TAC Meeting Minutes for May 20, 2014


FAIRFAX COUNTY TRANSPORTATION ADVISORY COMMISSION (TAC)
Meeting Summary

Regular MeetingMay 20, 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), Secretary Roger Hoskin (Mason), Kevin Morse (Braddock), Mike Champness (Dranesville), and Eric Thiel (Springfield).

TAC Members in Abstance: Edson Tennyson (At Large), Harry Zimmerman (Lee), Micah Himmel (Providence), Frank Cohn (Mt. Vernon), and Ann Pimley (Fairfax Area Disability Board).

Others in Attendance: FCDOT staff: Calvin Lam, Randy White, Paul Mounier, Dwayne Pelfrey; Jim Wensley (TranSystems) and Lora Byala (Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning).

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Parnes at 7:35 p.m. The minutes of the last meeting were unanimously approved.

Note Taker:  Jenifer Joy Madden


Main Topics Discussed

Fairfax County Comprehensive Transit Plan and Transit Development Plan Update

FCDOT is preparing two documents: (1) the Comprehensive Transit Plan (CTP) and (2) the Transit Development Plan Update (TDP).

The CTP compares current bus service to travel patterns and needs and also recommends service and facility adjustments to meet ten-year demand. It is a fiscally unconstrained plan of prioritized improvements for the period between 2016 and 2025.

Meanwhile, the DRPT requires that the county to update the TDP every 6 years. The TDP is a blueprint for bus service and related capital improvements from 2016 to 2021, constrained to anticipate revenues.

FCDOT staff member Randy White introduced consultants on the project: Jim Wensley of TranSystems and Lora Byala, Deputy Project Manager of Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning. WBA Research will do data collection, surveys, ridership counts, etc.

Mr. Wensley explained that the Comprehensive Transit Plan will look at current and planned bus service including that planned to serve the Silver Line in Phase I and Phase II, the Tysons Circulator Study, the Route 7 Corridor Alternatives Analysis, the Route 1 Multimodal Analysis, WMATA Bus Line Studies, the Countywide Transit Network Study (including the Study’s enhanced public transportation corridors) and the Super NOVA Transit Vision Plan.

Current work on the CTP is in the data-gathering phase, reviewing past and current studies, demographic data, ridership and forecast data. A sampling of county residents will be surveyed by phone and online. Stakeholder outreach will include the BOS, the Planning Commission, county executives, and the towns of Fairfax, Vienna, Herndon, as well as the TAC.

In the 2nd phase, consultants will develop service recommendations and improvement plans for Metrorail feeder service, more cross-county routes, connections to nearby jurisdictions, service frequency and hours adjustments, and a Silver Line Phase 2 bus plan.

Phase I outreach to the public will occur after the Silver Line opens. Service planning will follow between October and next March. A second round of public outreach will occur in Spring 2015, after which consultants will prepare recommendations in anticipation of completed the CTP by fall 2015, which is also when the TDP Update is expected to be completed.

County residents will be encouraged to provide input via the county website and through IdeaScale crowdsourcing. Pop-up outreach will occur at public events, including two transit locations and two festivals. There will be six general public workshops, as well as meetings with community-based organizations. Meetings will also be arranged with community groups which represent minority and low income populations. Some informational advertising will be presented in non- English speaking media. Consultants may also reach out to large employee groups or companies.

Consultants gave TAC members the following list of questions which due to staff by the 2nd week of June:
1. What do you see as the biggest issues facing public transportation in Fairfax County?
2. Where do you think more bus service is needed? Less? Better?
3. Are there particular destinations in Fairfax County that need better bus access?
4. Are there missing connections to any destinations or other transit services outside Fairfax County?
5. Does the bus service provide the right balance between serving local trips within the County and providing bus access to Metrorail?
6. Do the hours of bus service (weekdays and weekends) meet the needs of County residents, employers and businesses?
7. Are there particular groups of riders or potential riders in the County who are not being adequately served?
8. In addition to better bus service, are there other things that would make it easier to use Fairfax Connector and/or Metrobus?
a. Park and Ride lots?
b. Bus stop amenities?
c. Real-time information?
d. Other suggestions:
9. Other thoughts?

Following the consultants’ presentation, TAC members had the following questions and discussion:
• When asked why there are two plans, Mr. Wensley answered they do not compete: the TDP is a 10 year prioritization plan and the Comprehensive Transit Plan is a 6 year plan program to program funds.
• One TAC member pointed out that bus transportation should be framed as an attractive and useful travel option or people won’t tend to listen or participate.
• When asked about whether the CTP will be pro-active about encouraging bus usage, county staff answered that is out of the realm of the project, but they are asking in surveys what would entice people to take the bus.
• When asked whether the next generation of buses will include WiFi, county staff responded that the average trip length doesn’t justify the cost of WiFi service, but the county does have a contract for Connector to have computer-aided dispatch and bus location so services can be monitored in real time to aid customers in tracking bus arrivals. When one TAC commissioner pointed out that WiFi on buses would be especially helpful in counting riders, consultants answered that the new technology system will do that.
• When told that the study will not specifically include ways to make it easier for riders to find buses and get on them and keep track of them, TAC members suggested an annex to the plan to improve bus awareness and usage.
• It was suggested that consultants study demographic maps, not only those depicting aging and disabled populations, but also using health data to indicate areas of obesity and diabetes, which are often correlated with a need for better bus service.
• One TAC member suggested that the Plan make recommendations that can be generally applied to county activity centers.

