February 23, 2017 Meeting

Norwalk Transit District Commissioners' Meeting

February 23, 2017 at 9:00 a.m.

AGENDA

 

Ø  Public Comment

Ø  Approval of minutes of January 26, 2017

Ø  Finance Report

·         December 2016 Financial Report

·         Audit Presentation, Seward and Monde, CPA

Ø  Transit Operations Report

·         January 2016 Ridership

·         Performance Metrics

Ø  Procurement

·         Paratransit Vehicle RFP

·         Paratransit Service RFP

·         Facility Analysis

Ø  Maintenance and Facilities Update

Ø  HR Update

Ø  Marketing and Planning Update

Ø  State Update

Ø  Restructuring Plan

Ø  CEO Update

·         Union Negotiations

·         5310 Grant Program

·         Legislative Initiatives

Ø  Any Other Business Properly Brought before the Board

Ø  Next Meeting March 24, 2017 and future meeting times

Ø  Adjournment

 

 Meeting Minutes

 

Attending

Norwalk Transit District Commissioners:

Andrew Glickson

Sheldon Miller

Norwalk Transit District Staff: 

Kimberlee Morton, CEO

Britt Liotta, Chief Operating Officer

Lynette Brayboy, Manager of Human Resources

Steven Burka, CFAO

Hal Alvord, Director of Maintenance and Facilities

The meeting was called to order at 9:05 AM and a quorum was determined to be present. 

Public Comment

Members of the public who wished to address the Commissioners were asked to do so.  There were none. 

Approval of Minutes of January 26, 2017

The minutes of the January 26, 2017 meeting of the Commissioners were unanimously approved as presented. 

Finance Report

January 2017 Finance Report

Mr. Burka presented January 2017 financial results. He noted the year-to-date deficit is $165K, down from December due to adjustments that moved expenses into the prior year, and the recording of funds due from the City of Stamford for services performed from the beginning of the fiscal year. Coastal Link’s and Stamford ADA services are running a deficit and the State is aware of the need to provide additional funds, but as yet has not issued additional funding. Cash flow remains tight as the deficits translate into additional borrowing; the interest rate on the line-of-credit has increased. Fare revenue was up $17K over December, $21K over November, as fare increases took effect. Farebox recovery crept up to 16.2% from 15.9% through December.

Mr. Burka reported on the successful transition of our deferred compensation plan to Empower Retirement. In the near future, we will be transitioning the union profit sharing retirement plan as well.

Audit Presentation

Auditor Partalas presented the final audit report.  No findings were noted.

Transit Operations Report

January 2017 Ridership

Monthly ridership – Mr. Liotta reported that January 2017 was slightly lower than January 2016, but off by 20,000 compared to the last few months.  Mr. Liotta commented that part of this was attributed to the changing of the passes, and doing away with the transfers.  In September 2016, the transfer policy was changed in order to tighten controls of ridership abuse.  Mr. Liotta felt this definitely contributed to the lower ridership.

Performance Metrics

Mr. Liotta commented that going forward; it would be beneficial to start utilizing the reporting structure that the state looks for, which tracks passengers per revenue hour and per revenue mile. Mr. Liotta commented that the State classifies the transportation into two groups – Local, which is the fixed routes, and express, which are the shuttle routes.  Mr. Liotta noted that looking at the report, the lowest producing routes, the #1, #2, #5/6, #12, and the 7 Link, all recently had service changes or eliminations, which will help to boost the metrics.  Mr. Liotta also noted that the Greenwich shuttle went through an extensive cut which will also help to improve the numbers.  The Westport shuttles, however, were not adjusted based upon decisions by the Westport Directors, and remain the lowest producing express routes.

