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Meeting Minutes

Hartford Connecticut
December 17, 2015

Stephen F. Mitchell, Chairman

At 7:05 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: Joan Gamble (arrived 7:12pm), Bloomfield; Peter J. Bonzani and Marilyn Pet, East Hartford; Gilbert Hayes, East Windsor; Stephen F. Mitchell and Kevin Mooney, Enfield; Frank Lord, Hartford; James McCavanagh, Manchester; William Hall, Newington; Ferguson R. Jansen, Jr., Simsbury; Bruce Snow and Gary Pitcock, South Windsor; Brendan T. Flynn and Peter Gardow, Wethersfield; David Raney, Windsor, Mary A. Oliver, Vernon. District staff present were Vicki L. Shotland, Executive Director; DJ Gonzalez, Operations Administrator; Nhan Vo-Le, Director of Fiscal and Administrative Service; Sandra Sheehan, Director of Grants and Contract Administration and, Sandy Fry Grant and Procurement Program Coordinator.

The Chairman asked if there was any member of the public who wished to address the board. There were none. William Hall then moved adoption of the November 5, 2015 meeting minutes, which was seconded by Mr. Jansen, and approved by a vote of 25.77 yea, 0.00 nay and 0.00 abstentions.

Mr. Mitchell then asked for presentation of the monthly financial report. Before Ms. Vo-Le began, Ms. Shotland explained that it was going to be an abbreviated report during the meeting for various reasons.  Ms. Vo-Le discussed the following:

Spruce Street Parking Lot Revenues
Percentages of the Spruce Street parking fees reflecting the period ending November 30th for the current period and the last three fiscal years are shown on page one of the Financial Report.  Through the end of November, daily parking fees for FY13, FY14, FY15, and FY16 account for 84%, 93%, 91%, and 89% of the parking lot revenues; respectively.  Monthly and event parking fees made up another 7% to 16%.


Changes in total parking fees for each category (daily, monthly, and event) through the end of November 30th for the current fiscal year and the last three years are shown on page two of the Financial Report.  Parking fees had grown steadily for several years through July 2015, slightly declining during August 2015, dropping to $27,800 during September 2015, and had increased to $32,000 and $33,000 during the months of October and November 2015; respectively.  The decrease in the daily parking fees since August 2015 primarily appears to be based on the impact of construction on the tracks in Hartford.  Amtrak passengers have had to take intercity buses from Hartford to New Haven based on the inability of trains to run while construction activities take place.  The track work in Hartford began on August 3, 2015.  As a result, the parking lot Sunday exits have been slowly declining because fewer people appear to be using the lot over the weekends. The track work also entails weekends and nights.  It is likely that more people are taking their cars to New Haven or driving to New York directly.  The low price of fuel has provided more people with the opportunity to get in their vehicles.

Information related to parking revenues including credit card fees from FY2008 – November 2015 is captured on page 3.  For the first (5) months of fiscal year 2016, the Parking Lot has generated approximately $180,000 in revenues.  As compared to the first (5) months of fiscal year 2015, revenues have been slightly decreased by nearly $17,000.  This reflects a combination of a reduction in the daily and event parking revenues of almost $21,000; partially offset by an increase in monthly parking revenues of approximately $4,000. 

Ms. Pet asked if there is any use of the electric charging station.  Ms. Shotland responded that it is used by some.

There being no further discussion, Joan Gamble motioned acceptance of the monthly financial report, which was seconded by Mary Oliver, and accepted unanimously by a vote of 27.61 yea, 0.00 nay and 0.00 abstentions.

Mr. Mitchell then asked Mr. Gonzalez to report on the ADA Paratransit Program. Mr. Gonzalez provided the following information:

ADA Paratransit Program
After a long waiting period Mr. Gonzalez announced that all of the new ADA Paratransit buses are up and running with very few issues.

He also stated that after conducting a national search, First Transit hired the new General Manager (Andrew Burke).  In his previous position he held a transit management position in New Jersey, and he has an extensive background in ADA paratransit service. 

