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Union Station

Hartford Connecticut
February 5, 2015

Stephen F. Mitchell, Chairman

At 7:08 p.m., a quorum determined to be present; Mr. Mitchell called the Regular Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Greater Hartford Transit District (the "District") to order in the new Conference Room of the District at One Union Place, Hartford, Connecticut. The following Directors were present: Joan Gamble, Bloomfield; Peter J. Bonzani and Marilyn Pet, East Hartford; Stephen F. Mitchell, Enfield; Jennifer Cassidy, Hartford; James McCavanagh, Manchester; John M. Kelly, (arrived at 7:35 pm) Newington; Gary S. Pitcock, South Windsor; A. David Giordano, West Hartford; Brendan T. Flynn, Wethersfield; and Ricardo Quintero, Windsor. District staff present were Vicki L. Shotland, Executive Director; Nhan Vo-Le, Director of Fiscal and Administrative Services; Sandy Fry, Grants and Procurement Program Coordinator, and Valerie Ellis, ADA Paratransit Eligibility Coordinator.

The Chairman asked if there was any member of the public who wished to address the board. There were none.  Mr. McCavanagh then moved adoption of the December 11, 2014 meeting minutes, which was seconded by Ms. Gamble, and approved by a vote of 20.31 yea, 0.00 nay and 0.00 abstentions.

Mr. Mitchell then asked for presentation of the monthly financial report. Ms. Vo-Le stated the following:

The Paratransit program yields a favorable variance of $78,000 in excess of revenues over expenses primarily as a result of favorable fuel and ADA service expenses, which is partially offset by unfavorable ADA program revenue.  Fuel expense is favorable due to actual fuel prices are lower than expected.  ADA service expense is also favorable due to lower actual operated hours (128,750 operated hours were budgeted vs. 125,800 actual hours operated).   ADA program revenue is unfavorable mainly due to unanticipated lower contract amount approved.

The General Fund actual expenses align closely with its budget.  As of the end of December 2014, the General Fund produces a favorable variance of $4,000 in excess of revenues over expenses.  The budget line item for interest income has a favorable variance of $2,600  as a result of the return on the $300,000 long-term investment that yields approximately 1.2% interest.

The Spruce Street Parking Lot generates a favorable variance of $42,000 through the end of December 2014.  Both actual daily and monthly parking revenues increased by nearly $10,000.  Overall, expenses are favorable:  actual maintenance and security services are $32,000 lower than budget primarily due to less snow removal activities than expected. 

The Union Station – Public yields an unfavorable variance of $47,000 primarily due to higher budgeted rental income, federal share, and property acquisition than actual plus higher actual wages and professional services as compared to budget.

The Union Station – Private shows a favorable of $98,000.  At the end of the fiscal year, Finance will reconcile the activities for the Union Station both Public and Private and will properly allocate costs to each project.

The parking lot total revenue for the periods of December 31, 2014 and 2015 is $220,000 and $234,000; respectively, an increase of approximately $14,000 or 7% over the first six months of the fiscal year 2014.

As of the end of December 2014, cash ending balance including checking, savings, and money market totaled approximately $4.2 million with an average of $4.4 million in cash inflows and $4.1 million in cash outflows for each of the month of November and December 2014.

There being no further discussion, Mr. Flynn motioned acceptance of the monthly financial report, which was seconded by Mr. Quintero, and accepted unanimously by a vote of 20.31 yea, 0.00 nay and 0.00 abstentions.

Mr. Mitchell then asked for the ADA Paratransit Program presentation. Ms. Shotland reported in Mr. Gonzalez’s absence.  She stated the following:

The District was informed that Chevy chassis will not be available until summer. Unfortunately there is a shortage and the deadline for ordering would have been December 2014.  However, in June 2015 we will be able to place the order for the 2016 model year.

Mr. Quintero asked if the individuals who sell the vehicles meet the same standards as those for the Postal Service.  Ms. Shotland indicated that they do not; the District’s specifications are significantly different.     

