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PCC Executive Committee Meeting
May 18
711 Eddy Street, San Francisco

PCC Executive Committee Members Present: Cheryl Damico, PCC Chair; Joseph Flanagan, PCC Vice Chair; Marty Smith, PCC Secretary; Ameur Kallel; Fred Lein; Jacy Cohen; Byron Yan; Jane Redmond; Pam Martinez; Ruach Graffis; Russell Green; Scott Blum; Ursula McGuire; Melecio Torres; Stu Smith; Laurie Graham; Patrick McCollum; Roland Wong; Ruth Lawner; Jeanne Lynch; Claudia Grubler; John Lazar; Kaye Griffin; Harvey Katz

PCC Members and Guests: Kevin Hayes; Troy Barnes; Annie M. Young; Athan Rebelos

PCC Executive Committee Member Excused: Gilda Chico; Olivia Santiago

SF Paratransit staff: Marc Soto; Paul Okunewitch; John Sanderson; Aaron Bonfilio

SFMTA: Kate Toran; Annette Williams

Cheryl Damico, PC&O Chair, called the meeting to order at 10:40 a.m. 

Read and Approve Agenda

Marty Smith, PCC Secretary, read the agenda. The agenda was amended to delete item 5, “5310 Update” and replace it with “Taxi Update.”  The agenda motioned/seconded/passed as amended.

Approve Minutes of March 30 meeting

The minutes were motioned/seconded/passed as presented.

Comments from the Chair

Cheryl Damico announced the MV-I vehicle was out front for PCC members to test out.  This vehicle is manufactured to be wheelchair accessible, and it has been crash tested and approved for production. 

Taxi Update

Annette Williams reported that the SFMTA has been holding a series of taxi town hall meetings to discuss proposed taxi meter rate increases. Cheryl Damico attended one of the town hall meetings to represent the PCC.  The SFMTA Board of Directors met yesterday (5/17) and heard the taxi meter rate increase proposal. SFMTA Taxi Services staff recommended that the drop rate increase from $3.10 to $3.50 and the mileage rate increase from $.45 per 1/5 mile to $.55 per 1/5 mile.  It is estimated that these increases could increase the costs to the SFMTA for the paratransit taxi program approximately $1M - $1.5M.  This potential increase would not have a significantly negative impact overall on the paratransit budget because there have been savings due to the implementation of the paratransit debit card. 

There is also a proposal to charge taxi customers a surcharge for requesting a vehicle through the dispatch service, and if implemented, that would have a significant impact on the paratransit budget, because most paratransit rides are dispatched, not flagged.  The taxi meter rate proposal is scheduled to be discussed further at the SFMTA Board meeting on June 21st.   Also under discussion is the possibility of hiring a consultant to study the meter rate structure in San Francisco.

SFMTA Director Bruce Oka added that the taxi drivers haven’t had a meter rate increase since 2003, although he understands that an increase would impact paratransit riders and the overall paratransit budget.  Bruce stated that the SFMTA needs to look at how the proposed meter rate increases will impact taxi customers.  The average taxi trip is 4.6 to 6.25 miles.  Bruce indicated that PCC members can call him if they have any questions or concerns about this proposal.  He emphasized that the SFMTA Board wants to hear the voice of the PCC, and he urged members to attend the SFMTA Board meetings.

Roland Wong stated that the $35 per trip maximum amount for paratransit taxi trips would need to be increased if the meter rate increased.  Laurie Graham stated that a drop rate increase will make shorter rides more appealing for drivers and if the drop rate doesn’t increase, she thinks more drivers will go out to the airport.

PC&O Group Van Report

Jacy Cohen read the following report:

  1. The PC&O Group Van Committee Meeting was held on April 6.  The agenda and the minutes were approved as read.
  2. Marc Soto and Kate Toran introduced and explained the PCC meeting structure and the intention of the Group Van subcommittee. 
  3. During the Service Quality report the agencies reported that each of the providers have been doing a really great job. Self Help for the Elderly raised some concerns about long ride times and capacity issues, but by and large the providers have been very responsive to any service issues that come up.
  4. During the Service Providers Update Scott Blum of Medsam Transportation reported to the committee about a tragic incident that occurred late February. A passenger who suffered from dementia wandered away from their home after being dropped off following a day program.  The individual was later found deceased. 