Procurement

Paratransit Vehicle RFP

The RFP was issued in late January.  A pre-proposal meeting was held last week; attended by Shepard Brothers (Coach & Equipment Mfg) and Alliance Bus Group (Elkhart).  We have not heard anything from Matthews Buses (Goshen, Eldorado), although they have been sent everything.  There have been 3 addenda to date.  Proposals are due March 14, 2017.  This procurement will replace our entire paratransit fleet in a procurement phased over 4 years (to flatten and stabilize maintenance budgets).  Diesel engines are no longer available in these vehicles so we will have a short term challenge in fueling and a longer term challenge in building gasoline storage and fueling facility on the property (Wendel indicates it can be done within code).

Paratransit Service RFP

RFP will be issued March 1, 2017.  Proposals are due April 14, 2017.  The proposal requires contractors to provide vehicles for the District’s exclusive use.  All vehicles will be part of a single pool and batch scheduled for maximum efficiency.

Facility Analysis

We have received Wendel’s first cut at repairs and improvements needed in our facility, along with the costs ($5.5 million); based on my review of each item with Wendel, I believe their cost estimates are too low and I have asked them to revisit the matter.  They have also developed two options for expanding on our current property (given that there is almost no place else to go in Norwalk) and have provided their costs for Option 2 (the larger expansion option) - $9.1 million.  This figure does not include the cost of canopies over the space between the shop and garage and on the east end of the parking garage ($2.3 million) or the cost of a 3-level parking structure over the current employee parking lot ($6.4 million).  We recently received the preliminary energy analysis but have not yet had the chance to review.  Wendel will provide the Commissioners a presentation at their March meeting.

Maintenance and Facilities Update

We have taken back two 30’ shuttle vehicles from TAG as a result of the recent service reduction.  They are now properly configured to be integrated into our shuttle schedule.  We have disposed of bus 329 – a former Coastal Link vehicle; it was returned to the state from whom it had been leased.  We continue to reorganize the shop to gain additional efficiencies.

HR Update

Our current money counter decided to reduce the number of days per week to three instead of five days a week.  We are in the process of hiring an additional part-timer to cover the now open days left vacant.  Having three part-timers instead of two provides us with a back-up to cover vacation and sick absences. 

 Our part-time data input clerk resigned on February 2nd.  The role is currently filled with a temp working 16 hours per week as we proceed with the formal interview process.

 We’re in the hiring process to bring on five part-time ADA Drivers.  A training class will start on Monday, March 6th for six weeks.

 Marketing and Planning Update

Utilized AVAIL’s passenger information tools and the website to announce weather advisories and Presidents Day holiday service.

Full adoption of new website. Former website archived and removed from public web access. 

Promotion of new bus service to Wilton Center on weekdays and to Walmart on the Saturdays including web notices, flier distribution and press release in the Norwalk Hour.

Outlined and reviewed with executive staff planning and marketing priorities.  Major priority includes preparation of the Public Participation Process for next round of service and fare changes.

Successful completion of phase one “Backend efforts” of marketing plan for adopting AVAIL’s passenger information tools.  Engaging second phase “Agency Integration” to build competency amongst staff in utilizing these tools.

Participated in the Norwalk Community College new student orientation.

Multi-day passes now available for sale at two Stop and Shop locations in Norwalk.

State Update.

Ms. Morton reported that given the difficult budget year, the proposed Governors’ transportation budget is good.  How it actually filters down to the Districts’ is unknown.  We will submit a budget with a 3% increase for the FY 2018.

Restructuring Plan

Mr. Liotta shared his assessment of the ADA program including several problems including incorrect ticket collection and validation, trip coding, and underutilization of the scheduling software.  This area of operations is in need of specific direction and oversight on a day-to-day basis.  Additionally someone needs to take ownership of the scheduling software to ensure we are realizing maximum efficiency.   This position will also assist in making reservations at times of high volume.  This will be very important now that the District will assume the scheduling of all purchased transportation provided vehicles in the new Paratransit Service proposal recently released.  .  It is the recommendation of the executive team to eliminate the Paratransit Coordinator position and roll those duties into a new position titled Paratransit Manager to ensure that optimal efficiency is realized. 

