October 2011 Board Meeting

You know the drill. Each month, the board convenes to go over the latest stuff, vote on any resolutions, and blah blah blah.

Several months ago, board member Richard Bloom, who is also a Hanford employee, brought up the idea of transit service to the Hanford area. Back in the day (1940’s to ~1995/1996), there was commuter bus service to the area, but that ended when the Department of Energy cut the money that helped subsidize the operation from their budget. One possible concept that has been floated around for this service is what’s referred to as a “Worker/Driver Bus.” It’s pretty much the same thing as a Vanpool, only on a much larger scale. Here in Washington State, only Kitsap Transit has an existing program like this. Though it is a good concept, a Worker/Driver program is unlikely to happen here in the Tri-Cities, as the bus operator’s union has made it very obvious that they’re against it. Tim Frederickson, the GM of BFT, told the union that this program would have no impact on existing service hours or the current workforce, but the union responded with the demands that service routes/specific work/destinations, as well as the type of vehicle, would have to be defined, and wage increases for everyone. There’s also consideration of expanding the MegaVan program (which right now consists of 1 25-passenger Vanpool), using 2 spare 30-foot buses, but it’s still being looked at for the time being.

Also covered were resolutions to extend current contracts.

  • Resolution 40-2011: Authorizing the General Manager to extend the contract with Bridgestone America Tire Operations, LLC for the lease of bus tires.
  • Resolution 41-2011: Authorizing the General Manager to extend the Banner Bank contract.
  • Resolution 42-2011: Authoring General Manager to extend the Garda Contract. (Vault/Money carrying service)
Staff had plenty of good things to say about the three separate companies, and felt that extending each contract would be in the best interest for BFT. There was little disagreement with this, and the resolutions passed unanimously.
On the meeting agenda, there were also two more resolutions under the Consent Agenda. The first was Resolution 43-2011, which was to authorize the General Manager to approve change orders up to 10 percent regarding Agreement #786E with Integrus Architecture, P.S. The reason for this is BFT needs additional support from them for the upcoming mediation that BFT will be entering with G2 Construction over the application for the extension of the construction contract and additional monies. As mentioned before, G2’s original contract was for 365 days, and it’s now been 700 days and the project still has not been finished. The second was Resolution 44-2011, which authorizes the General Manager to enter into a Forward Fixed-Price “Swap” Fuel Risk Management Agreement. The current contract is due to expire on January 31, 2012, so this will be a brand new contract rather than a renewal. In the new contract, there will be 5 participating agencies: BFT, Clallam Transit, Jefferson Transit, Link Transit, and Valley Transit. In the current contract, BFT is the main agency, but in the new contract, Link Transit will be the main agency. However, BFT will still be purchasing the majority of the fuel, with 38,500 gallons (45.83%). Clallam Transit will buy 21,000 gallons (25%), Jefferson Transit will buy 6,000 gallons (7.14%), Link Transit will buy 16,000 gallons (19.05%), and Valley Transit will buy 2,500 gallons (2.98%).
For the CAC (Citizens Advisory Committee), there was an action item to approve the application of a new member for the Dial-A-Ride sub-committee, Dottie Leach. Interestingly enough, her application had been submitted way back in January 2010. Rusty Morris, one of two CAC reps at the board meeting, noted how Dottie has been attending the meetings for months now, and the CAC collectively agreed that she will make a good addition to the committee. This now will put the current CAC membership at 17. Ideally, they’ve stated they would like to have a minimum of 20 members, and they have been looking for new members in the teenage/young adult area. In the September CAC meeting, they held a round-table with BFT board members Leo Bowman, Robert Koch, and non-voting union rep Norma Nelson. While there was a good discussion, I only want to cover one particular comment from Norma Nelson. When posed the question “If money was not an issue, what projects and/or services would you like to see BFT offer?,” she responded with, “Bus stops closer together. Some of ours are blocks apart. Also accessible ramps for wheelchair or otherwise disabled persons to get to the bus. On a positive note, with exception of the older MCI buses, all our buses now have wheelchair lifts.” While there are a few areas where bus stops are very far apart (Routes 39/110 on Columbia Park Trail is one example), putting bus stops closer together is not a very good idea. Most agencies have stop spacing in the range of 750-1200 ft, though there are extreme exceptions to this. (San Francisco comes to mind…) The closer the stops, the more stop-and-go the bus does, the more fuel used, the more time needed for the schedule, and so on. In a quick survey of my primary route, Route 41, the average spacing is ~1000 feet. In Richland, there is a spot on Route 23 where there are two stops only 236 feet apart.
Lastly, the 2010 BFT Audit, done by the Washington State Auditor’s Office, was covered. There were two discrepancies found by the office. While BFT responded immediately and properly, the findings do put a bit of a black mark on BFT’s financials. I was able to get a full copy of the report along with the board packet, but for those interested, here’s the general summary of the report: http://www.sao.wa.gov/findings/1006463.pdf
To end the meeting, the board held an executive session in regards to the issues with G2 Construction. As these are held behind closed doors, the viewing public had to leave. Ever since I started attending the board meetings, an executive session hasn’t been held, so it was a little bit weird. At next month’s board meeting, when the minutes from this month’s are approved, hopefully I’ll be able to see just what was said.
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