February 23, 2017 at 9:00 AM – Norwalk Transit District
Norwalk Transit District Commissioners:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Full-Time Procurement and Grant Administration Position
Ms. Morton reported that the search for a project consultant to fill the role of Procurement and Grant Administration was unsuccessful. Ms. Morton advised that she would like to proceed with the filling the position on a regular full-time basis. It would remain the intent to pay for the position primarily through capital grants. The Commissioners were in favor the recommendation and provided the approval to proceed. A revised organization chart explaining changes to the structure and the reporting relationship will be provided at the next meeting for formal approval.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The meeting adjourned at 10:40 am.
Kimberlee A. Morton
Kimberlee A Morton, CEO
Norwalk Transit District