CEO Update

Ms. Morton reported:

Ø  labor negotiations was ongoing;

Ø  5310 Grant Program

Ø  Ongoing legislative initiatives related to the FY 2018 operating budget

Any Other Business Properly Brought before the Board

No further business was brought before the Board.

Next Meeting March 24, 2017 and future meeting times

Ms. Morton explained that there was recent inquiry regarding the time of the Commissioner meetings and if it was possible to conduct some of the meetings in the evening.  It was decided that on replacement of Commissioner Miller future meeting times would be discussed. 

The next regularly scheduled meeting is March 24, 2017 and will be held at the offices of the Norwalk Transit District at 9:00 a.m. 

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 10:40 am. 

January 26, 2017 Meeting

Norwalk Transit District Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes

January 26, 2017 at 9:00 AM – Norwalk Transit District

 

Attending

Norwalk Transit District Commissioners:

Andrew Glickson

Sheldon Miller

Norwalk Transit District Staff: 

Kimberlee Morton, CEO

Britt Liotta, Chief Operating Officer

Lynette Brayboy, Manager of Human Resources

Steven Burka, CFAO

 

The meeting was called to order at 9:06 AM and a quorum was determined to be present. 

Public Comment

Members of the public who wished to address the Commissioners were asked to do so.  There were none. 

Approval of Minutes of December 15, 2016

The minutes of the December 15, 2016 meeting of the Commissioners were unanimously approved as presented. 

December 2016 Ridership Report

Mr. Liotta reviewed in detail the Operations Report highlighting the continuing downward trend in fixed-route and shuttle services.  Overall ridership is still down versus last year month to month and year to date.  Extremely low ridership was noted about the 7 link bus, to which Ms. Morton commented it may be on the block for removal if more reductions are mandated. 

Transit Operations Report

Fare changes update – Mr. Liotta commented that the fare changes went out with little to no issues on the changes.  He further stated that during the transition, any passenger that was short fare during the first couple of days were allowed to ride and notified of the fare changes

Route changes update – Mr. Liotta stated that the run changes are all set for January 29th – some minor software issues have occurred, but all is set to go forward with the changes on January 29th.

Commissioner Glickson recommended that the District’s message should try to focus on the positives of any changes whenever possible. 

Additional Revenue for Coastal Link buses – Mr. Liotta noted that Trans Advertising contacted him about doing two bus wraps (sponsored by The University of Connecticut) for a nine month period for $17,000 in revenue.  Mr. Burka noted that quick math shows the revenue to be at only 1 ½ times what the previous wrap revenue brought in.  Mr. Liotta stated he would be contacting them for paperwork so it can be reviewed. 

Purchased Transportation Contract Renewals

Mr. Liotta noted that the rates that were frozen for the first half of the FY 2016 for the purchased vendors were all approved for the second half of the FY.  The increase total is estimated at $7,700 for the six months, and it was already budgeted for increase, so these will not be over budget

1.    CES and People to Places held at 16 rates for final 6 months

2.    Elder House, Norwalk Senior Center, Star and TAG took modest increases

3.    See attached for dollar amount change for final 6 months

Commissioners’ Miller and Glickson unanimously approved the presented contract changes. 

December 2016 Financial Report

Through December 2016, the district is running a deficit for the 2017 fiscal year of $203K.  Fare revenue and assistances totaled $7.3M while expenses totaled $7.5M. The budget for the same time period projected a shortfall of $302K. Key metrics indicate that fare collection is down 3.6% compared to budget while expenses have decreased primarily in vehicle parts and supplies due to good inventory management and the replacement of 12 old buses. Purchased transportation costs related to paratransit services are lower than budgeted because no rate increase was accepted for the first half of the year.

