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Union Station

Hartford Connecticut
March 12, 2015

Stephen F. Mitchell, Chairman

At 7:02 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 Conference Room of the District at One Union Place, Hartford, Connecticut. The following Directors were present: Peter J. Bonzani and Marilyn Pet, East Hartford; Kevin J. Mooney and Stephen F. Mitchell, Enfield; Frank Lord and Jennifer Cassidy, Hartford; James McCavanagh, Manchester; William G. Hall, Newington; Ferguson R. Jansen, Jr., Simsbury; Gary S. Pitcock, South Windsor; Richard F. Messenger and A. David Giordano, West Hartford; Peter Gardow, Wethersfield; Ricardo Quintero and David Raney, Windsor. District staff present were Vicki L. Shotland, Executive Director; DJ Gonzalez, Operations Administrator; 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. Quintero then moved adoption of the February 5, 2015 meeting minutes, which was seconded by Mr. Raney, and approved by a vote of 28.08 yea, 0.00 nay and 2.79 abstentions.

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

Fiscal Year 2014 Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting:
The District once again received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for fiscal year 2014.  This Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by the District and its management. 

ADA Paratransit Program:
The Paratransit Program has performed strongly and generated approximately $78,000 in excess of actual revenues over expenses with a favorable variance of $98,000 between budget and actual through January 31st.  The favorable variance is primarily a result of lower fuel, ADA service expenses, and indirect cost allocation; partially offset by lower ADA program revenue.  Fuel expense is favorable due to a combination of falling prices and lesser fuel consumption (225,000 gallons of fuel consumed vs. 255,000 gallons of fuel were budgeted, a difference of 30,000 gallons or 12%).  The ADA service expense is low due to the actual hours operated being less than the budgeted hours (145,000 hours actually operated vs. 150,000 budgeted hours, a difference of 5,000 hours or 3%).  The ADA program revenue is unfavorable generally due to the unanticipated lower contract amount approved by CTDOT ($12.9 million was approved vs. a budget of $13.5 million, a difference of $571,000 or 4% for the fiscal year).

General Fund:
As of the end of January 2015, the General Fund yields approximately $65,000 in excess of actual revenues over expenses primarily due to 100% of the member town contributions.  Overall the General Fund generates a favorable variance of nearly $2,000 between budget and actual primarily due to interest earned on investment.

Spruce Street Parking Lot:
The Spruce Street Parking Lot continues to perform strongly.  Through the end of January, the parking lot generated $189,000 in excess of actual revenues over expenses or 20% over the budgeted amount.   By the end of the fiscal year the parking lot is expected to generate approximately $268,000 in excess of revenues over expenses.  As compared budget to actual, the parking lot yields a favorable variance of $32,000 mainly due to less snow removal activities than budgeted for the month of January, however to be offset next month due to excessive snow removal costs due to the record number of snowfalls in February. 

Union Station:
The Union Station public portion of the budget yields an unfavorable variance of approximately $32,000 between budget and actual while the private portion generates a favorable variance of nearly $29,000, a net difference of $3,000.  At the end of the fiscal year, the finance department will reconcile the activities for both portions and will properly allocate costs to each project.

Total revenue for the Spruce Street Parking Lot for the periods ending January 31, 2014 and 2015 is $250,000 and $265,000; respectively, an increase of approximately $15,000 or 6% over the first seven months of the fiscal year 2014.

Cash Flow Report
As of January 31, 2015, the cash ending balance including checking, savings, and money market totaled approximately $4.3 million with a total cash inflow and outflow of $1.6 million and $1.5 million; respectively.

There being no further discussion, Mr. Messenger motioned acceptance of the monthly financial report, which was seconded by Mr. Quintero and accepted unanimously by a vote of 30.87 yea, 0.00 nay and 0.00 abstentions.