Mr. Gonzalez stated that CTDOT approved six additional buses as spares for the fleet due to the growth of the service, and the number of vehicles now stands at 147.

He also mentioned that there was a driver shortage, but First Transit has been aggressive about filling the gap and getting new bus operators trained.                             

Ms. Pet shared her experience when she attended a meeting at a complex in East Hartford where individuals expressed some concerns about service.  The District immediately sent representation to the site and met with residents and management to address their issues.  

Mr. Mitchell then asked for Program Presentations.   He called on Ms. Vo-Le first, whereby she discussed the Drug & Alcohol program:

FTA Audit
The Consortium received the audit compliance letter from the FTA which indicated that the Connecticut Statewide Drug and Alcohol Testing Program is in compliance with the federally-mandated drug and alcohol testing program. 

Drug and Alcohol Survey
There were approximately (20) agencies who participated in a “survey monkey”.  Although there were few areas that will need improvement, the result is very good.  To improve the program, Michael Guerrera (CTDOT liaison) and Ms. Vo-Le met with ODT (3rd Party Contractor) to discuss an implementation plan for perceived weaknesses in the program.

Holiday Draw
The focus of the Holiday Draw is to make safety-sensitive employees aware that they can be tested at any time including on a holiday.  The testing period for this year’s Holiday Draw will cover from Saturday, December 19th, 2015 through Saturday, January 2nd, 2016.  There will be 25 drug and alcohol tests to be conducted.

A two-hour training session for each DER and Reasonable Suspicion will be conducted by ODT on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 at the Middletown Transit District.  The DER training session is offered to drug and alcohol program managers.  The Reasonable Suspicion training session is provided for supervisors and other transit officials who are authorized by the agency to determine when it is appropriate to administer Reasonable Suspicion testing.  In case of snow day, the training will be moved to the following Thursday, January 28th. 

Mr. Mitchell then asked Mr. Gonzalez to present his next report.  He addressed the following:

As of December 13th, CTTransit has begun to operate service on Union Place at the new Transit Center.  
The cleaning of the gutters for the entire building has been completed.

Mr. Gonzalez is working with Propark on a request they made to extend the time allotment for parkers after they have paid at the pay station.  Currently they are allowed 10 minutes from payment till they exit at the gate, they will be given 5 additional minutes.    Some parkers have experienced difficulty meeting the present restriction of ten minutes, and Propark management feels the change will be helpful.   However, at the same time we will decrease the turnaround time in the lot from ten minutes to five minutes.   The turnaround time is the time a parker is allowed to circulate in the lot, looking for a space, and then exiting without paying.  Both changes can be modified at any time.  Mr. Lord asked if the parking lot ever fills to capacity.  Mr. Gonzalez answered that a small number of events fill the lot up.  Mr. Hall asked if there is any mechanism that allows for notification that the parking lot is full.  Ms. Shotland indicated that the Propark Command Center located at Union Station should be able to determine capacity since they monitor the lot through video cameras. 

Insurance Consortium 
Continue to work with CTDOT on site visits.  The plan is to visit every site by the middle of January.  Another task is continuing to work on developing a safety manual to be distributed after completion to all statewide insurance consortium members.  

Mr. Mitchell then called on Ms. Fry to present her report.  She spoke about the following:

Skylight Replacement
The District has received historic office approval (both at state and City level) for the replacement of the skylights over the north and south wings of the roof of the station.  The replacement work will commence in the spring.

Sigourney Street
While construction has not yet begun, regular monthly meetings are being held with the Contractor, field inspection staff, designer, and the City.  The contractor, Paramount Construction LLC was awarded the project in August but chose to wait until the spring 2016 to commence construction activities. 


New Britain
The City recently was informed by the state that the funding gap for the project will be met via Transit Oriented Development funding available via OPM.  This enables the project to move to full design and the project can be built in one phase.  It is expected that the project will go out for construction bids in early 2017.