It was also noted that Mr. Gonzalez received approval from CTDOT to increase the District’s spare ratio of vehicles by five.
Miscellaneous ADA Issues
Ms. Shotland stated that she received a call from Senator Blumenthal’s office regarding assistance that the Department of Veteran Affairs is seeking based on issues that have occurred in the state due to a contract that was previously awarded by the VA to a contractor who was supposedly not licensed to perform this service in CT.  A follow up conference call was held with local VA management staff to coordinate a plan in which the District could assist with providing rides to eligible veterans within our service area.

Ms. Shotland also noted that there is 2nd step ADA paratransit appeal which will be elevated to Mr. Mitchell for follow up through the proper administrative procedures.

ADA Paratransit Transition
Ms. Shotland noted that the Directors have an additional report in their folders this month.  She stated that there will be two (2) sets of performance indicators for both the new service and the existing paratransit service through June.  At that time the two services will be consolidated and so will the reports.

The ADA department hired 1.5 FTEs to assist with the new CCRPA program which we took over on January 1, 2015.  She also stated that the District would like to find a place in New Britain to park some of the paratransit vehicles to decrease headways.   There are miscellaneous service issues that the District has encountered since taking on the administration of the new service which are being addressed with First Transit.  It is anticipated that it will take at least ninety-days to bring some performance issues in line.

The District has worked diligently in notifying CCRPA passengers of the change in administration of their service with as much transparency as possible. 

There being no further discussion, Mr. Mitchell then asked for Administration/Operation Program Presentations. Ms. Vo-Le mentioned that she completed the Annual 2014 National Transit Database Reporting to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).  She explained to the Directors the types of information that is incorporated into the report.

Regarding the Drug and Alcohol Program, a Program Review Meeting took place in January 2015 among the District’s Consortium Coordinator, the DOT Administrator, and the Occupational Drug Testing Company to discuss the drug and alcohol program in general.   Going forward, such meetings will take place on a quarterly basis.  In addition, over the next two months, the District’s Consortium Coordinator and the DOT Administrator will have site visits and meet with specific consortium members to review their drug and alcohol program.  The 2014 Annual Management Information Systems (MIS) Data Collection Reports for each consortium member are in progress.  The reports will be submitted to the FTA by March 15, 2015.  Regarding the Insurance Program, the District’s Consortium Coordinator will meet with the DOT Administrator next month to review the program.  Going forward, such Program Review Meetings will also take place on a quarterly basis.

The Federal Grant Reports for the first quarter of fiscal year 2015 (October – December 2014), which report the financial data, activities, and status of each federal grant, have been completed and submitted to FTA in January 2015.

The District is required by statute to participate in the State Set-Aside program.  This program requires twenty-five percent of the District’s total value of the annual budget for all contracts (after allowable deductions/exemptions) be set-aside for Small Businesses and of that computed amount, twenty-five percent must be awarded to Minority Businesses Enterprises.  The District is committed to set aside opportunities S/MBE that will assist in the economic growth of the Connecticut Small Minority Business community.  The District files quarterly and annually report to the Department of Administrative Services (DAS).  The 2Q FY15 S/MBE report has been submitted.

Cash fares for ADA paratransit services are managed by First Transit.  During the past two months, the District and the First Transit’s management have met to discuss strategy for improving the monthly fare reporting.  As a result, a new program has been created in Info Manager Software that will reduce the manual input and tie out to the Trapeze software.  In addition, revised procedures including trip editing and fare reconciliation are in the process of completion.

The District, as a recipient of grants from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), is required by statute to submit data including financial, assets, safety, and service to the NTD annually.  Such data is then submitted to Congress for review and use.  As required by FTA, the District has engaged its auditor (BlumShapiro) to perform a procedural review to evaluate whether the District complied with FTA standards.  As a result of the procedures performed, the auditor had no negative findings.  The annual NTD report for FY2014 has been submitted to FTA on January 28, 2015.