Mr. Mitchell then asked for the ADA Paratransit Program presentation. Mr. Gonzalez stated the following:

After awarding the contract for ADA vehicle purchases, the District was notified that diesel chassis will not be available until early 2016. Since it is critical for the District to continue to replace some of the older fleet, it was determined to go ahead and order thirty-five (35) 2016 Ford gas buses for the current year. An additional order for thirty-five (35) to forty (40) paratransit vehicles with Chevy chassis will be ordered early next year.
In July 2015 when the District consolidates the two paratransit operations, the intent is to have overnight parking in New Britain for ten (10) to fifteen (15) buses to minimize the cost of the deadhead miles from Hartford.  

First Transit maintenance and District management are discontent with the fleet maintenance service that we are being provided with.  After extensive negotiations with Interstate Ford, it has been determined to use other Ford dealers in the area to service the needs of major repairs required within the fleet.
The District continues to look at different means to purchase seventeen (17) vehicles that are currently owned by First Transit, and are utilized for the Central CT service.  Federal funds cannot be used to procure used vehicles so other options are being considered.  

The CNG reimbursement program for diesel gas from the local Shell Station has now returned a total of $13,500 in the previous six months.

As the District has taken over responsibility for oversight for the Central CT ADA paratransit program, several issues have needed investigation and resolution based on concerns and complaints which previously existed.  The District has been proactive and aggressive in trying to resolve as many of these issues as possible since January 1st.

The District has received approval from CTDOT to purchase a plow truck and sander for future use.  The cost savings will be substantial to have First Transit perform the snow removal vs. an outside contractor.

There being no further discussion, Mr. Mitchell then asked for Administration/Operation Program Presentations.  Mr. Gonzalez stated the following:

The winter has taken a toll on some outdoor areas of Union Station.  A schedule of repairs will be put together for the spring clean up.  Some of these repairs may be extensive in nature and in cost.

Insurance Consortium site visits are going well; six (6) out of twelve (12) sites have been visited.  The rest will take place over the course of the next few months. 

Ms. Vo-Le was then asked to present her administrative report to the board. She stated the following:

Statewide Insurance Consortium
The current procedure for self-insured reserve claims related to physical vehicle damages will soon be reviewed and updated.  The new procedure should be in place by the end of this fiscal year or early next fiscal year.  There will also be on-site audits for self-insured reserve claims.  The audit process should be in place by the end of fiscal year 2015 or early fiscal year 2016.  She also noted that good results can be attributed to the effort of the consortium’s insurance agency.

Drug & Alcohol Program
Meeting with the DERs to discuss the drug and alcohol program and address any concerns the agency may have are ongoing.  The CTDOT liaison and Ms. Vo-Le have met with some of the large agencies to discuss specific drug and alcohol procedures and concerns.  These scheduled meetings with consortium members are ongoing.  The 2014 drug and alcohol testing data (MIS forms) for all of the consortium members have been input into FTA website and will be submitted to FTA this week as required.  FTA is hosting the 10th Annual Drug and Alcohol National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia in April.  The conference will provide attendees with a solid background on FTA Title 49 Parts 40 and 655: Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs and Prevention of Alcohol Misuse and Prohibited Drug Use in Transit Operations.  The Drug & Alcohol Consortium will offer a Post-Accident Training next month that will cover regulations, policy guidelines, checklist, various scenarios and discussions on post-accidents.  The training will be conducted by Occupational Drug Testing (ODT). 

There being no questions, Mr. Mitchell then called on Ms. Fry to present the report for grants, procurement and contracts.   She stated the following:

Passenger Information Display
The system is in place and has been working well.  There are some minor updates in the works; these will be made when the CTTRANSIT monitor is installed in the new transit center.  Discussions with CTDOT to modify our system to serve the commuter rail service are ongoing.  This will be much more cost effective for CTDOT than purchasing a new system. Ms. Shotland has been contacted by the Rail Administrator to discuss and negotiate a contract between the state and the District for integration of the PIDS.

Sigourney Street
Final design is almost complete and bid documents are being prepared.  The snow has delayed environmental investigations so that the earliest the project will go out to bid now is May 15.  The project includes improved sidewalks, bike lanes, pedestrian amenities, wayfinding signage, street trees and other plantings, and pedestrian scale lighting.