Pension Plan Update

The District is on schedule to transition our pension plan to Empower Retirement on Feb 3, 2016. We held a “Pension Plan Day” where representatives of Empower met with employees individually to discuss retirement issues and handed out useful investment information. Communication from management to our employees has been frequent and effective.

Audit Update

Our FY 2016 audit is complete with no major findings. The audit report and final financial results will be presented to the commissioners at the next meeting.

Benefit Changes

As of the start of January, the District has a new healthcare provider under the CT Partnership Plan that has saved the District and its employees substantial money. Mr. Burka presented his assessment of the other insurances of Short Term Disability, Long Term Disability, Accidental Death & Dismemberment, and Life Insurance. Changes were made that better aligned employee classifications to reasonable individual insurance benefits. The net change to premiums will save the District a few hundred dollars. 

Marketing and Planning Update

 

Mr. Liotta gave the Planning and Marketing Update in the absence of Stephanie Scavelli – Mr Liotta noted that The National Transit Database FY 2016 Annual Report was resubmitted to FTA on January 16, 2017 with additional supplemental material on passenger mile sampling submitted on January 23, 2017. 

 

Mr. Liotta then commented that in late December the current website crashed, and was redeveloped with an inexpensive user friendly, completed in-house and is now hosted on a mobile-friendly platform.  Mr. Liotta commented that the the MyStop mobile app, website and trip planner are now live.  On-going review by supervisor team to ensure accurate information is disseminated to the public regarding real-time bus information.  Mr. Liotta cited some facts on website usage for the month of January:

a.    2,883 unique visitors

b.    4,714 unique visits (multiple pages may be viewed during each visit)

c.    39% of visitors view the site via desktop

d.    61% viewed the site via mobile device.    

 

Maintenance and Facilities Update

In the absence of Mr. Alvord the report was tabled. 

FTA FY 2017 Annual Certifiantion and Asurnaces and Designation to Bind the District

Ms. Morton explained that before FTA may award federal assistance for public transportation in the form of a federal grant certain pre-award Certifications and Assurances are required.  Ms. Morton provided the Commissioners with a copy of the FY 2017 annual certifications to be executed by our legal counsel.  This document delineates the responsibilities of the District.  She advised that the Board must further authorize a representative to select and sign its Certifications and Assurances and bind the NTD’s compliance.  Commissioner Miller made a motion to authorize CEO, Kimberlee A. Morton, as NTD’s authorized representative to select and sign all certifications and assurances that NTD must provide to support each application it submits to FTA for federal assistance during federal fiscal year (FY) 2016.  The motion was seconded by Commissioner Glickson and passed unanimously.

State Update

Ms. Morton reported the following items. 

Ø  Receipt of contract documents (TOD’s) from CTDOT covering past due funds for deficits related to the operation of the Stamford ADA; 

Ø  Issuance of CTDOT Performance Guidelines;

Ø  Upcoming meeting with several state and local legislators regarding future funding; and

Ø  Statewide Bus Study.

CEO Update

Ms. Morton deferred to Ms. Brayboy for the Human Resources update. 

Ø  The open enrollment and transition to UHC Oxford went well.  A total of 81 employees enrolled in the new plan.

Ø  Visiting options for a contract Procurement Specialist to assist with Request for Proposals (RFP) for approximately four months.  This would be charged directly to the capital grant and would have no impact on our operating budget. 

Ø  Three drivers recently resigned.  Three drivers will transition from full-time to part-time.  Two drivers will transition from Wheels to ADA.

Ms. Morton reported:

Ø  labor negotiations was ongoing;

Ø  participation at the WestCOG Legislative Breakfast; and

Ø  Ms. Carroll returning on an as needed consultant basis to assist with large projects.

Any Other Business Properly Brought before the Board

No further business was brought before the Board.

Next Meeting February 23, 2017

The next regularly scheduled meeting is January 26, 2017 and will be held at the offices of the Norwalk Transit District at 9:00 a.m. 

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 10:30 am.