TAC Meeting Minutes for February 18, 2014

Meeting Summary

Regular MeetingFebruary 18, 2014 at 7:30 PM – FCDOT, 4050 Legato Rd, Fairfax, VA 22033

TAC Members in Attendance: Chairman Jeff Parnes (Sully), Vice Chairman Jenifer Joy Madden (Hunter Mill), Ed. L. Tennyson (At-Large), Secretary Roger Hoskin (Mason), Kevin Morse (Braddock), Mike Champness (Dranesville), Harry Zimmerman (Lee), Frank Cohn (Mt. Vernon), Micah Himmel (Providence), Eric Thiel (Springfield), and Ann Pimley (Fairfax Area Disability Board).

Others in Attendance: FCDOT staff: Leonard Wolfenstein, Todd Wigglesworth, and Calvin Lam; Department of Cable and Consumer Services (DCCS): Steve Sinclair and Susan Hafeli.

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Parnes at 7:35 p.m. The minutes of the December 17, 2013 were unanimously approved. There was no January meeting due to bad weather.

Note Taker:  Ed Tennyson

Main Topics Discussed

Taxicab Permits

Steve Sinclair of DCCS reviewed a PowerPoint presentation on Fairfax County's Overview of Taxicab Rate and Certificate Review Process. Currently there are with 576 certificated taxicabs, one per each 1,942 population. The average taxi trip is 7 miles at an average cost close to $20. There are 23 certificates for wheelchair accessibility. There are 850 licensed taxi drivers moving three million annual passengers who paid $50 million in 2013 for the service. Average wait time was 15 minutes.

Fairfax Yellow Cab owned by Murphy Brothers has 273 cabs, with 11 accessible; Springfield Yellow Cab under Paul Wallace management in Reston, Hendon and the Alexandria section of Fairfax County has 125 cabs with 5 accessible, Red Top owned by Fairfax Taxi has 101 cabs with 4 accessible and White Top owned by L&Z has 67 cabs with 3 accessible by the handicapped.

Fairfax County regulates taxi fares. The Cost Index indicates a 1.7% increase, but drivers requested a fare increase of 19%. An increase of 4.7% was granted in November 2012. The Board of Supervisors will review fares in March 2014.

Wages and other labor costs plus profit took 62% of taxi receipts. Capital investment took 14%, fuel consumed 11%, 8% was consumed by insurance and 5% by maintenance. Taxi regulation includes community outreach and liaison with Arlington and Alexandria. Only certified persons may operate taxicabs. At least 4% of the cabs must be wheelchair accessible. Arlington has 5% accessible cabs, Montgomery County, MD, has 7.9%, and Alexandria only has 2.9%.

The Consumer Protection Commission is kept in contact so that they may make recommendations.
In addition to Fairfax County with 1,942 persons per taxicab, Arlington had a cab for every 281 persons because of National Airport, Alexandria had 191 persons per cab also serving National Airport, and the District of Columbia had a cab for every 91 population. Prince William County, with lower density, had 2,608 persons per taxi.

In 1998, the County Board approved an objective, periodic and quantifiable basis for adjusting the number of taxicabs. County staff uses this formula to develop taxi regulations.

Commissioner Tennyson asked Mr. Sinclair if he could confirm that a generation ago, Alexandria eliminated taxi regulation to create a free market. Mr. Sinclair confirmed this was true. It was agreed that deregulation was chaos and was soon replaced with re-regulation.

The taxicab demand formula analysis is used to estimate the need for more taxis. The average trip per taxi certificate was worth 1.8% more in 2013. The transit and tourism growth rate was worth 2.4%. The population growth rate was worth 1.8% so a six percent increase was justified. Commissioner Pimley raised many questions about the taxicab demand formula (i.e. no bus ridership). Mr. Sinclair responded that to his knowledge, there is no link between bus ridership and demand for taxicab.

The Commission got into a serious discussion of the handling of complaints which officially registered only one per day. It was decided that most complaints go to random offices and no one consolidates them. A better method of consolidating complaints is needed.