The proposed 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 taxi voucher program is now set up for Executive 2000 Taxi, although they are yet to have any individuals sign up for this service.  In the meantime, Ace Taxi accessible vehicles are in operation, and the development of their voucher program is currently underway. 

Union Station Master Plan
This week the District conducted the first scope negotiation meeting for this project. 

Mr. Mitchell then called on Ms. Sheehan to present her report, and she noted the following:

Transit Enhancements (New Bus Shelters)
Construction activity at Windsor Locks has been substantially completed.  South Windsor work is progressing nicely due to the weather.  Concrete pads, sidewalks and sidewalk ramps have been constructed.  The Town of Wethersfield has confirmed the local match participation.  The District is waiting for final payment of the local share of the shelter before issuing a purchase order for installation of the shelters.   CRCOG has prepared a draft shelter program policy to be presented to the DOT staff.

Enfield ITC
Eversource has agreed to provide access for Environmental Site Assessment work although there is no signed agreement as of yet.  The Town, Conn DOT, FTA and the District are supposed to meet in the near future to discuss the Town’s request to coordinate funds and efforts to the parcel located on the east side of the tracks on what is Bigelow property. 

Transit Center, contractor submitted final application for payment and information requested from the District, including final and partial lien waivers, punch list completion, warranties, final certified payroll, etc.

Union Place construction is 99 % complete.  Work on the vaults was completed as well as some of the items identified during the substantial completion inspection.  This week there was a final walk thru of the project site.  This component of the project is listed as being substantially complete on November 29, 2015.

Bushnell Park North is 55% complete and this is due to the delays related to the relocation of Gold Street.  A public hearing was held on November 16th.   On November 23rd there was a vote whereby the City Council passed a resolution 8 – 1 on whether the amount of land for the new road would be replaced by an equal or greater amount of open space.  Since an appeal has been filed, on December 2nd, a court hearing was held in which it was decided not to hear the appeal.  The work stop order was rescinded this week.    Progress continues along Jewell Street and Ford Street on the north side.  All the sidewalk installation and tree planting have been completed.  There is a section of Pearl Street that is currently being worked on.    Station 20 on will be completed next year as well as the Ford Street road base.   

Asylum/Pearl/SHS is 87% complete.  Installation of traffic signals and all ancillary equipment at Asylum Street, Central Row, American Row, State Street and Market Street is basically the only work left to complete on this project.  However, mast arms are not going to be delivered until January 2016. 

The District requested a contract extension to FTA.  This request was forwarded to headquarters. 

148 Roberts Street (New ADA Paratransit Facility)
Banton Construction Company continues the start up activities including mobilization, clearing and grubbing, erosion control, construction staking, and excavation for building pad. Permits from MDC have been issued, and the easement modification filed.  Construction meetings are held biweekly. 

The District selected and negotiated a contract with Terracon to provide special inspections and materials testing during construction.  The District also selected and negotiated a contract with VHB for the services of an Owner’s Representative to serve as construction inspector to assist during the construction of the building. Gary Pitcock commented on how much the site has changed since the work commenced.  The workers start at 6:00 a.m. the site is completely lit up for work. 

Mr. Gardow indicated that he had an opportunity to sit in the newly installed shelters in Windsor Locks.  He likes them and has seen people using them.  Mr. Hayes asked whatever happened to the work that needed to be done to separate the shelters delivered by towns.  Ms. Sheehan indicated that the contractor separated the parts by communities in order to facilitate the installation of the shelters.  Mr. Snow and Mr. Pitcock requested the location of the shelters to be installed in South Windsor.  Both Directors will be sent the list.

