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PCC Executive Committee Meeting
February 25, 2009
711 Eddy Street, San Francisco

PCC Executive Committee Members Present: Cheryl Damico, Chair; Matthew Yamashita; Erma Brim; Genya Ehrlich; Griff Humphrey; Ruth Lawner; Claudia Grubler; Ruach Graffis; Jacy Cohen; Laurie Graham; John Lazar; Olivia Santiago; Kaye Griffin; Yetta Miller; Russell Green; Gratchia Makarian; Benny Wong; Pam Martinez; Scott Blum; Nelu Zia;

PCC Members and Guests: Jeanne Lynch; Jane Bolig; Troy Barnes, MPT; Marty Smith, Luxor; Silverio Sanchez, MV; Bruce Oka, SFMTA

PCC Executive Committee Member Excused: Byron Yan, Gilda Chico, Silas Telfor, Melecio Torres, Stu Smith, Olivia Santiago, Joseph Flanagan, Dee Ann Hendrix

Paratransit Broker: Marc Soto; Kevin McNay

Muni: Annette Williams; Jeffrey Banks

Read and Approve Agenda

Pam Martinez called the meeting to order at 10:40 am.  She then read the agenda.  The agenda was motioned/seconded/passed (M/S/P) as presented.

Approve minutes of December 10, 2008 meeting

The minutes were M/S/P as presented.

Ruth Lawner asked whether the reason that flashing lights on MPT vehicles have not yet been installed was because the software has not been installed yet.  Troy Barnes says the software is being installed for these lights.

Comment from the Chair

Cheryl stated that there was an orientation for new members in February

Cheryl asked to accommodate guest speaker Sonali Bose, CFO of the SFMTA, whenever she arrives by moving item 7 of the agenda. Motion to amend the agenda M/S/P as presented.

Report from the February 4, 2009 PC&O Taxi and Ramp Taxi Subcommittee

Laurie Graham read the following report.

  • Gratchia Makarian was elected Vice Chair of the PC&O Taxi/Ramp Taxi Subcommittee by acclamation.
  • Cheryl Damico stated that when she sends SF Taxi Commission announcements, she is not sure whether the announcements were going to the correct people and whether the announcements were received by the right person and posted appropriately.
  • Charles Rathbone of Luxor explained that he researched the effectiveness of the bumper sticker, such as “How is my driving.”  He reported that a study was conducted by University of Chicago Law School.  It concluded that “How is my driving” bumper sticker reduces accidents ranging from 20% to 50%. 
  • Marc Soto reported the following:
    • Trapeze Software Group completed its Trapeze Operational Review (OR) and submitted an OR report.  Muni and the Broker have been reviewing the OR report. 
    • Mobility Plus has started receiving the new Muni paratransit vehicles purchased from Bus West.  These vehicles are deployed in SF Access program.  MPT will retire the last six 300 series vehicles soon.
    • John King Senior Center’s contract term ended on December 31, 2008. 
    • The debit card equipment use agreements have been signed with Desoto, National and Yellow.  Luxor’s agreement will be signed soon.  The debit card pilot program will start with Yellow, National and Desoto in March.  The pilot program will be for 60 days.  If the contract with Luxor has been signed before the pilot program ends, Luxor will start participating in the pilot program. 
    • Black and White, Town Taxi, Veterans, Arrow and Bay Cab have been identified as the second group of taxi companies to sign their debit card equipment use agreements.  A generic draft agreement has been sent to these companies and a meeting has been scheduled. 
    • The Broker will mass mail the existing client new debit/ID cards and set a target date to issue new riders’ debit card/ID cards for on the spot. 
    • The Broker is creating a pamphlet about how to use debit card.  There will be between 20 to 25 outreach meetings in the community.  Taxi drivers will have a cheat sheets specific to each color scheme. 
    • The debit card advisory group will meet on February 11th. 
    • In Taxi Equipment vendors will exhibit their equipments to taxi companies and answer their questions on February 13, 2009. 

Paratransit Broker Report

Marc Soto provided the following report.

Debit Card Update

The Broker has a target date of March 9th for the soft launch of the debit card pilot. Four taxi companies are expected to participate -   National, DeSoto, Luxor and Yellow.  Luxor and Yellow have the software and equipment in their vehicles but are doing a software modification and training drivers. Marc Soto thanked Yellow for their cooperation and stated that their software contractor has been working very hard. Marc Soto acknowledged Luxor for their cooperation. National and DeSoto need to get hardware, firmware and software installed and the Broker is working with taxi companies and vendors to get this completed in March. The Broker has drafted letters to send to our 100-120 pilot volunteers so that they understand how to load money onto their debit card accounts.