The Consumer Protection Commission held a public hearing on November 19, 2013 that recommended that 78 new taxi certificates be awarded with 23 for Yellow Cab, including 9 for wheel chair accessible vehicles; ten for Red Top with one wheel chair accessible; six for White Top and 39 for Enviro Cab with ten wheelchair accessible. This will provide a cab for every 1,758 people with 43 wheel chair accessible cabs at 6.6% of the fleet. Washington Flyer Taxicabs serving Dulles Airport do not serve Fairfax County otherwise.

Commissioner Zimmerman supports priority for cabs for the disabled, but Steve Sinclair was concerned that cab location might often be so far away that priority would be more harmful than helpful.

Chairman Parnes asked Mr. Sinclair for the telephone number for consumers to file a complaint or compliment to be displayed on FCDOT’s web page. He also suggested having that number available to the senior centers and into the Supervisor District’s newsletter. Chairman Parnes thanked Mr. Sinclair and proposed that he come back in a year to report on the progress.

Columbia Pike Street Car Line Progress

Leonard Wolfenstein of FCDOT reported on progress with the Board approved five-mile Columbia Pike Street Car project in Arlington and Fairfax Counties, between Pentagon City Metro Station Fashion Mall and Skyline - Seven Corners. This is now Virginia's busiest bus line with 12,136 weekday passengers in 2013. Columbia Pike lacks capacity for much more travel without an upgrade that will also improve property values. It is proposed to extend the Columbia Pike Street Car through Crystal City to replace and upgrade the proposed BusWay through Crystal City with through Street Car service to Skyline.
The Federal Transit Administration has found that the Columbia Pike Street Car is too large a project to qualify for a small starts grant, so a new application is being prepared to apply for a full size grant. More details must now be developed for the new grant application. Almost 10,000 weekday passengers are expected for the Street Car.

Commissioner Tennyson asked if it was still the plan to operate express buses on Columbia Pike during peak hours to supplement the Street Cars with direct rides from Annandale and Culmore. Mr. Wolfenstein said it was, bringing the total weekday Pike transit ridership to 13,500. Reference was made to the previously reported Route 1 Richmond Highway Transit Center Study. Commissioner Tennyson was concerned that it would be illogical to locate a Transit Center prior to determining what kind of transit Richmond Highway will get.

Topics for Future Meetings:

• March 18, 2014:  One Year Review of I-495 HOT Lanes performance/progress on I-95 lanes construction – Michael McGurk, TransUrban
• April 15, 2014: Legislative Package
• May 20, 2014: Proposed Route 7 Improvements
• June 17, 2014: Bike Master Plan – Charlie Strunk, FCDOT
• July 15, 2014: Wayfinding/Signage – VDOT
• Dulles Rail Field Trip/Update
• Countywide Transit Network Study – Summer 2014
• CTB Determination of Corridor of Statewide Importance through Loudoun/Prince William Counties
• Comprehensive Plan staff and Planning Commission discussions with TAC on what their vision is for future development and any changes in planning and zoning guidelines that may be needed to account for future work environment given the pace and impacts of technology advances (including guest speaker to explain impact of self-driving/smart cars, buses and trucks on traffic, roadways and intersections).

Closing and Adjournment

Adjourned: The meeting was adjourned as 10:05 p.m.

Upcoming Events:

May 6, 2014                 10:00 am         Board Transportation Committee Meeting

Upcoming Meetings:

March 4, 2014                      7:30 pm             TAC Work Session (FCDOT)
March 18, 2014                    7:30 pm             TAC Regular Meeting (FCDOT)

April 1, 2014                         7:30 pm             TAC Work Session (FCDOT)
April 15, 2014                       7:30 pm             TAC Regular Meeting (FCDOT)

May 6, 2014                         7:30 pm             TAC Work Session (FCDOT)
May 20, 2014                       7:30 pm             TAC Regular Meeting (FCDOT)

June 3, 2014                         7:30 pm             TAC Work Session (FCDOT)
June 17, 2014                       7:30 pm             TAC Regular Meeting (FCDOT)

July 1, 2014                         7:30 pm              TAC Work Session (FCDOT)
July 15, 2014                       7:30 pm              TAC Regular Meeting (FCDOT)


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