Mr. Mitchell called on Ms. Shotland to provide her report to the Board.  She spoke about the following:

Federal Transportation Bill
Earlier in the month the President signed into law the $305 billion highway bill.  The FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act) is the first long-term national transportation spending package enacted in over a decade.  For transit the Act includes a number of positive provisions, including reinstating the bus discretionary grant program and strengthening the Buy America requirements. Over the term of the five years there is an 11% increase in spending to be spread across all realms of transportation.  (In the folder you will more detail on the funding.)

Union Station-Wine Bar
Currently in negotiations with the entity that made a strong proposal to open a café by April 2016.  The name of the party will be disclosed once the agreement is signed.  This new venture will be a great addition to Union Station for its patrons and to generate additional income.  Mr. Hall asked what the competition will do to Hot Tomatos’ business.  Ms. Shotland stated that Hot Tomatos is responsible for promoting their business, and that this is a different type of venue which will provide patrons with more than one choice.

Lease Negotiations
Ms. Shotland stated that she is in an early negotiation period with one of the current tenants regarding their space, with the possibility of adding additional significant square footage to their current leasehold.

Town Contributions
The letters have gone out to the towns earlier than usual providing enough time for the councils to contact the District with questions regarding the increase, and to place the expenditure into their budgets for FY’17.

Climate Change Meeting
Ms. Shotland stated that she was invited to attend the Governor’s Council on Climate Change.  The workshop was intended to gather feedback and ideas on how best to design a process to develop a strategy to meet the state’s mandated greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 80% below 2001 levels by 2050.

Hydrogen Buses
Ms. Shotland and Ms. Sheehan have a conference call next week with a representative from the CT Center for Advanced Technology to discuss where the DEEP wants to develop hydrogen stations and if the District has an interest in coordinating activities for a group purchase of hydrogen buses.  Several issues will be discussed, but funding for these activities is a question to be answered.

Superior Court-FOIC Appeal
Ms. Shotland attended a hearing on 12/17/15.  This was in regard to Mr. Bradshaw Smith’s appeal vs. the Freedom of Information Commission. 

Mr. Mitchell next called on Mr. Hayes to provide the December CRCOG Transportation Committee meeting report. The summary of the committee meeting is as follows:

CTfastrak East update: 
Earlier this year Governor Malloy announced that CTfastrak will be extended to east of the river within a year.  Cara Radzins of CRCOG gave an update on current plans.  The initial deployment of CTfastrak east will not have a dedicated roadway like the New Britain Busway.  Rather it will use the 184 and 384 High Occupancy Vehicle lanes and existing roads.  Stations will be enhanced shelters, not full stations like the existing Ctfastrak line.  Initially, the Ctfastrak service will only add non peak service.  There are no buses available to allow the addition of peak hour service.  There will be fewer stops, upgraded shelters at stops, and real time information.  A public meeting to discuss CTfastrak east will be held in January.  Mr. Hall asked if any details were provided when they talked about Fastrak, and if they had spoken about utilizing rail beds to extend to Storrs.  Mr. Hayes indicated that the service is going to be different than the current guideway.  It is not intended to replace what we currently have, but to enhance the current service. Mr. Mitchell also provided in more detail information regarding north/south and east/west rail lines which no longer exist.  Mr. Hall also discussed opportunities which will be brought about by UCONN’s expansion and the need for additional transportation services.

AARP Driver safety: 
Brett Leveille the AARP Driver Safety District Coordinator gave an informative presentation on a class that AARP offers to seniors who want to modify their driving in acknowledgement of changes in ability (vision, hearing, reaction time) as individual’s age.  Those who take the class are able to get reduced auto insurance rates in Connecticut. 

Mr. Mitchell next asked if there was any new business to be brought before the Board.  He noted that the next board meeting will be held on Thursday, February 4th, 2016.  There being no further business brought before the Board, Mr. Bonzani moved that the meeting be adjourned. Upon seconding by Mr. Mooney, the motion passed by a vote of 27.61 yea, 0.00 nay, and 0.00 abstention. The Regular Meeting was adjourned at 8:08 p.m. 





Respectfully submitted,


Minutes Adopted: 2/04/16