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PCC Executive Committee Meeting
April 8, 2009
711 Eddy Street, San Francisco

PCC Executive Committee Members Present: Cheryl Damico, Chair; Matthew Yamashita; Genya Ehrlich; Griff Humphrey; Ruth Lawner; Claudia Grubler; Jacy Cohen; Laurie Graham; John Lazar; Kaye Griffin; Yetta Miller; Russell Green; Gratchia Makarian; Benny Wong; Pam Martinez; Nelu Zia; Joseph Flanagan; Abby Lamb; Gilda Chico; Sandra Fancher; Melecio Torres; Byron Yan

PCC Members and Guests: Jeanne Lynch; Troy Barnes, MPT; Jane Bolig, DeSoto; Ernesto Zamora, MPT; Sonali Bose, SFMTA;

PCC Executive Committee Member Excused: Silas Telfor, Michael Kwok, Olivia Santiago

Paratransit Broker: Marc Soto; Kevin McNay

Muni: Annette Williams; Jeffrey Banks; Kate Toran; Christiane Hayashi

Read and Approve Agenda

Cheryl Damico called the meeting to order at 10:35 am.  Pam Martinez read the agenda.  The agenda was motioned/seconded/passed (M/S/P) as presented with the item Muni Outreach added under Paratransit Broker Report.

Cheryl asked to accommodate guest speaker Sonali Bose, CFO of SFMTA, when she arrives by moving item 7 of the agenda.

Approve minutes of February 25, 2009 meeting

The minutes were M/S/P as presented.

Comment from the Chair

Cheryl stated that, according to the Bylaws, PCC members are required to sit on one standing subcommittee. The following subcommittees are reported in synopsis at PCC meetings:         

  • SF Access – For those interested in SF Access issues. Vice Chair is Joseph Flanagan.
  • Taxi/Ramp Taxi Subcommittee – For those interested in the use of taxis and ramp taxis. Vice Chair is Gratchia Makarian
  • Group Van Subcommittee – Mainly for agency representatives but other members who have a concern can join.  Vice Chair is Tracy McCloud
  • Planning and Review Subcommittee – This committee meets as needed to review Bylaws and plan the PCC Annual Meeting in November

The PCC Officers met since the last PCC meeting with Christiane Hayashi, Director of Taxi and Accessible Services. The Taxi Commission has been merged with the SFMTA; Ms. Hayashi was hired as Director of Taxi and Accessible Services. The PCC Officers met to put together concerns regarding the new structure of the taxi service. The issues discussed with Ms. Hayashi included the relationship of Taxi Detail to the SFMTA, existing Taxi and Ramp Taxi schools, and a request for update of antiquated instructional documents.

Cheryl stated that there was an opening on the SFMTA’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee for a paratransit consumer.  For more information on this opening please see Kate Toran. Kate said the Charter calls for two users on the CAC to be paratransit users.  Supervisor Mar will be making the appointment. His office number is 554-7410.  Jane Bolig stated that the taxi industry currently has no voice at the SFMTA and there should be a seat designated for the industry on the SFMTA CAC.

Jeff Banks announced that the 5310 grant cycle was underway and the SFMTA had formed a Grant Review Subcommittee to score Section 5310 applications. PCC members interested in helping to score the 5310 grant applications can talk with Jeff.  Kate Toran announced that the SFMTA is conducting outreach to nonprofit agencies to assist them with the 5310 process. A workshop is being hosted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in Oakland on April 14th to assist agencies in completing their applications. 

