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RIDERSHIP INITIATIVE TO DEVELOP ENERGY-EFFICIENCY (RIDE) TASK FORCE

Wednesday, August 23, 2006
4:00 PM

Conference Rooms W118 & W 119
200 East Santa Clara Street
3331 North First Street
San Jose, California
 

 

Minutes

1.

CALLED TO ORDER at 4:04 p.m.

INTRODUCTIONS

Received introductions from the following RIDE Task Force Members and VTA staff:

  • Nora Campos, Co-Chairperson, stated she has enjoyed working with all of the  Task Force Members and is looking forward to taking their ideas to the Board of Directors.
  • Dan Smith, Chief Operating Officer
  • David Julian, VTA Committee for Transit Accessibility
  • Russell Buston, City of Sunnyvale NOVA, thanked the Co-Chairpersons for allowing him to serve on the Task Force.
  • Chris Lepe, Transportation and Land Use Coalition (TALC), thanked everyone for their participation.
  • Walter Schinke, Silicon Valley Independent Living Center, thanked the Task Force on behalf of Terry Applegate and stated he appreciates everything that was accomplished.
  • David Lopez, Marketing Development Manager, thanked the Task Force for the input provided to staff regarding their marketing strategy. 
  • Nancy Coss-Fitzwater, VTA Operations Policy & Administration Manager
  • Eyedin Zonobi, San Jose State Transportation Solutions
  • Irene Hsu, Representing Bob Brownstein and Working Partnerships USA
  • Diane Hermone, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 265, thanked everyone for their cooperation and reception of input. Member Hermone stated there have been interesting sessions and is impressed with staff.
  • Steve Glickman, Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) Chairperson
  • Jamie Matthews, Co-Chairperson, stated it has been a privilege to have the opportunity to examine important issues such as increasing ridership and accessibility.   Co-Chairperson Matthews noted staff’s extraordinary support and ability to gather and provide information to the RIDE Task Force and the Board of Directors.   

The following RIDE Task Force Member was in attendance, but arrived after the introductions: 

Patrick Moore, Sierra Club

   
2.

PUBLIC PRESENTATIONS

Jerry Grace, Interested Citizen, stated he has information regarding ridership during the six Spare the Air Days. 

Mr. Grace stated this is the last meeting and hopes that a good report comes out of this Committee. 

   
3.

Minutes of June 28, 2006

Ms. Coss-Fitzwater referenced Page 9 of 9, Paragraph 1, and requested that “VTA is the third transit agency in the Bay Area to obtain TransLink” be replaced with “VTA is scheduled to implement TransLink in Phase 2.4 of the Project currently scheduled for August 2007.” 

On order of Co-Chairperson Campos, there being no objection, the Task Force accepted the Minutes of June 28, 2006 as amended.

   
4.

Summary of the Task Force and Sub-Committee Activity    

Mr. Smith reported that the RIDE Task Force has been charged with exploring new, innovative, and cost-effective methods of increasing bus and light rail ridership that are compatible with VTA’s existing policies.  The Task Force has identified approximately 150 ideas for improving ridership. 

Mr. Smith noted that accomplishments to date will be well documented in the Draft Final Report that will be reviewed at today’s meeting. 

The accomplishments are as follows: 1) 8-Hour Light Rail Excursion Fare; 2) Subsidized Transit Fares for Low Income Persons; 3) Several Marketing Promotions; 4) Website Improvements; 6) Google Transit Trip Planner; 7) Real Time Passenger Information; 8) Bus Stop Accessibility; 9) Bicycle Access; 10) Community Design;  11) Comprehensive Operation Analysis (COA); and, 12) Service improvements.

Mr. Smith reported that the Pre-Agenda Sub-Committee met with staff on Friday, August 11, 2006 to develop the Agenda for today’s Meeting. The Pre-Agenda  Sub-Committee also discussed how to best handle the changes to the Draft Final Report and have recommended that once staff makes the necessary changes, the Final Report be recirculated to the Task Force.  Mr. Smith stated that at that point any additional comments should be directed to one or two Task Force representatives who will work with staff to finalize the Report. 