New Britain
Design is progressing on this project.  The City is seeking additional funding to enable the project to be built in one phase, rather than two.  The funding is STP urban funding which the CTDOT has identified as available.  This will supplement the Federal Transit Administration Bus Livability funding that the District is overseeing.  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.

New Freedom Accessible Taxi
The RFP for five (5) wheelchair accessible vehicles was issued on February 24 and proposals are due March 20.  There appears to be strong interest in the project and the District expects to get several proposals.  These taxis will go into service for Ace Taxi Service.

Ms. Fry then went on to present Ms. Sheehan’s report in her absence.  Ms. Fry reported the following: 

Transit Enhancements
A purchase order has been issued to Misterscapes for the installation of shelters in Windsor Locks.  The contractor is currently working to finalize the encroachment permit needed from the DOT as the shelters are to be installed along a state highway.  Pricing has been provided by contractors for the South Windsor shelters.  The town of Wethersfield is expected to forward construction drawings, while Bloomfield still needs to prepare the drawings.  The plan is to install the Windsor Locks and South Windsor shelters starting in the Spring. Wethersfield and Bloomfield will follow later in the Spring. After that we will begin to work with the DOT for the allocation of additional funds and possible restructuring of the program.   Mr. Pitcock asked if there is a certain percentage for transit enhancement funds allocated.  Ms. Shotland stated the amount is approximately 1%.  She noted that the District is anticipating additional funds for oversight next year if released by the state for this purpose.  Mr. Pitcock asked if an explanation for the use of the additional money is required before being received.  Ms. Shotland said stated that the municipalities will usually indicate an interest and a need for the funds.   She also said that if the towns are awarded the transit enhancement funds they are usually responsible for the 20% local match.         

Vehicle Procurement
An award for vehicles was made to Shepard Bros, Inc. for the Type A, B and C vehicles.  A low floor vehicles contract was awarded to Matthews Buses Inc.  Contract documents have been signed with Shepard and initial outreach for vehicle purchase has taken place.  Information has been forwarded to the agencies participating in the Joint Procurement Program.

The Town continues to work finalizing the terms of a Purchase and Sale Agreement with Northeast Utilities (NU).  This is needed in order to provide access to the parcels to conduct a Phase II environmental assessment.  Discussions have taken place with FTA regarding the best possible course of action to take to encourage NU to provide access to the site.  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 is almost finished and the canopy will be completed once the weather breaks.  

Union Place construction is 75 % complete.  The railing installation should be completed by the end of this week.  It was delayed due to weather. 

Bushnell Park North is 20% complete.  This project’s construction activities came to a stop in February due to winter storms. 

Asylum/Pearl/SHS is 37% complete.  Foundations for signal mast arms were constructed and the mast arms installed as weather permitted.   

Contractors are getting ready for the new construction season.  It is expected that all activities will start on April 1st.  Revised construction schedules have been provided and reviewed by construction administration consultants as well as the City.  Monthly reports are provided to FTA.  The District processed payment reimbursement to the City.

148 Roberts Street
The District’s staff, as well as First Transit’s staff continues to provide comments to the 50% design documents.  Final design documents should be available on April 2015.  Demolition services have been moving right along with the hazmat abatement and removal of contaminated materials.  Utility disconnect is for the most part complete.  We anticipate that the pavilion will be coming down followed by the building within the next two (2) weeks.

Ms. Shotland was then asked to provide her administrative report for the Board which included:

Northeast Passenger Transportation Association
Ms. Shotland stated that she forwarded invitations to the Directors and has received RSVPs from some.  She anticipates good attendance and a strong overall program with diverse speakers from the transportation industry.

Rail Update
CTDOT has determined that they will take the property necessary at Union Station to begin work for the CTRail project by eminent domain. The District is caught in a complicated situation due to the apparent resistance of Amtrak to work amicably through a negotiation process which could have been settled without getting to this point.  There has been a land appraisal which will compensate the District for the proposed acquisition.  Mr. Jansen asked if there is a local contact person for Amtrak with whom we are working.   Ms. Shotland stated that this issue is being handled by their regional and corporate office.       