Report from the March 4, 2009 PC&O SF Access Subcommittee

  • Cheryl Damico nominated Joseph Flanagan for Vice Chair of the PC&O SF Access Committee.  Mr. Joseph Flanagan was elected by acclamation.
  • Kevin McNay reported that dialysis service is running at acceptable standards with the exception of a couple complaints concerning long waits for Saturday rides.
  • The group discussed Byron Yan’s suggestion from the December meeting that MPT should use bumper stickers on its vans in an effort to improve passenger/driver safety.  The group decided it would not pursue this issue further.
  • Matt Yamashita reported that MPT has received all the new vans procured by SFMTA and will be replacing the low roof 300 series.
  • Marc Soto reported that the Broker’s office is working with MPT to have all the new vehicles transitioned into the fleet and will be inspecting the remaining in MPT owned vehicles for contractual compliance.
  • Kevin McNay is working on the Paratransit Newsletter. The final draft will be mailed in the coming weeks.

Report from the April 1, 2009 PC&O Group Van Subcommittee

Abby Lamb read the following report.

  • Tracy McCloud was voted vice chair by acclamation.
  • Ulises Santos from Medsam was presented with an award for Group Van Driver of the Quarter. Included with the award was an American Express card for $50.  He was selected for his exceptional service.

Update from agencies and providers on paratransit service quality:

  • Irene Chan of Self Help for the Elderly expressed concern that March participants were on the van more than 1.5 hours. Self Help would like to find a solution with MPT to reduce ride time on van.  Matt Yamashita said Self Help employees are calling drivers directly to add riders when they have cancellations.  This causes confusion for drivers and Matt requested that Self Help call MPT management when requesting same day schedule changes.
  • Nelu Zia speaking on behalf of Adult Day Services Network said that when communication with MPT is not spontaneous, then problems become compounded. Marc Soto encouraged agencies to contact MPT’s group van captain (Natalie 748-4066) immediately if there’s a problem and email the complaint to the Broker’s office. and
  • Nelu also asked if it was possible to get official permission for loading/unloading clients on one-way street.  Marc responded that loading/unloading on the left side of one-way street is illegal and unsafe and that the van companies have tried to establish safe practices, such as parking at an angle and using cones.  Marc stated that the safest way to load/unload riders is on the side of the street that the wheelchair lift can be deployed on the curbside.  If that means that the agency is across the street, Marc suggested that agency staff should help people cross the street.
  • Tracy reported that the Institute on Aging (IOA) had admitted 19 transfer clients from Laguna Honda and the transition has been seamless and that the Broker’s staff, Medsam and IOA have worked closely together to make this happen.

Report from Providers:

    • Matt Yamashita reported Karen has returned to MPT but will not continue as the Group Van Coordinator. Matt stated that MPT would set up a meeting with Self Help and report back to the group at the next meeting.  Natalie is MPT’s group van contact person in the field.
    • Scott Blum of Medsam reported a growth in ridership with 11 individuals from Laguna Honda being transferred to North & South of Market. Medsam may need to hire another driver. 

Marc Soto reported the following:

  • Marc updated the group about the status of the debit card pilot, the paratransit software migration from Mobility Master to Trapeze, the next steps in the upgrading the emergency preparedness plan, and the Broker newsletter. 

Kate Toran announced the next PC&O Group Van meeting is scheduled for July 8, 2009.

Taxi Regulations

Annette Williams announced that Taxi regulations were being reviewed as part of the merger of the Taxi Commission with the SFMTA.  SFMTA staff had a number of questions for the PCC regarding ramp taxi regulations. Annette Williams said that the PCC interview process for ramp medallion applicants should be  included in the regulations.  Annette Williams asked the following questions:

