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PCC Executive Committee Meeting
May 20, 2009
711 Eddy Street, San Francisco

PCC Executive Committee Members Present: Cheryl Damico, Chair; Matthew Yamashita; Genya Ehrlich; Griff Humphrey; Ruth Lawner; Laurie Graham; Kaye Griffin; Yetta Miller; Russell Green; Gratchia Makarian; Pam Martinez; Abby Lamb; Gilda Chico; Sandra Fancher; Byron Yan; Ruach Graffis; Erma Brim; Stu Smith; Scott Blum; Iona Lawhorn

PCC Members and Guests: Jeanne Lynch; Roland Wong, MAAC Member; Martin Smith, Luxor Cab; Troy Barnes, MPT; Hansu Kim, SF Taxi Commission

PCC Executive Committee Member Excused: Dee Ann Hendrix, Silas Telfor, Olivia Santiago, Claudia Grubler, Jacy Cohen, Benny Wong, Joseph Flanagan, Melecio Torres, Ruach Graffis

Paratransit Broker: Marc Soto; Kevin McNay; Aaron Bonfilio

Muni: Kate Toran; Jeffrey Banks; Christiane Hayashi

Read and Approve Agenda

Cheryl Damico called the meeting to order at 10:40 am.  Pam Martinez read the agenda. 

Roland Wong asked to add item to agenda regarding planned Muni service cuts to 89 Laguna Honda Shuttle.

The agenda was motioned/seconded/passed (M/S/P) as amended with the item Route 89 service cut added to agenda.

Approve minutes of April 8, 2009 meeting

The minutes were M/S/P as presented.

Comment from the Chair

Debit Cards are out. 

SFMTA Budget Update

Kate Toran stated that the Budget and Finance Committee of the Board of Supervisors voted to continue the SFMTA budget it until next Wednesday (May 27).

Marc Soto stated that paratransit fares are scheduled to increase on July 1st.  Kate Toran said that once the budget is passed,  public information regarding paratransit fares will be sent to all paratransit customers. 

Jeanne Lynch asked what the amount that fares would be increased.  Marc Soto responded that paratransit van fares are proposed to increase from $1.65 to $2.00 per trip, and taxi scrip is proposed to increase from $4.00 to $5.00 per book.  Jeanne Lynch stated that Social Security would not provide a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for the next year.  

Route 89 Laguna Honda Shuttle

Roland Wong expressed concern about proposed Muni service cuts to 89 Laguna Honda.  He suggested that one possible solution would be for the 36 Teresita circle through the Laguna Honda campus as the 89 currently does. He did not think the route change would significantly alter demands on the 36 Teresita nor add significant additional costs for Muni.  Roland stated that he was distributing his advocacy letter to over 160 people including the Mayor’s Office on Disability (MOD), the Board of Supervisors, the SFMTA Board, PCC, Muni Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC), Laguna Honda Hospital, the Human Service Agency, Senior Action Network and IHSS public authority.

Motion for the PCC to support service to Laguna Honda was motioned/seconded/passed M/S/P as presented.  Kate Toran said that the PCC would write a letter to the Board of supervisors from Chair Cheryl Damico and copy the letter to the SFMTA Board. 

Jeanne Lynch asked if the Mayor’s Office on Disability (MOD) had responded to proposed increases in Muni fares.  Stu Smith mentioned that representatives from MOD had previously attended PCC meetings on a regular basis but were not currently.  

Report from the May 6, 2009 PC&O Taxi Ramp Taxi Subcommittee

Laurie Graham read the following report:

  • Under the current SF Taxi Rules, ramp taxi medallion applicants are required to pick up 100 wheelchair riders within 6 months to qualify.  A driver, who is working in a smaller taxi company, might not have an opportunity to comply with this rule.  It was suggested to extend the 6 months period to one year.  It was also discussed that if the period is extended to one year, it would negatively affect the ramp taxi service. 
  • Chris Hayashi stated that she would recommend to the SFMTA Board to change the ramp taxi medallion requirement to 156 wheelchair pickups in 1 year period. 
  • Marc Soto reported the following:
    • Debit Card Update: 107 riders, and Yellow Cab, Desoto Cab and National Cab companies are currently participating in the debit card pilot program.  There have been minimal problems within the pilot program.  Luxor Cab has been modified its firmware and software to accept the paratransit debit card.  After the changes are tested, Luxor will join the pilot program.  The Broker is planning a massive outreach to promote the debit card in the coming months.  The Broker will mass mail the existing client ID cards and set a target date to issue new riders’ ID cards for on the spot.
    • 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 
    • Emergency Preparation Procurement – An RFP was issued to select a firm to design an Emergency plan for the SF paratransit.  Interested firms submitted their bids.  The process is moving ahead.  The Broker will give an update once a firm is selected.  
  • The meeting was adjourned at 12 noon to review the prototype accessible ramp minivan, the MV-1, which was on display in front of the City hall.

Jeanne Lynch stated that when she entered the MV-1 prototype,  she hit her head. Marc Soto stated that this vehicle is built accessible from the ground up whereas the other vehicles were modified after being manufactured, and they had problems with cracked frames.  Marty Smith stated that the MV-1 is built on a pick up truck frame, which is more durable than a standard minivan frame. He stated that the CNG tanks will be sufficient to run all day, and the electric prototypes will be coming out.