City of Hartford- Easement
The City of Hartford will be taking approximately 550 sq. ft. from the District on the south end of the Union Place sidewalk to install a mast arm for traffic signalization.  The appraisal of the land is approximately $12K.  Mr. Hall questioned the reason for a permanent easement and it was explained by Mr. Mitchell that it is for future access purposes to perform maintenance.          

I-84 (Spruce Street Parking Lot)
The District was notified that there will be a taking of parking spots for a bridge construction project slated for early 2017.  There will be approximately thirty-three (33) parking spaces that will be rendered useless for two construction seasons based on this infrastructure project that is needed to repair the viaduct.  However, CTDOT and their consultants are working with the District to minimize the impact that this may cause.  Mr. Pitcock asked if CTDOT will pay for the loss of income, and Ms. Shotland said they will not.  Mr. Lord mentioned that there have been additional meetings regarding the I-84 viaduct long-range plan, which includes the relocation of the train tracks.  Mr. Lord asked about a possible timeframe. Ms. Fry said there is a separate study for the rail relocation in partnership with the highway viaduct and that there will be upcoming public hearings. 

New Transit Center
Negotiations are to begin shortly with the prospective tenant that was selected through an RFP process to lease the retail space in the new transit center.  We anticipate that the store will be open before the actual CTTransit buses circulate around the station, but there is a lot of opportunity to be successful based on others who visit Union Station.  The rental income will offset some of the anticipated operating expenses in the transit center.

Negotiations have begun with Cardtronics, the world leader in self-service financial kiosks to place an ATM in the new transit center.  Once again, the rental income will be used to offset operating expenses in the locale.

Grant Funding
Ms. Shotland and senior staff met with the CTDOT Director of Finance and staff to discuss the District’s formula funding request for FY’16.  It is important that the District begin to drawdown older 5307 formula funds which have been assigned to capital projects, but not expended.  In the meantime, the state has provided final approval for full funding (approximately $20ml) to build the new ADA Paratransit facility.

Ms. Shotland then announced there will be a grand opening of the new transportation center in conjunction with a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Union Station.  The date will be announced.      
Mr. Mitchell then called on Ms. Fry to provide the February CRCOG Transportation Committee meeting report.  Ms. Fry reported the following:

Upcoming Planning Efforts 
The FHWA has requested that CRCOG undertake a regional freight study and report.  CRCOG has initiated efforts to update its long range transportation plan to include the additional towns in the region. 

New Mapping data 
CRCOG will be taking the lead in having new aerial photography done for the state.  This will provide the detail that towns need for aerial photos.

MPO Designation 
Designation of new federal metropolitan planning organizations must go through a lengthy process.  So, even though eight (8) new towns have joined CRCOG as members of the regional planning organization, they will not become part of the CRCOG MPO until FHWA and the Governor complete that process.  The MPO oversees the distribution of federal funds in the region.  Until the new designation process is complete, CRCOG will continue to serve as MPO for the old CRCOG region, and a staff person at CRCOG will oversee the MPO for the former Central CT Regional Planning agency.  The towns in that MPO will continue to meet as an MPO.

Funding Decisions
CRCOG recommended that an additional $1 M of STP urban funding be granted to the TIGER project.

Mr. Lord inquired about the possible impact a shutdown of the rail tunnels in New York would have on the proposed CTRails service.       

Mr. Mitchell stated that there will be no board meeting in April 2015.  The annual meeting will be held on May 21, 2015 and the following one will be held on June 25, 2015.
There being no further business brought before the Board, Mr. Bonzani moved that the meeting be adjourned. Upon seconding by Mr. Jansen, Jr., the motion passed by a vote of 30.87 yea, 0.00 nay, and 0.00 abstention.  The Regular Meeting was adjourned at 8:19 p.m. 

                                                                                                            Respectfully submitted,

                                                                                                                    James McCavanagh/Secretary ADOPTED 5/21/2015