involved.  The Board concurred with Tom Kurtz’s recommendation that a single Board member be appointed to serve as a liaison.  Chairman Spychalski appointed Richard Kipp to serve as the Board liaison and Joe Davidson to serve as the alternate.  The staff was asked to provide names of members of the community that the Board might consider for appointment to serve on the project Management Team; it was agreed that Teresa Davis, Director of the Penn State Office of Transportation, would be contacted to coordinate representation from the University; the possibility of including a Penn State student was also discussed.   

 

The Board also agreed that the name Project Management Team should be used rather than Steering Committee.  It was noted that Greg will serve as the Project Management Team Leader.

  

D.    Ongoing Awareness Building and Outreach

 Greg Kausch presented Policy Question # 2 – What methods should be used to keep local and regional transportation officials engaged in the progress of the study?  The staff recommendation was to provide updates to the CATA Board of Directors on a monthly basis, interim reports as each main task is completed, status reports to COG / CCMPO committees as necessary / desired. 

 

Tom Kurtz suggested that PennDOT and Penn State be added to the list; Chairman Spychalski suggested that reports to the Board might be less frequent than monthly and that perhaps reports should only be provided within CATA and the final product to the COG / CCMPO.  Tom Zilla stated that it would be important to keep the COG Finance Committee and Transportation and Land Use Committee and the MPO informed throughout the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

    V.            Task I – Current CATA Operations

A.     Mode Coverage

Greg Kausch presented Policy Question # 3 – Which CATA modes and services should be examined as part of the project?  The staff recommendation was to include all modes – fixed route, ridesharing, and demand response.  The Board concurred with the staff recommendation.  Tom Kurtz suggested that the question of whether CATA will get involved in other modes of transportation should be addressed as the project progresses and the Board concurred.  

 

B.     Performance Measures

Greg Kausch presented Policy Question # 4 – Which measures should be used to gauge route and service performance?  The staff recommendation was to include ridership, cost per revenue hour and unlinked trip, cost recovery ratio, ridership per revenue hour, average vehicle speed, fare payment method, vehicle capacity, on-time performance, service interruptions, and maintenance costs. 

 

The Board concurred with the staff recommendation.  The Board requested that data published by the agreed upon list of peer systems should be considered as a basis for comparison.  Hugh Mose recommended the National Transit Database be consulted.  Louwana Oliva suggested that the human resources required per function be considered.  Chairman Spychalski cautioned that route-specific measures may detract from being able to see the bigger picture.

 

C.     Route “Dashboard” Concept

Greg Kausch shared a slide of a “dashboard” report format that he proposes to use for the project.  This concept will employ a simple, easy to understand display of route and mode specific data.

 

D.    Comparison to Peer Systems (Pennsylvania and National)

Greg Kausch presented Policy Question # 5 – To which peer systems should CATA be compared?  Greg reported that in consultation with the CATA staff, PennDOT has developed a list of peer systems that can be used to compare performance, including Ames, IA; Ithaca, NY; Gainesville, FL; Davis, CA; Lafayette, IN; Lubbock, TX; Chapel Hill, NC; Blacksburg, VA; Urbana, IL; Lexington, KY; Lincoln, NE; South Bend, IN; and Fort Collins, CO. 

 

The Board concurred with the recommended list and suggested that Athens, GA be added even though they have separate community and campus transportation systems.

Louwana Oliva suggested that in addition to comparing data, we should look at how other systems do what they do.

 

 VI.            Task II – Inventory of Local Transportation Services

A.  Centre County Office of Transportation Services (CCOT)

Greg Kausch presented Policy Question # 6 – Should CCOT operations be examined at a higher level of detail than other local transportation services?  The staff recommendation was that based on the high degree of coordination taking place between CATA and CCOT, the examination should take place a higher level of detail, similar to the level utilized for CATA services.  The Board concurred that a sufficient level of detail be provided to make decisions, but cautioned Greg to maintain an appropriate level of focus.

 

 

VII.            Task III– Service Area Characteristics

A.  Geographic Level of Analysis

Greg Kausch presented Policy Question # 7 – What geographic level of analysis should be utilized for the project?  The staff recommendation was that because of the potential for CATA’s current service area, in particular the fixed route, to expand in the coming years, a demographic and journey-to-work analysis of the entire county be conducted, at the census tract level or finer, where possible. Greg stated that an alternative would be to use a county level of detail for general services and then consider journey-to-work data beyond the county.  Tom Kurtz requested consideration of the inclusion of cross community trends and needs.  Tom Zilla cautioned that the quality of the journey-to-work data has gone downhill as the census has stopped doing much data collection of that type and the American Community Survey data is a small sample size.