    Shereta Allen and Ameur Kallel of Mobility Plus reported to the committee on the recent driver “shift-bid” changes.  Self Help, Centro Latino and Delancey Street also reported that it has been a relatively quiet stretch and that as issues come up, they work with the agencies that they serve.
  5. Discussion of SF Paratransit Policy on Attendants and Escorts: Marc Soto and Paul Okunewitch reviewed the recent incident with the individual that wandered off after being transported to his residence. Marc explained the SF Paratransit policy regarding passengers that may require personal care attendants. Due to the limitations of ADA-paratransit, drivers may only provide up to door-to-door service. For those passengers that may require more supervision and care, e.g. that cannot be left unattended at their drop off destination, or are accustomed to what has been called Hand-to-Hand service, SF Paratransit wants to make clear such limitations.  SF Paratransit recognizes, however, that some passengers who may fall into this class of riders, may from time to time arrive at their destination without anyone to receive them. By adopting and following a standard protocol, the broker’s office and the service providers will work to mitigate unsafe circumstances such as this and work with the group agencies to identify those riders to ensure their safety and well-being. 
  6. Revisions to Memorandum of Understanding: The committee, providers and agencies reviewed the Draft MOU and provided input regarding the proposed changes and possible revisions for clarification. After review and discussion closed, the broker’s office requested final comments be submitted by April 18. 
  7. The next meeting will be on July 13 at the broker’s office.    

PC&O SF Taxi/RampTaxi Report

Marty Smith read the following report:

  1. The PC&O Taxi/Ramp Taxi Subcommittee meeting was held on Wednesday, May 4 at the broker’s office. The agenda was amended to include a report from the SFMTA following comments from the Chair.
  2. During the Comments from the Chair, Vice Chair Martin Smith gave an update on Luxor Cab’s Advance Reservation Pilot Program. Patrons may pre-arrange ramp taxi service by calling Luxor Cab at (415) 401-1414 on Saturdays between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  3. During the SFMTA Report, Kate Toran talked about paratransit issues that have come up regarding the SFMTA’s ongoing bike lane development. Ms. Toran also explained the new ramp taxi incentive and enforcement plans.
  4. During the Comments from Taxi/Ramp Taxi Drivers and Companies, there was a general consensus that gasoline prices are beginning to have serious impacts in the taxicab industry. There was a discussion about the limited options taxicab operators have when shopping for Hybrid or CNG vehicles.
  5. During the Broker’s Report, John Sanderson reported that only 44 of the 1500 SF cabs did not have working ITE, including 22 Fog City Cabs which need their ITE re-programmed.
    Paul Okunewitch reported on SF Paratransit’s ongoing debit card transaction review process and on recent program enforcement efforts.
    Mr. Okunewitch also gave an update on the van service RFP process. The RFP process is expected to conclude by the end of May and the new service contracts are expected to be in operation by the end of August 2011.
  6. The next PC&O Taxi/Ramp Taxi Subcommittee meeting will be held on August 3 at the Broker’s office.

After the report was presented, John Lazar encouraged riders to use Luxor’s new phone open Saturdays to allow wheelchair users to make ramp taxi reservations for the entire week, 415-401-1414. 

Athan Rebolos stated that DeSoto has a new paratransit phone hotline, 415-970-1303. 

Ruth Lawner stated that often when she calls Yellow, Luxor or DeSoto, the phone rings and rings but is not answered.  Ruth added that she had an advance reservation with Yellow for a ramp taxi pick-up after a chemotherapy treatment, but she had to wait an hour before a ramp taxi driver showed up, and she was feeling sick after her treatment.  She’s started trying the smaller cab companies but often the drivers don’t know how to use the paratransit debit card.

Athan responded that there needs to be more cabs on the street because the dispatch services get more orders than they have vehicles to service.  DeSoto’s dedicated paratransit hotline is a priority line and seems to be working better, and a caller may not get a cab faster, but the call will be taken faster and therefore dispatched sooner.  Cheryl Damico stated that she tried DeSoto’s dedicated paratransit phone line, and it was picked up quickly, but after that it was the same wait time.  Athan stated that the radio staff was likely trying to coax a ramp driver to pick up the order. He stated that they’ve had a case where a ramp taxi driver was three blocks away from a pick-up request location and the driver refused to accept the call.  Cab companies can’t force the ramp drivers to service ramp taxi requests.  Athan added that he needs help from the SFMTA; he wants the SFMTA to enforce the program rules. 

Kate Toran stated that the SFMTA is in the process of implementing ramp taxi incentives, which have been discussed for a number of years, to reward ramp taxi drivers for good service to wheelchair users.  In addition to incentives, the SFMTA is also monitoring ramp taxi pick-ups and citing drivers for severe underperformance.  A new enforcement and progressive discipline process has been implemented in the ramp taxi program.  Kate added that with the implementation of both incentives and strict enforcement, ramp taxi service to wheelchair users should improve.

John Lazar stated that the taxi supply and demand is out of balance.  Taxi companies can’t service the demand and John added that 500 more cabs are needed to service the demand.  Pam Martinez agreed with Athan and John.