  • Should a ramp taxi medallion applicant have to make a commitment to keep the ramp medallion for at least 5 years?  Laurie Graham said that the problem with the current three year commitment was that drivers didn’t maintain a level of commitment to the program after the initial three years. Annette Williams said that the commitment requirement was ten years when the program started.
  • Ramp medallion applicants are currently required to have 100 pick-ups within six months.  Should this time frame be changed from six months to one year? Gratchia Makarian it was hard for a lot of drivers to comply with the six month rule because of availability. Marc Soto said that a driver’s available pick ups depend on the company they drive for. Laurie Graham recommended that the driving requirement be extended to one year along with the 100 pick-up rule. Ruth Lawner said there had been a lot of problems with ramp pick ups lately.  John Lazar asked Marc Soto for the total ramp pick ups per month.  Annette Williams said it was about 35,000 per year.  Gratchia Makarian said that if you divided it came out to about 3000/month which does not provide drivers one pick up per day. Marc Soto suggested that ramp taxi demand would increase if customers were confident that taxis would show up.  Kate Toran suggested adding an additional 50 more pick ups to the requirement if the time frame is extended.
  • Should the requirement for ramp taxi drivers to call dispatch if they can’t service a wheelchair pick up change from 20 to 40 minutes? Annette Williams said there was already a problem with on-time reliability, so why make it worse. Gratchia Makarian recommended making it 40 minutes for sedan so customers can call another company. Consensus appeared to not support a change in this requirement.
  • Should a ramp medallion be allowed to be used in sedan after daylight hours? Marc Soto stated that the only circumstance in which this would be legitimate would be a ramp maintenance issue. Laurie Graham reiterated that only if the ramp was broken down should they allow the ramp medallion to be used in a sedan. Gratchia Makarian agreed that it should not be allowed.
  • Should ramp taxi medallion holders be allowed to serve as “key personnel” for a color scheme thus making them part of the management team and reducing their driving requirement? The PCC was unanimous in answering, “yes”, to this question. Laurie Graham asked if hours could be prorated for someone working part time in the office. John Lazar agreed that time working in management be applied to their ramp taxi requirements. Jane Bolig said that she thought working in management would make a person more effective with ramp taxi drivers.

Kate Toran raised the issue of dispatch standards for ramp taxis. Should ramp taxis be grouped at a certain number of companies? Should a company be required to have a minimum number of taxis in order to operate a ramp taxi medallion? Gratchia Makarian disagreed, stating that it was important to give opportunities for all participants in the ramp taxi program. Kate Toran stated that some of the smaller taxi companies with only one or two ramp taxis have not been responding to ramp taxi calls. Jane Bolig stated that the problem is not just the numbers of ramp taxis within a company but how quality of service is maintained.

Budget Discussion with Sonali Bose

Cheryl Damico introduced Sonali Bose, Chief Financial Officer for the SFMTA. Sonali Bose announced that the first public hearing to discuss the budget occurred yesterday. Public hearings on the budget options will also occur on April 18 at 1 South Van Ness Atrium and April 21 at the SFMTA Board Meeting.  The budget has to be approved by April 30 and given to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors by May 1.  Sonali Bose addressed the perception that the SFMTA has too many management positions.  Sonali Bose stated that of the 5,000 positions at the MTA, only 120 are managers which represents 2% of the staff. Sonali Bose said that, in the effort to address a budget gap of $129 million, the Board is expected to cut 370 positions, equal to about $32 million, and that service cuts are likely and will amount to about $13 million. Additionally the SFMTA is rolling back all non-personnel line items.  The overall cuts to the SFMTA are $70-75 million.  The additional $40 million will likely come from revenue increases, such as fare and fee hikes which will impact users of transit, taxi, parking, and paratransit. Laurie Graham asked about proposed revenue from the taxi industry.  Sonali Bose said the taxi had two parts: the taxi recovery fees and the proposed auction of taxi medallions. The pilot taxi medallion auction might raise between $5 - $20 million.

Sonali Bose said that paratransit fares are still on the table.  The proposal is to increase van fares from $1.65 to $2.00 and the taxi scrip from $4.00 to $5.00 a book. Jacy Cohen suggested streamlining the administration process and offering a discounted fare rather than no fare to employees.  Annette Williams stated that a fare increase to $2.00 is relatively low compared to other counties regionally.  Most transit agencies are charging the maximum fare.  The SFMTA could be charging as much as $3.00 per trip now and $4.00 if the fixed route fare increase to $2.00.