Laurie Graham stated that the ramp will come out from beneath the floor and extend 6 feet , and you may be able to bridge the distance from car to curb. Laurie said everyone will like the vehicles but there may be a problem getting body parts.  Marty stated that the MV-1 will have a parts supply warehouse and a garage in SF.  Laurie Graham stated that she drove a rear entry Toyota Sienna last week and thought the ride was amazing.

Paratransit Broker Report

Marc Soto provided the following report.

Debit Card Update

The debit card pilot is underway and currently has 120 consumers participating. The Broker has been waiting until Luxor’s In Taxi Equipment (ITE) is modified to accept the paratransit debit card before adding 60 to 70 people to the pilot.  Luxor firmware modifications are complete but there have been some issues with the receipts being too long. National and DeSoto have been operating mostly flawlessly.   Yellow, as the largest company, has different complexities.  Yellow is transitioning from DDS ITE to Wireless Edge and are working to train 1,700 drivers.  The Broker has been working with Yellow to resolve issues as they have come up.  Yellow is  expected to have all the new Wireless Edge ITE’s full operational on July 15th. 

The pilot program is yielding some useful information and the he Broker has done outreach to customers who have used (or tried to use) the debit card inappropriately, such as to San Francisco Airport. The Broker has also signed ITE use agreements with nearly all of the other taxi companies.

Ruach Graffis stated that she had tried to use the system five times and only had success once.  One time the debit card machine declined the card, another time the taxi driver didn’t know to hit save and that’s how it seems to work. Jeanne Lynch stated that she had had a problem with Broker staff, although she understands that the debit card is new and people had to adapt.  Gratchia Makarian asked if there would be another meeting with Wireless Edge.  Marc said there would be a meeting tomorrow. 

Iowa Lawhorn stated that it’s getting better with the debit card but she has difficulty with signing. 

Marty said there had been a problem with people using credit card at the airport.  He asked if the taxi debit cards were blocked at the airport. Marc responded that debit cards cannot be used outside of the Muni service area, and since the airport is outside of the area, they will not work to or from the airport.  But the debit card program rules should have no effect on a taxi company’s credit card functionality.. Marty said Luxor cab is ready to go with 85% of drivers trained.  Cheryl Damico stated that she had received complaints about the debit card because some paratransit customers just don’t like it.  Marc said that drivers were saying they like the card and he thought they were going through growing pains.

Marc discussed the scheduled for debit card implementation.  The full out of the debit card won’t happen until after July 15th after Yellow is ready. All certified riders will receive a brochure in the mail explaining the debit card.  Then a letter with the debit card will be sent.  After the card arrives, people will no longer be able to purchase scrip.  The Broker has started outreach to the community including Lighthouse for the Blind, the ADHC network and held meetings in English, Russian and Chinese yesterday. They are trying to reach out to congregate living facilities.

Gilda Chico asked if the purchase date would change with the debit card.  Marc answered that the purchase date would remain the same as with scrip purchase.  

Paratransit Information and Technology Update

The Broker gave Notice-to-Proceed to Trapeze software group to begin transitioning from the existing Mobility Master scrip tracking to the Trapeze PASS version 8. Trapeze will be on site tomorrow to do the install of the software on the Broker’s servers at 365 Main Street.  Next week Trapeze will begin training the Broker’s certification staff on using certification features of the software.  

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.

Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan

The Broker received four proposals to modify the existing emergency preparedness and response plans so that they are line with requirements of the US DOT and FTA for paratransit.  The selection committee met and reviewed the solicitation and the responses and narrowed down to two firms those which would be best qualified.  The selection committee met a second time to interview and re-score the proposals.  Now reference checks are being made and the committee will review samples of each firm’s products.  The committee will make a recommendation on how to proceed.   

Marc Soto stated that he attended the APTA conference in Seattle.  He met with transit agencies and advocacy groups including Easter Seals and discussed at length Travel Training as an important approach to the rising population of elderly and people with disabilities as to helping people use fixed route transit services efficiently.

Roland Wong stated he does peer mentoring with In-Home Supportive Services/Public Authority. He helps clients at Laguna Honda who are unfamiliar with the neighborhood and is willing to work with the Broker on travel training. 

Public Comment

Hansu Kim stated that paratransit ramp taxi was not being utilized efficiently because of a lack of driver incentives. Hansu recommended the creation of a real incentive program of $5.00 per wheelchair pick up, which would encourage drivers to fulfill the orders. Marc Soto responded that opportunities for an incentive program are good for paratransit. 

Gratchia Makarian stated that they should monitor ramp taxi drivers.

Marty Smith stated there should be a “starter” at the airport.

Byron Yan stated that the fare increases were not fair to people with disabilities and seniors.


Jeffrey Banks stated that Susan Mizner at Mayor’s Office on Disability wanted to educate people about using 311 to call in curb ramp complaints.  He asked how many people were already using 311 to make curb ramp complaints and three councilors raised their hands.  

The next PCC meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 711 Eddy Street. 

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