 

The Board concurred with the alternative to use a county level of detail for general services and journey-to-work data beyond the county.  Again, the level of detail should be balanced against the appropriate level of focus.

 

VIII.            Task IV– Key Stakeholder Involvement

A.   Stratification of Stakeholder Groups.

      Greg Kausch presented Policy Question # 8 – How should stakeholders be grouped?

      The staff recommendation was to propose four levels of stakeholder involvement,
      with the CATA Board of Directors maintaining the highest level of involvement, a 

      “core group” of the Board of Directors and senior staff participating in a visioning  

       exercise with a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis, then  

       operations and front-line personnel being provided an opportunity for input as well as the    

       final results of the project and other community stakeholders receiving much the same 

       treatment as operations and front-line personnel.

 

       The Board concurred with the staff recommendation.  Tom Kurtz requested that “other       

       stakeholders” be specified and include elected officials.

     

 IX.            Task V– Rider and Non-Rider Involvement

A.   Survey Instruments

      Greg Kausch presented Policy Question # 9 – What methods should be used to capture    

      rider and non-rider input?  The staff recommendation is to use CATA’s extensive     

      database of rider email addresses to administer a survey instrument via direct email; a

      similar online instrument is proposed for use with non-riders.  

 

      Tom Kurtz stated that CATA’s email list may not be representative of the ridership base       

      and also suggested checking with other municipalities to see if any were planning a       

      survey in which they would consider including some questions on CATA’s behalf.    

      Louwana Oliva suggested that a PennDOT-mandated customer satisfaction survey may be  

      modified to meet the needs of the project. Chairman Spychalski and Joe Davidson  

      expressed their preference for use of an on-board survey. The Board consensus was to 

      utilize an on-board survey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

    X.            Task VI– Institutional and Regulatory Climate

Greg Kausch proposed that the institutional and regulatory elements  of the following would be examined in relation to CATA’s Strategic Plan: federal, state and local/municipal partners; Penn State University; American Public Transportation Association and Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association; Other transportation providers; Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and CATA’s collective bargaining constraints.  The Board concurred.

 

 XI.            Task VII– Projections

Greg Kausch proposed that projections would include consideration of the following:

o   Ridership estimates developed through a geographic level of analysis

o   Analysis of the current service supply against areas of unmet demand

o   Consideration of future transportation projects and demand

o   Demographics

o   Land Development

o   Funding          

 

Tom Kurtz requested that a “report card” on the achievement of the goals set out in the 1998 and 2004 plans be included.

 

XII.            Task VIII – Strategic and Development Recommendations

Greg Kausch proposed that strategies and recommendations would include the following:

o   Summary of key findings

o   Needs assessment

o   Strategies to address needs in order of priority

o   Implementation schedule

o   Budgetary information / cost and revenue estimates

o   Capital needs

o   Potential funding sources

o   Schedule for future assessments

o   Identification of implementation team members

o   Performance measures

 

XIII.            Project Schedule

A.  Project Milestones

      Greg Kausch proposed the following project schedule:

            Task I     Current CATA Operations: August - September 2013

            Task II    Local Inventory of Transportation Services: October – November 2013

            Task III   Service Area Characteristics: December 2013 – January 2014

            Task IV   Key Stakeholder Involvement: February – March 2014

            Task V     Rider and Non-Rider Involvement: April – May 2014

            Task VI   Institutional and Regulatory: June – July 2014

            Task VII Projections: August – October 2014

            Task VIII Strategic and Development Recommendations: November 2014 – January                          2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XIV.            General Questions

A.  Involvement of the General Manager

     Greg Kausch presented Policy Question # 10 – Which work elements would the Board of    

     Directors like to see completed earlier in the process, specifically, before the retirement of

     the General Manager?  The staff recommendation was to have the General Manager

     assume an especially prominent role in Tasks IV (Key Stakeholder Involvement) and VI

     (Institutional and Regulatory Climate), though there may be other appropriate places as   

     well. 

 

     The Board concurred with the staff recommendation and also Joe Davidson’s suggestion 

     that the General Manager also play a prominent role in Task VIII (Strategic and

     Development Recommendations).

 

     The Board directed the staff to express appreciation to PennDOT for the Technical  

     Assistance grant funding.  Tom Zilla expressed that he felt it would be important for

     the project to remain focused, for someone at CATA to be responsible to be sure that

     the work is getting done and that the transition between General Managers not negatively

     impact the project.

 

XV.            Adjournment

Chairman Spychalski declared the meeting adjourned at 7:47 p.m.

 

 

________________________________

            Hugh A. Mose, Secretary

 

            ___________________

            Date