Mr. Smith stated it is VTA’s intention to present the Final Report to VTA’s Advisory Committees, the Transit Planning and Operations (TP&O) Committee in October 2006, and to the Board of Directors in November 2006.  Mr. Smith stated that in order to meet the timeline, all work on the Final Report will need to be completed by mid-September 2006. 

Mr. Grace asked what would happen if the Task Force recommendations did not work out.   Ms. Coss-Fitzwater responded that it is VTA’s goal to forward a completed Final Report, along with the recommendations, to the Board of Directors for approval. Ms. Coss-Fitzwater advised Mr. Grace that the Board of Directors is likely to request staff to provide periodic follow-up with respect to implementation of the Task Force’s recommendations.

On order of Co-Chairperson Campos, there being no objection, the Summary of the Task Force and Sub-Committee Activity was received.

   
5.

eceive a Presentation on Results of Recent Promotions

A.  8-Hour Light Rail Excursion Fare

Mr. Lopez provided a PowerPoint Presentation outlining Project   Goals, Tactics, Campaign, Advertising, Results, Results (in Ticket Sales), Results (in Revenue), Results to Date, Next Steps, an outline regarding the 8-Hour Excursion Pass, and a brief summary regarding other marketing initiatives conducted during the first half of 2006. 

Mr. Lopez stated that the Project Goals for the 8-Hour Excursion Pass Pilot Program included developing an affordable and convenient light rail pass that would act as a round trip type fare and address the logistical difficulties created following large events at the Light Rail Ticket Vending Machines (TVM).

Mr. Lopez reported that the tactics were to introduce the adult, youth and senior disabled/Medicare fare categories; an alternative round-trip type fare; passes priced at twice the single-ride fare; and an attractive fare for trips to entertainment and other leisure destinations.  

Mr. Lopez reported that the 8-Hour Light Rail Excursion Pass was introduced on June 1, 2006 and tagged as a Light Rail pass priced just right for any event, with emphasis that the pass could only be used on Light Rail.  

Mr. Lopez noted that an advertising promotional campaign was conducted including cable television, radio, print, transit advertisements, VTA’s Take-One and VTA’s website. 

Mr. Lopez provided examples of posters, print ads, and bus and light rail interior advertisements for the Task Force’s review.

Mr. Lopez announced that in June 2006, a total of 2,514 Excursion Passes were sold and in July 2006, 14,520 Excursion Passes were sold.    Mr. Lopez noted that The Grand Prix and Fourth of July events generated increased sales in July 2006. 

Mr. Lopez explained that Light Rail ticket sales for all categories were up approximately 10,220 passes in June 2006, compared to June 2005 and up approximately 9,047 passes in July 2006, compared to July 2005.  Comparing revenue for the same periods, including the sales of the Excursion Pass, there was an increase of approximately $16,500 in June 2006, compared to June 2005, and approximately $10,700 in July 2006, compared to July 2005. 

Mr. Lopez noted that in July 2005 free fares were provided to the public on the Fourth of July because of the problems VTA had with the public trying to access the TVM’s after events and that the Excursion Pass provided VTA an opportunity to charge for fares in 2006. 

Mr. Lopez stated that the Next Steps are to complete the pilot program by December 2006, evaluate the program, and forward staff’s recommendation to the VTA Board of Directors based on the results of the pilot program.

Co-Chairperson Campos asked if the recommendations will be presented to the Board of Directors at their January 2007 Meeting.    Mr. Lopez stated that staff expects to forward the recommendations in either January 2007 or February 2007.

Member Glickman complimented staff on their Outreach efforts.                         Member Glickman inquired if it would be appropriate to approach people who are selling tickets to special events (such as the San Jose Grand Prix, Fourth of July and the San Jose Shark’s games) to sell the Excursion Passes as well.  Mr. Lopez responded that VTA staff approached the San Jose Grand Prix but they were not receptive to the idea this year, however, staff is hopeful that they will be in 2007.  

