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PCC Executive Committee Meeting
May 21, 2008

711 Eddy Street, San Francisco

PCC Executive Committee Members Present: Cheryl Damico, Chair; Jeanne Lynch, Secretary; Griff Humphrey; John Lazar; Ruth Lawner; Yetta Miller; Sandra Fancher; Melecio Torres; Scott Blum; Abby Lamb; Erica Hamilton; Matthew Yamashita; Kaye Griffin; Ruach Graffis; Erma Brim; Jacy Cohen

PCC Executive Committee Members Excused: Gilda Chico; Patricia Lovelock; Dee Ann Hendrix; Silas Telfor; Lisa Rosene

Guests: Silvero Sanchez, MV Transportation; Jordanna Thigpen, SF Taxi Commission; Charles Rathbone, Luxor Cab; Gratchia Makarian, Black and White Cab; Bruce Oka, SFMTA; Troy Barnes, MPT

Paratransit Broker: Marc Soto; Kevin McNay

Muni: Annette Williams; Kate Toran

Read and Approve Agenda

Cheryl Damico called the meeting to order at 10:35 am.  Jeanne Lynch read the agenda.  Ruach Graffis moved that an item on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Transportation 2035 plan be added to the agenda.  The agenda was motioned/seconded/passed (M/S/P) as amended.

Approve minutes of April 9, 2008 meeting

The minutes were M/S/P as presented.

Report from the May 7, 2008 PC&O Taxi/Ramp Taxi meeting

Kate Toran read the following report:

• Kate Toran reported that the Ramp Taxi Driver incentive program was presented to the SFMTA Board and now Muni staff is able to move the project forward.  Kate stated that the next step is to modify the Broker contract to incorporate the incentive program for the ramp taxi program.  Then, the Broker will need to amend the current cab companies’ contracts to outline the requirements for them to fulfill.  Kate reported that Muni has a general plan to implement the incentive program, but will work to develop a step-by-step plan.  First, Muni and the Broker staff will meet internally to develop a specific plan.  This plan will then be introduced to a group of taxi representatives for fine tuning and testing.  Kate stated that the SFMTA is committed to a one-year pilot program during which time review of the plan will occur.

• Tulay Atalay introduced Phillip McCants from Veolia Transportation.  Phillip was newly hired as the Contract Administrator and during the debit card project implementation period, his main responsibility will be with that project.

• Patricia Lovelock provided an overview of the ramp taxi medallion interview process.  Pat stated that even though the process has been working very well, it can still be improved. Laurie Graham suggested creating a list of questions, giving the list to the applicants before the interview, and then during the interview, ask the applicants to answer a selected number of questions from this list.  Griff Humphrey suggested that the applicants be interviewed more than once.

• The importance of monitoring the ramp drivers’ on-going commitment after they receive their medallions was discussed.  Kate explained that it is the SF Taxi Commission’s duty to monitor the ramp taxi driver compliance with the rules.  Kate stated that our role is to help the SF Taxi Commission to monitor driver compliance.  Usage of mystery riders to check the quality of ramp taxi drivers was suggested.  Kate stated that she developed a Secret Rider form for the ramp taxi service, but there has been limited participation from riders.  Kate will bring the Ramp Taxi Secret Rider form to the next meeting.

• Kate reported that the Taxi Commission merger with the SFMTA was discussed at the last SFMTA board meeting.  The Board of Supervisors will hear the item at their next meeting.  The merger has not been finalized yet, and must be approved by the Board of Supervisors before the merger can be complete.

• Charles Rathbone from Luxor Cab Company explained that both wheelchair users and drivers support riders calling drivers directly on their cell phones to request a pick-up, which by-passes the company’s dispatch process.  He explained that this could lead to a degradation of the dispatch process because the ramp drivers give their cell phone numbers to the preferred riders.  Therefore, if a ramp taxi request comes through dispatch, the ramp drivers may think that it is from a non-preferred rider and may not want to service the order.

After Kate presented the report, Jordanna Thigpen added that it was determined by the Board of Supervisors that the merger plan needs more work and they requested that Nathaniel Ford report back in 180 days with a more detailed merger implementation plan.  It was suggested that Accessible Services be combined with the new Taxi Division.

5310 Grant Update

Kate reported that the FY07-08 Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) 5310 grant cycle is underway.  The grant program provides funds for accessible vehicles and equipment used to transport seniors and persons with disabilities.  This year, there is $12.1M available in funding for California.  The federal grant covers 88% of the cost.  There have been some changes in the process this year related to the new requirements derived from the Coordinated Transportation Plan.

Kate added that the PCC’s role in this process is to review and score the applications submitted by agencies in San Francisco.  There are six San Francisco applicants in the current cycle.  The grants were due to MTC on May 16th, and the scoring team will meet on May 28th to score the proposals. Kate stated that she still needed a couple of volunteers and she asked anyone interested to let her know at the end of the meeting. 

New Freedom Fund Grant Report

Annette Williams reported that there is a new federal grant program to provide money for transportation projects that go beyond the ADA requirements.  The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is administering the grant program, and the second call for projects will be released in the coming months.  SFMTA submitted two applications (ramp taxi driver incentives and push-to-talk technology for the fixed route system) in the first call for projects last spring.  SFMTA staff members have been discussing potential grant applications, and tentatively are focusing on two potential projects: a shopping trips grant and a dialysis planning grant.  Shopping service comes up frequently in discussion of unmet needs of the senior and disabled community. 