There being no questions, Mr. Mitchell then called on Ms. Fry to present her report. She stated the following:

Passenger Information Display
The system is in place and has been working well with a few minor glitches, as is expected with this type of technology.  We have tested the vacation scheduling features and have seen how the system performs when service is cancelled.  The Contractor is completing some small updates which should be finished by mid February.  Discussions with CTDOT have begun regarding modifications to our system to serve the commuter rail service.  This will be much more cost effective for the DOT than purchasing a new system.

Sigourney Street
Final design is underway and the project will go out to bid in the Spring.  The project includes improved sidewalks, bike lanes, pedestrian amenities, wayfinding signage, street trees and other plantings, and pedestrian scale lighting.

New Britain
Fuss & O’Neill and the City have made great progress with the design concept and are now working on preliminary design.  The preferred design is a nod to the City’s slogan (“Industry fills the hive and enjoys the honey”) featuring honeycomb and skep-like design elements.  The improvements will make the Main Street overpass of Route 72 more pedestrian and bike friendly and will also improve the view of New Britain for motorists on Route 72.  This phase of work is funded by the City and the state Department of Economic and Community Development. 

New Freedom Accessible Taxi
The District has signed a contract with ace Taxi Service (located east of the river) and will issue an RFP for the purchase of five (5) accessible taxis soon.  This taxi company will also operate a taxi voucher program for eligible individuals.

Transit Enhancements
Twenty-five (25) shelters were delivered and are currently being stored in the DOT parking lot adjacent the CTTRANSIT facility.  The towns of Windsor Locks and South Windsor have prepared drawings for the contractor to use for the site preparation and concrete work.  The town of Wethersfield is still preparing drawings, while Bloomfield still needs to prepare the drawings.  The plan is to install the Windsor Locks and South Windsor shelters starting in March. Construction costs have been provided for Windsor Locks and the District has requested costs for South Windsor.  Wethersfield and Bloomfield will follow later in the spring. After that we will begin to work with the City of Hartford.

Vehicle Procurement
The Selection Committee met in December to review the technical portion of the proposals.  Cost information was analyzed.  An award for vehicles will be made shortly once all paperwork associated with it is finalized.

Building Demolition Services
Eleven (11) bids were received on December 22, 2014 for building demolition services at 148 Roberts Street.  The District has issued an award to Environmental Services Inc.  A pre-construction meeting took place on February 4th.

Retail Space RFP
An RFP has been issued for retail space in the new transit center and for operation of a kiosk in the Great Hall.  Proposals are due February 20th.

Ms. Fry then went on to provide Ms. Sandra Sheehan’s report in her absence.

Grant activities were finalized by the end of December and the grant close out will be done after the last payment is submitted to Mansfield.

Northeast Utilities (NU) has requested that a Purchase and Sale Agreement be completed and signed in order to provide access to the parcels to conduct a Phase II environmental assessment.  The Town is currently working with its environmental attorney on the terms of the P&S.   Discussions have taken place with FTA regarding the best possible course of action to take to encourage NU to provide access to the site.  In addition, the Town continues to work with the Planning and Zoning Commission to implement the new zoning districts within Thompsonville.  The Magic Carpet is averaging ninety (90) passengers per day and recently celebrated its second anniversary.  The Casket building rehabilitation continues by the Economic Development Corporation. 

Construction activities for the Transit Center are at 94% complete.  Phase III, office space is substantially completed.  The transit center passenger waiting area and the canopy are still under construction.  It is expected that substantial completion will take place by Mid-March.

Construction activities continue for all the street components, Union Place construction is 75 % complete and construction shut down took place in December.  The railing installation should be completed during February.  Work on the vaults will be done during the next construction season. 

Bushnell Park North is 16% complete.  This project’s construction activities have continued during the winter shut down.  Work continues on the wall including attaching the brownstone veneer. The island on Ford Street was removed and electrical conduits have been installed.