Co-Chairperson Campos recommended that VTA immediately begin conversations with event sponsors for the 2007 Grand Prix event.

Member Lepe inquired why the 8-Hour Excursion Fare was only offered for Light Rail and not bus service.   Mr. Lopez explained that the Pass could only be used for eight hours and given the current technology used by VTA on buses it would be difficult to accurately monitor the program.  Member Lepe referenced a program other cities, such as San Francisco, offer wherein a pass is stamped and passengers are allotted a certain number of hours to travel and recommended that VTA consider using a similar type of pass for its bus system.  Mr. Lopez thanked Member Lepe for his recommendation. 

B.  Spring/Summer Promotions

Mr. Lopez provided a brief recap of the initiatives:   Simple and Free Program, Summer Blast Pass, and Meet the Riders.

Mr. Lopez reported that the Simple and Free Campaign was targeted at seniors and persons with disabilities by providing free rides on the entire system during off peak weekday hours and all day on weekends.   The results of that program showed that 656,578 complimentary boardings were provided by VTA.   Mr. Lopez noted that VTA received a significant amount of feedback from the public who had never tried VTA’s service and who took advantage of the program and from current riders who felt the program was a way of thanking them for their patronage. 

Mr. Lopez noted that as a result of the free service provided, VTA’s partners in cable, television, and radio were very receptive and provided VTA with approximately $87,000 in free advertising and public service announcements. 

Mr. Lopez stated that 2006 is the second year that VTA has offered the Youth Summer Blast Pass, a discounted three-month pass sold for $75.   The duration of the Pass was from June 1, 2006 through August 31, 2006.

Pass sales for 2006 were $1,650 compared to 2005 where sales equaled $1,456, representing a 13 percent increase.   Mr. Lopez noted that based on research, a program such as this will take three to four years to fully escalate.

Mr. Lopez stated that information on the total sales of the Summer Blast Pass will be available at the end of September 2006.  

VTA’s newest and final campaign is the Meet the Riders Campaign. Seven events were included in this Campaign where members of the public were invited to come out, ride to a VTA designated location, find the person wearing the rider gear and say, “I’m a VTA Rider”, present a valid pass and receive a prize.  Mr. Lopez noted that 161 riders participated in the seven promotions throughout the County of Santa Clara. 

Mr. Lopez stated VTA had 560 hits on its website for the first four promotions and results of the last three promotions are not yet available. 

Mr. Lopez acknowledged Eastridge Mall, Westfield Shopping Center, Valley Fair and Oakridge Shopping Centers, Camera Cinemas, Century Theaters,  Great America, and Raging Waters for their donations.  

Co-Chairperson Campos stated she was very impressed with staff’s presentation on VTA outreach programs to raise public awareness about the value of public transit.   She was also impressed the public’s willingness to use bus and light rail as a mode of transportation. 

On order of Co-Chairperson Campos, there being no objection, the Presentation on Result of Recent Promotions was received.

   
6.

Draft Final Report

Ms. Coss-Fitzwater stated that a draft copy of the Final Report was provided to the RIDE Task Force for review.   The Members were asked to come to the meeting prepared to make suggested changes, additions, and/or deletions to the Final Report.  Once there is general agreement by the Task Force, the Final Report will be provided to the TP&O Committee and to the Board of Directors. 

Member Zonobi provided a letter dated August 23, 2006 to the RIDE Task Force outlining San Jose State’s final recommendation.   Member Zonobi stated that San Jose State has a very successful ECO Pass Program and that it is the goal of San Jose State to bring everyone into the program. 

Member Zonobi advised that other regional transit systems in Santa Clara County such as Caltrain, Highway 17 Express, and Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) Train should be included in the ECO Pass privileges as well as fare arrangements between transit agencies that provide direct connection with VTA. 

Member Zonobi noted that the ECO Pass was applied to Caltrain in the past and inquired as to what happened to the Program.   Mr. Lopez stated that Caltrain was part of an ECO Pass pilot program, but he could not recall why it was discontinued. 