Russell Greene asked how people will know how much money they have on their card. Marc Soto responded that paratransit taxi customers will receive a receipt from the taxi driver showing the balance and additionally there will be a 1-800 number available 24 hours a day.  Gratchia Makarian asked who will be liable for spares. Marc Soto responded that the grant does not include money for spares but the SFMTA has made the commitment that if any money is left over from this grant it could be used for spares.  Marty Smith asked what a cab company will do when they need a spare.  Marc Soto responded that a manual system with forms that looks just like an American Express or Visa will be available. There will also be a 1-800 number the driver or dispatcher can call to get an approval code for the transaction.  Benny Wong asked how the customer will replace the debit card if lost.  Marc Soto responded that the customer can call the Broker’s office or the IVR available 24/7 and the Broker will get an electronic message the next business day and will create a card and mail it out, or the patron can come by the Broker’s office and get their card replaced.  Nelu Zia asked if each of her ten centers will get a card because there is concern when two clients have needs and there is only one card. Marc Soto replied that not all social service centers are “group centers” that can get scrip but those that do get scrip will be provided a solution.  Annette clarified that until the full launch everyone will continue using scrip.

Jeanne Lynch asked if the value of a paratransit rider’s remaining scrip would be transferred to their debit card.  Marc Soto responded that paratransit taxi customers may turn in full books of scrip and value will be transferred to the debit card.  Paratransit taxi customers will be encouraged to use up their old scrip before it is completely phased out.  Jane Bolig asked if a rider doesn’t have enough value on their debit card, can the balance also be paid with a credit card. Annette Williams answered that it depends on each company’s policy but that is likely. Yetta Miller asked if new scrip will be issued after the scrip that expires in June 2009. Marc Soto responded that there will be no scrip issued after the 2010 scrip.  Laurie Graham asked if we are still including tip.  Annette responded that because of the budget problems the tipping question is still open though the program was developed assuming the tip will be included.

Marty Smith asked whether the driver could turn the meter on while he’s loading. Annette said that the debit card does not change taxi policies. Kaye Griffin asked if the debit card project team has worked with the blind community. Annette Williams said that the information will be available in multiple formats and the Broker is planning to conduct outreach to Lighthouse for the Blind on how to use the phone system for real time updates.  Sanchez asked if there would be a replacement charge for lost cards.  Marc Soto stated the first card replacement would be free, and then people will have to pay. Annette Williams said that if a rider loses their card they do not lose value like with scrip.  

Vehicle Procurement and Deployment status

Thirty-five new vans have been purchased for use in the SF Access program and all but five of have been delivered and deployed in MPT’s fleet.  The old “300 series” are being phased out.  Matt Yamashita said there were six still to be phased out by the middle of March and then MPT will only be using the larger vans plus the five new minivans. 

Paratransit Information and Technology Update

The operational review was finished by Trapeze. The Broker, in coordination with the SFMTA, is choosing between two Trapeze software products and then will begin installation, training and deployment of that product. Either of the two Trapeze products (PASS or Novus) will have many more tools for dispatchers including identifying to the dispatcher which routes are running behind schedule so delays can be ameliorated. 

The Broker is in discussion with the SFMTA to postpone or cancel this year’s consumer satisfaction survey because of budgetary constraints. This is one way to reduce expenditures.

The Taxi Commission had its final meeting last night. The responsibilities of the Taxi Commission are being absorbed by the SFMTA.  Marc Soto acknowledged President Gillespie, Vice President Breslin and all the members of this current commission as well as the previous taxi commission and their staff. Annette said that many taxi commission members had been very active with the PCC and helped to bring information about paratransit to these policy-making bodies.  Bruce Oka said that the Taxi commission will be missed but, because of his position on the Board of the SFMTA, the voices of the PCC will still be heard loud and clear. 

Bruce Oka announced that the SFMTA Board meetings are the first and third Tuesday of every month at 2:00 pm in City Hall, Room 400. They are broadcast on TV on Comcast Channel 78 and on the Internet.

Budget Discussion with Sonali Bose

Annette introduced Sonali Bose, Chief Financial Officer for the SFMTA. Annette said that Sonali was invited so that the PCC could get the best information possible about the budget crisis.