Stu Smith stated that the PCC has been proactive in the past on issues like this, and he made a motion that the PCC write a letter the Mayor, the Board of Supervisors and the SFMTA to request more taxis that should go to companies can show justification and demonstrate that they have more demand for service than supply of taxis.  Marty Smith seconded the motion.  Patrick McCollum stated that centralized dispatch would work to distribute the calls over the entire fleet. 

Byron Yan stated that the letter should specify more ramp taxis.  Athan responded that in his opinion there are enough ramp taxis but the problem is that many of the ramps are at companies that don’t service the community.  Athan added that there is a need for more non-ramp medallions and the ramp medallions that are at companies that don’t provide service to the disabled community should move to the companies that do provide such service.  Ruach Graffis stated that she thinks there should be centralized dispatch for the ramp taxis, and that new dispatching mechanisms, such as Cabulous, may be put in place very soon.  John Lazar stated that Cabulous relies on handheld devices which are not allowed while driving according to California Code.  John stated that there needs to be computerized dispatch and not voice dispatch.

Cheryl Damico closed discussion and the group voted 13 in favor to 3 opposing to approve the motion.  There were no abstentions.  

Paratransit Broker Report

Marc Soto provided the following report:

  1. Staff Changes: Jon Fichera has moved on to other endeavors and will be missed.  Aaron Bonfilio will be leaving SF Paratransit in June and going to work for Veolia in Sonoma County.  John Sanderson will replace Aaron as the Van Field Monitor, and a new Taxi Field Monitor will be hired. 
  2. Debit Card: All In-Taxi Equipment (ITE) devices have been delivered and now the companies are just wrapping up the final installations.
  3. Group Van: As reported earlier, the Group Van Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been revised and the SF Paratransit staff is setting up another face-to-face meeting to discuss the changes and answer questions that have come up regarding the implementation of new passenger coding requirements.
  4. Shop-a-Round: The brochure has been updated to reflect the new citywide scope of the service and expanded to add information about the Shop-a-Round Taxi adjunct service, which is in the process of being developed.
  5.  Van Procurement: One hybrid cutaway van is being procured by SFMTA for use in the paratransit program as a test vehicle.  Since the hybrid van technology is fairly new, SFMTA will test operation and maintenance aspects for at least a year. A procurement process to replace the 600 series, 20 cutaway vans, that MPT runs in the SF Access service, will begin in the fall.
  6. Van Service Provider Procurement: The van provider procurement is still in process.  Two SF Access proposals were received and reviewed by the selection committee and oral interviews were held.  Multiple proposals were received for group van service.  The technical evaluation is complete and now the SF Paratransit staff is in the process of reviewing and scoring the cost proposals.
  7. SF Paratransit Website: The SF Paratransit website will be revamped within 60-90 days to be more user-friendly and visually attractive.

Bike Lane/Paratransit Issues Update

Kate Toran reported that there has been some progress made in the bike/paratransit planning effort.  A bumper sticker for paratransit vans and taxis indicating that the vehicle is authorized to be in the bike lane while loading/unloading passengers has been designed and reviewed by staff and PCC members.  A decal has also been designed and reviewed for the rear window of a taxi, cautioning passengers to look for cyclists when exiting the vehicle.  (Kate passed out copies of both the bumper sticker and the decal).  A reading notice has been issued to parking control officers instructing them not to cite paratransit vans and taxis actively loading/unloading in bike lanes.  A memo to paratransit van providers and taxi companies is being drafted that will include instructions for affixing the bumper stickers and training materials for drivers on how to properly interface with the bike lanes, including the separated bike lanes on Market Street. 

Kate added that she sent out information via email and handed out a flyer about public participation in the Better Market Street planning process.

Neal Patel from the San Francisco Bike Coalition stated that they are doing their part to train cyclists, and that they educate and train over 1,000 cyclists annually.  The Bike Coalition is working toward a solution for safe use of the bike lanes. 

Stu Smith stated that he had an encounter with three cyclists riding parallel and they yelled at him and kicked his car.  He added that bikes should be licensed.  Neal responded that the SFMTA has researched the bike licensing concept and issued a report.


Kate Toran announced that the Jewel McGinnis Appreciation Luncheon will be coming up in June and will likely be held in lieu of the next PCC Executive Committee meeting on June 22nd. 

Kate also announced that Ramp Taxi Medallion applicant interviews will be held next Tuesday (5/24) at the SF Paratransit office at 10:30.

Jacy Cohen thanked Matt West from SFMTA for sending the elevator notices.

Roland Wong stated that BART has elevator alert notices that he has downloaded to his phone and he asked if Muni could do that as well.  Annette responded that nextMuni is on-line and that MTA would look into the possibilities of notices.  Ruach Graffis stated that it would be helpful to have elevator announcements as part of the morning traffic reports.

The next PCC meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 10,10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 711 Eddy Street

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