Asylum/Pearl/SHS is 36% complete.  Foundations for signal mast arms have been installed weather permitting.   
There being no questions for Ms. Fry, Ms. Shotland provided her administrative report for the Board which included:

148 Roberts Street
The District staff reviewed and commented on the 50% design documents.  A revised cost estimate was provided, and the building and site work are estimated to be approximately $16M. The DOT provided the District with approval to continue to the final design stage.  Final design documents should be available on April 2015. Demolition services are to start on February 4th

Northeast Passenger Transportation Association
Ms. Shotland stated that she will be forwarding invitations to the Directors to attend the luncheon visit the vendor expo, and will also invite each to attend the Rising Star Breakfast.  The NEPTA Conference will be taking place March 25th & 26th in Hartford. 

Connecticut in the Capitol Seminar
On February 3rd & 4th Ms. Shotland attended the CT in the Capitol Seminar in Washington, DC.  The agenda included: What to Expect in the 114th Congress with Senators Chris Murphy, Richard Blumenthal and Meet the Press moderator, Chuck Todd.  Other panel discussions on the 1st day included: Health Care-Next Chapter and Consequences of the Upcoming Supreme Court Case, and the following panel discussion was Transportation and Infrastructure.  On the second day there were two additional panel discussions; Immigration Reform from 1986-2014 with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and the final one was Behind the Scenes Dodd-Frank legislation with the moderators being past legislators Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank. 

Rail Update
The current revised lease amendment is now with Amtrak. Ms. Shotland stated that given that we are no longer dealing with previous issues regarding interior space of the building that is leased to Amtrak she is hopeful that the lease amendment will be accepted.  Our attorney provided Amtrak with a markup of the easement which was also provided to the State in separate negotiations with them. She stated that none of the changes impact Amtrak.  Mr. Kelly asked about the easement issue. Ms. Shotland indicated that the easement was a significant issue for Amtrak due to parking impacts to them, and allowing access to CTDOT.    

Regarding the current work taking place, Amtrak has started working underneath the north end platform in the area of the easement to do some environmental remediation before any work can be performed on top of the rail platform.   Following this, their B&B staff intends to start constructing the platform braces.  Completion of that work will be sporadic with a deadline of April 1st.    There is a parking impact to Amtrak underneath the north end platform so a compensation estimate has been worked out which the District will receive from CTDOT.  Amtrak is receiving a validation of parking and use of the Spruce Street Lot during the construction work. 

Spruce Street Parking Lot Proposal
There is a possibility that the University of Hartford will bring one of their graduate programs to Hartford, and if they decide to lease the ground floor of 600 Asylum Avenue (Capitol View Apartment Building), the District has been asked if we could accommodate seventy (70) additional monthly parkers.  The need is for a five-year term with two (2) five-year options beginning in 2016.  After evaluating the numbers, the District can provide (30) parking spaces without impacting other future potential parking scenarios.   Mr. Quintero asked what part of the day the thirty (30) parking spaces would be occupied.  Ms. Shotland stated that the parking must be available 24/7 to the monthly card holders.  Ms. Cassidy if the University of Hartford is buying the building. Ms. Shotland stated that she is not sure, but did not believe that it was the university.  Ms. Cassidy questioned if the state owns the property under the highway. Ms. Shotland acknowledged that they did.
Mr. Mitchell next called on Ms. Shotland to provide the December CRCOG Transportation Committee meeting report.  Ms. Shotland noted that the CRCOG Transportation Committee meeting scheduled in the month of January was cancelled.
There being no further business brought before the Board, Ms. Gamble moved that the meeting be adjourned. Upon seconding by Mr. Quintero, the motion passed by a vote of 21.68 yea, 0.00 nay, and 0.00 abstention.  The Regular Meeting was adjourned at 8:01 p.m. 

                                                                      Respectfully submitted,

                                                                      James McCavanagh


 Adopted: 03/12/15