Sonali Bose handed out a flyer summarizing a projected budget deficit of about $80.5 million for the 2009-2010 Fiscal Year. Sonali stated that the State of California approved a budget with huge cuts to transit and the impact to San Francisco Muni is $43 million.  Cuts from the City General Fund portion represent another $24 million cut.  Garages, citations and parking meters provide about ¼ of the SFMTA’s funding. $3.8 million less from garages, $6 million loss from parking citations and $3 million loss from parking meters is expected.  Transit pricing has remained below market. The SFMTA is seeing some increases in cable car revenues. The SFMTA has also seen about $6 million decline in advertising.

Sonali Bose reported that the SFMTA is looking at how to balance $80.5 million budget deficit through a combination of cuts and increases. It is anticipated that approximately $40 million can be done internally, by not filling vacancies, cutting supplies and materials to the core. As for the other $40 million, on March 17th SFMTA finance will take a menu of options to the SFMTA Board ranging from increases to Fast Passes and Discount Passes, increases to parking meter revenues, increases to citation revenues, and increasing paratransit fares.  Finance staff will look to increase all revenue sources, and reduce transit service and labor costs. 

Sonali Bose stated that in Fiscal Year 2008, the SFMTA received $20.4 million from various revenue sources to pay for paratransit.  Approximately $9.67 million comes from the Prop K sales tax, $3.8 million comes from the federal government, $1.2 million comes from the BART share, and SFMTA funds $4.3 million. Approximately $700,000 was coming from the State but that was cut.

The SFMTA Board has asked Finance to look at all of the revenues and fares and increase them on a regular basis.  The SFMTA hasn’t increased any paratransit fares since 2006.  Sonali Bose stated that, if there had been a CPI indexing policy in place which raised fares every two years, the $1.65 van fare would be approximately $1.90 now and the $4.00 for one book of taxi scrip would be $4.65 now. This is something SFMTA finance is going to put on the table for the Board at the meeting on March 17th.

Griff Humphrey asked about the Federal stimulus money. Sonali Bose answered that Muni got about $67 million dollars from the Federal stimulus, but unfortunately it was restricted to rehabilitating the system and could not be used to fill an operating deficit.   

Marc Soto commented that the SF Paratransit program has the lowest per trip cost already in terms of delivering paratransit services. One of the reasons for this low per trip cost is the relationship with the taxi industry which provides a large amount of service.  Marc Soto stated to Sonali Bose that, given the $67 million stimulus, SF Paratransit would like to have onboard computers on all the SF Access vehicles. Sonali Bose said that within the SFMTA’s capital budget, there is a $5 billion dollar hole and that the transit system is very expensive to run.

Marc Soto said the SFMTA will be looking at a new Broker contract to start April 1, 2010 and there could be opportunities to economize through private sector/public partnerships. Sonali Bose answered that Debra Johnson is in charge of contracts so that would be on her radar.

Jane Bolig asked if there were union contracts up for negotiation. Sonali Bose answered that the unions didn’t take a pay increase for the fiscal year because of the retirement benefit exchange. Next year they have 2 - 3% raise on the books and there is discussion about whether they will give that up.

Griff Humphrey asked if there would be impacts on regional paratransit services to/from San Francisco. Annette Williams said she had not heard about cuts from any partners. Marc Soto said he hadn’t heard of any cuts but he knew some were looking at stricter enforcement of the 3/4 mile radius.

Shopping Shuttle Update

Annette presented this update. SFMTA staff had a number of good planning meetings in Bayview Hunters Point on the Shopping Shuttle. Staff met yesterday with a number of representatives from different senior and disabled housing sites and is excited about having these community partners working with us.  Next, SFMTA staff will meet with community partners in Visitation Valley.

Public Comment

Benny Wong asked to clarify the Broker parking policy during pick ups and drop offs at ADHC.  Benny Wong said that one police officer said drivers should park diagonally but another officer said that parking diagonally was the same as taking two lanes. Marc Soto responded that the policy is that providers drop off in the far right parking lane. They park on the left side lane because they are trying to be convenient to ADHC staff and providers and they put up cones when doing it.  The ADHC will have to step up and have their staff ready now that we have these police complaints.


Annette Williams announced the Digital TV Transition Assistance Center offered by Self Help for the Elderly. They have a center that will help individuals apply for the converter box.

Jane Bolig announced that her play starts tonight at 2948 16th Street at Capp. There is disabled access on the doors to the right. The show times are at 8:00 PM on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2:00 PM on Sunday.

The next PCC meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at 711 Eddy Street. 


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