The Culture Bus is proposed to be cut. The Proof of Payment inspectors include 46 on staff now, 20 additional positions are slated to be cut.

Jeanne Lynch stated that if transit fares are raised there will be more people cheating. Jane Bolig stated that one way or another, the City is going to get $5 to $20 million out of the taxi industry, by taxing or engaging in Prop K reform. Marc Soto suggested that the taxi charge .25 cents tax per flag drop to benefit SFMTA, but paratransit would be exempt. Jane Bolig said any fare increase would be a business-killer for the industry. Byron Yan stated that raising fares on disabled and seniors is wrong. John Lazar stated that the taxi industry is private and there is a cost to put taxis on the street.

Proposition K Reform

Christiane Hayashi stated that the City is looking at the possibilities for reform of Proposition K. The SFMTA received input from the public, through Taxi Town Hall meetings and website, until May 1st. After May 1, there will be analysis of input and the City will look at the advantages and disadvantages of each proposal. Christiane Hayashi explained that Proposition K was the 1978 ballot initiative that changed the laws pertaining to the taxi industry, in part ensuring that the people with right to operate taxis were taxi drivers. Prop K further said that corporations could not hold the medallions and each person could only hold one medallion. Prop K also created the waiting the list for taxi medallion eligibility. Proposition A which brought the Taxi industry under the SFMTA supersedes Prop K because it is a charter amendment adopted by a vote of the people.

Paratransit Broker Report

Marc Soto provided the following report.

Debit Card Update

The debit card pilot is underway and currently has 107 participants.  There have been minimal problems within the pilot. The Broker is working with Luxor and DDS to test changes to their firmware and software and a few deficiencies are being corrected by DDS and will be re-tested when complete.  The Broker and the SFMTA have agreed to expand pilot to add 100 additional participants once Luxor is on board.  Existing participants in the pilot were given a $30 promotional debit card value to encourage use of the new system on DeSoto, National and Yellow.  Gilda Chico outlined some problems with the debit card for blind users including understanding the process of finding out how much money you have on the card and not being able to read the number on the card. Gilda said a smaller client number would work or to receive the number in Braille.

Jane Bolig offered her cell phone (350-3106) to solicited feedback on customer’s experience with the debit card on DeSoto. Jane Bolig thanked Manager Cindy Ward, Head Mechanic Byron Molino, Verifone representative Jeff Kurasik, and Trainer Greg Cochran for getting this off the ground at DeSoto.

Marc Soto stated that the Broker will be able to determine that the pilot is successful by the end of May. The Broker is planning a massive outreach to promote the debit card in the coming months.

Vehicle Procurement and Deployment status

All the paratransit buses have been delivered and assigned to Mobility Plus Transportation will soon be deployed.  There are now 60 SFMTA-owned vehicles being operated by Mobility Plus for SF Paratransit for Group Van and SF Access service.  

Paratransit Information and Technology Update

The Broker gave Notice-to-Proceed to Trapeze software group on transitioning from the existing Mobility Master scrip tracking to the PASS product.  The Broker will have a kick-off meeting tomorrow and is working to keep Trapeze to the schedule within the contract for full implementation.

Service issues within Group Van at Self Help for the Elderly were addressed yesterday with members of the Broker’s office, Mobility Plus and Self Help. One outcome from the meeting was the commitment to evaluate Self Help’s 25 routes to determine flexibility within each route to accommodate same day changes and add-ons.  Marc Soto announced a Passenger Assistance Techniques and Sensitivity (PASS) training class scheduled for April 29, 30 and May 1 at the AC Transit - Hayward training center. This is a train-the-trainer certification program for new instructors and a re-certification class for people who are already certified.


Kate Toran announced the ramp taxi medallion interview scheduled for Thursday, April 16. The applicant is returning for a second interview after being re-trained and meeting the pick up requirement.

The next PCC meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 20, 2009, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm at 711 Eddy Street. 

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