Mr. Smith advised that VTA is researching whether or not to extend the ECO Pass program to the Monterey/San Jose Express Service but a decision has not been made. 

Member Moore thanked staff for providing him with Agenda Packets from the meetings he was not able to attend.

Member Moore recommended that the Summer Blast Pass Program be made a permanent program for the youth, that desired goals to be achieved by staff be included in the in the Final Report, and schedules and fares from other transit agencies be coordinated with VTA. 

Member Lepe recommended that VTA develop a Real-Time Passenger Information Project at major bus stops, transit centers, and light rail stations.

Member Lepe stated he would provide assistance with the Community College ECO Pass program whenever possible.

Member Lepe queried how the Committee’s recommendations will be implemented if funding is not available.

Member Julian stated that without accessible paths of travel to light rail stations or bus stops for people with disabilities and seniors, VTA is not a viable transportation option.   Member Julian stressed the importance of having a program that understands the need for safe accessible paths to bus stops and light rail stations.  Co-Chairperson Campos thanked Member Julian for his input.  

Member Schinke concurred with Member Julian’s comment regarding accessibility.   Member Schinke reported that bus stops in the City of Gilroy were inventoried for accessibility.  He expressed concern that it could take up to five or more years to make the 17 to 18 bus stops accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).   Member Schinke recommended that VTA coordinate with Don Dey, City of Gilroy Transportation Engineer regarding accessibility. 

Member Schinke clarified that while VTA staff stated that bus stops installed before the ADA was implemented in 1990 are grandfathered in, the ADA does not have a “grandfather clause.” 

Member Hermone recommended that accessibility be a priority for VTA.   Ms. Coss-Fitzwater advised that although VTA does has an annual capital project to improve bus stop accessibility, over the past few years the program has been reduced because of limited resources.  Ms. Coss-Fitzwater stated one of the recommendations that could be included in the Final Report would be to increase the funding available for that annual capital project, but that will be a decision made through VTA’s budget process.   Co-Chairperson Campos requested that a referral be made to the TP&O Committee to review the current bus stop accessibility program.

Member Glickman recommended the RIDE Task Force be provided with periodic status reports.

Member Moore recommended that cities reallocate their funding for sidewalk projects and bus stop accessibility. 

Co-Chairperson Campos requested that any additional comments for the  Draft Final Report be emailed to Member Brownstein or Member Moore.   Ms. Coss-Fitzwater stated that staff hopes to bring the Final Report to the  TP&O Committee in October 2006 and to the Board of Directors in November 2006. 

Jim Stallman, City of Saratoga, referenced Page 7 stating that the second paragraph can be misleading because some of VTA properties do not have bicycle racks.

Mr. Stallman referenced Page 8, Fare Affordability and Convenience, and recommended that a bullet should be added to make service free because “the cost of having fares exceeds the fare revenue for VTA.” 

Mr. Stallman recommended a bullet be added that parking cash out should be employed with City Carshare. 

Mr. Stallman referenced Page 3, Better Access to System, and requested a new bullet be added that VTA provide bicycle racks to transit modes where bicycle racks are now missing.    

Mr. Stallman recommended VTA provide a Day Pass Token to Committee Members for every meeting.

Mr. Grace asked when the advertising for the Summer Blast Pass commenced.  Mr. Lopez responded that the advertising campaign started in April 2006 and sales commenced in May 2006.  Mr. Grace asked how people were able to obtain the  Summer Blast Pass. Mr. Lopez responded that the passes were sold at VTA’s  Downtown Customer Service Center, River Oaks sales location and consignees such as Safeway and Longs.  Mr. Lopez stated that all of the locations where the passes could be purchased were published in VTA’s website and VTA’s Take-One.    

   
7.

Announcements

Co-Chairperson Campos closed by thanking staff for their hard work and the RIDE Task Force Members for their commitment and stated that it has been a very helpful process for not only herself but for the rest of the VTA Board of Directors.

   
8.

ADJOURNED to light refreshments at 5:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Gilda M. Grozdanich, Board Assistant
VTA Board of Directors