The concept of the dialysis planning grant is to develop a long-term plan to provide improved and consistent service to persons going to dialysis centers through a comprehensive planning process.  Muni and the Broker currently meet quarterly with the dialysis center representatives to discuss service quality issues. 

MTC’s Transportation 2035

Ruach Graffis stated that she read an article in the Examiner about MTC’s Bay Area Transportation 2035 Plan, which will develop a blueprint for transportation investments over the next 25 years.  MTC will hold a workshop in San Francisco tomorrow (5/22), 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at 835 Market Street, Room E673.  Ruach read a letter regarding BART elevators and curb cuts that she prepared with the intention of submitting it to the MTC as part of this planning effort.  Bruce agreed that the PCC should send the letter to the MTC.  It was motioned/seconded and passed that Ruach will finalize the letter and present it at the workshop tomorrow evening. 

Paratransit Eligibility Appeals Training Update

Kate Toran held a paratransit eligibility appeals training session for PCC members interested in serving on the Appeals Panel.  The training session was held at the Paratransit office and was attended by five PCC members and three Muni staff members.  The training session went very well, and many of the participants had experience with the paratransit eligibility process. 

Kate provided a brief overview of the eligibility appeals process.  She explained that making paratransit eligibility determinations is a very challenging job, and a big responsibility.  The Eligibility staff members at the Broker’s office are well-trained and follow a thorough process.  The Appeals is an important part of the eligibility process.  The Appeals Panel is comprised of a paratransit consumer, a transit professional and a medical professional.

Jacy Cohen added that it is a fair and compassionate process, although she suggested that the Broker’s staff read through the application before reading it aloud in the Appeals Hearing because often words are mispronounced and it tends to look unprofessional.

Erica Hamilton stated that the Adult Day Health Care requirements are very stringent because MediCal is involved in the process and they are extremely strict with their requirements.  MediCal just revised their eligibility requirements in February.  Erica added if the ADHC clients already go through a very strict eligibility process maybe they should not be required to go through the paratransit eligibility process, since it seems like a duplicative process.  Annette stated that this had been discussed before, and that possibly ADHC group van riders could be eligible for group van services with a shortened process but if they wanted full ADA eligibility, then they could choose to apply for full services.  Erica stated that she would send the revised MediCal eligibility criteria.

Paratransit Broker Report

Marc Soto provided the following report:

Debit Card: There has been a lot of work happening on the debit card project.  SFMTA, Booz Allen Hamilton and Veolia have been meeting and developing the solicitation documents for the Debit Card Central System (DCCS).  The competitive solicitation documents for the DCCS will be issued in the coming weeks.  The In-Taxi Equipment (ITE) solicitation documents will be issued a week or so after the release of the DCCS documents.  The Broker met with Luxor and Yellow to discuss the status of the debit card project.

Paratransit Customer Satisfaction Survey: The Annual Paratransit Customer Satisfaction Survey is underway.  The survey instrument was reviewed by a small working group of PCC members, and was revised based on their input. 

Vehicle Procurement: The SFMTA is in the process of procuring 40 new vehicles, a combination of minivans and cutaway buses.  The first six cutaway vans will be delivered to MPT in the coming weeks.  These vehicles have diesel engines and we are intending to operate them using biodiesel fuel.

Mobility Plus Transportation: MPT’s service quality has improved substantially.  Complaints have been reduced although there are still a few group van issues to work out.  Dialysis service has been going much better. 

Information Technology: The Broker is in the process of transitioning from Mobility Master software to Trapeze NOVUS.  The Trapeze NOVUS software will integrate with the debit card software system, and will provide more robust routing/scheduling and dispatching tools.  On-board computers will be able to link up with the Trapeze system, which should improve service quality and fleet control through better live dispatching and routing assistance to drivers.

After Marc’s report, John Lazar stated that not all taxis should be equipped with the debit card hardware because some of the small companies do not pick up paratransit riders.  Jordanna Thigpen responded that the cabs that are not picking up paratransit riders should not be in business.  Melecio Torres stated that he is concerned about fraud with the debit card system and that he read an article about fraud in Reader’s Digest, which he passed on to Kate Toran.

Jordanna stated that there will be a budget hearing on the SF Taxi Commission budget on Thursday at 4:00 pm at City Hall in the Board of Supervisors’ chambers.  The Taxi Commission budget includes an additional investigator position which is necessary to have in order to monitor compliance with the paratransit program among other compliance issues.  The PCC members voted to send a letter to the Board of Supervisors supporting the addition of an investigator position in the SF Taxi Commission budget.


Kevin McNay announced that the next PC&O SF Access meeting will be held on June 4th from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm at the Paratransit office.

Jeanne Lynch announced that Senior Action Network is sponsoring survey regarding bikes on the sidewalk, and there will be a big campaign in June on this topic.

Kate announced that the PCC Appreciation will be held in June and that she is working on the details and will keep the group posted.

The next PCC meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 13, 2008 

10:30 am – 12:30 pm at 711 Eddy Street. 

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