TAC members should return the list of consultants’ questions to staff before the next meeting.

Fairfax County Transit Riders Advisory Committee (TRAC)

In June 2013, the BOS tasked its Transportation Committee to explore the formation of a Transit Riders advisory group. County staff members Paul Mounier and Dwayne Pelfrey presented research into the idea, explaining that most transit services have a rider committee or council, some of which cover both bus and rail transit. For instance, WMATA has a Riders Advisory Council; Arlington County has a Transit Advisory Committee. There are some Title VI requirements regarding diversity among advisory committees but there are no specific stipulations in the state code. The typical purpose of a transit advisory group is to provide input and advice to a governing board (in our case, the BOS) from the rider’s perspective. Members usually include transit riders.

County staff recommends that the name of the County’s advisory committee would be the Transit Rider’s Advisory Committee, or TRAC. The mission of TRAC would be “to provide input on a broad range of issues that affect the Fairfax Connector bus service.” The purpose of TRAC: “to represent riders’ perspectives.”

The proposed composition of the TRAC would consist of 14 members, with one from each magisterial district, plus one from the Disabilities Services Board, one from TAC and three at-large members to be nominated by the BOS Chair.

Recruitment of members would be coordinated by county staff. Membership should be representative of county demographics of the county and could include non-transit users.

The next step is for staff to return to the BOS Transportation Committee for further discussion.

County staff would also like TAC members to respond to the following questions:

1. Is there a role for the TRAC? How would you define that role?
2. How would the TRAC’s purpose differ from the TAC’s purpose? Where would the roles overlap?
3. How would the TRAC and TAC interact? Would they present joint recommendations to the Board?

Discussion:
• The word “transit” is confusing. If this is to be a bus advisory group the word “Bus” should be used in the title. BRAC is a possible acronym unless it would be better to indicate in the title that the group will be advising specifically about Fairfax Connector.
• There was discussion about whether 3 at-large members are necessary and that perhaps they could be called in on an as-needed basis.
• One member wondered whether a BRAC is even needed considering the already long list of county (80+) advisory commissions.
• Another TAC member suggested that the group should be open to more people and perhaps should not be a typical committee in order to get input from more riders.
• It was suggested that before deciding on a specific structure for the committee, the county should get input from residents, perhaps in an open-mike setting, and talk to bus riders in each district. Also suggested to talk to the BOS and the TAC before setting up a legal commission.
• When asked whether the county could inquire about this in the CTP meetings in the fall, staff answered that it is important to BOS that customers have to have more ways to provide input.
• One member suggested that any bus advisory committee should be tried as an experiment before making it a permanent entity.
• There was discussion about whether the TAC itself should incorporate the bus advisory group.
• There was concern that too many advisory groups might be confusing to the BOS so need coordination, perhaps through the TAC.
• One TAC member questioned the continued usefulness of the TAC if other committees have been formed to cover Trails and Sidewalks and now bus service.
• One member stated that the county needs three coordinated citizen advisory groups: one specifically concerned with pedestrian travel, one for cycle travel and one for bus transportation.

Following the discussion, Chair Parnes told staff that TAC would take the creation of a bus-specific advisory group under consideration and get back with a response. TAC members should provide answers to the staff’s questions to staff before the next meeting.

Time will be devoted at the next TAC meeting for discussion of a possible future TRAC.

Feedback from the Previous TAC Meeting:

In the review of Route 7 Improvement Projects presentation, one member asked why the widening of Route 7 within the Tysons urban core was not included and stated that TAC should also be briefed on that.

There was no feedback on the county’s legislative agenda.

Other Business

Joint meeting with Trails and Sidewalk Committee: The T&S Committee recently reached out to invite Chair Parnes and Vice Chair Madden to attend one of their meetings, and Vice Chair Madden was able to attend. It was agree that the TAC and T&S would share agendas in the future. T&S members indicated they may be interested in attending TAC meetings.

Vice Chair Madden suggested that TAC host a meeting with T&S to view a video of the keynote address from the county’s Active Transportation Summit given by nationally-known Walkable Communities expert, Mark Fenton. Chair Parnes said TAC could host on August 5. At that time, TAC members would like to also ask T&S to discuss the purpose and activities of their group.

Seven Corners: One TAC member asked for a briefing on the Seven Corners revitalization project.

TAC Officer Election: Chair Parnes pointed out that TAC is directed to elect new officers each new session and if anyone is interested in serving in a leadership position or wants to nominate someone for a position, please inform Calvin.

Chair Parnes asked Calvin to ensure that TAC be included in any activities associated with the opening of the Silver Line.

Topics for Future Meetings:

• June 17, 2014:
    -  Preliminary Evaluation of Taxicab Fare Increase – Susan Hafeli (DCCS)
    -  Preparation for 2014 Bond Referendum – Todd Wigglesworth (FCDOT)
• July 15, 2014: Bike Master Plan – Charlie Strunk, FCDOT
• August 19, 2014: Wayfinding/Signage – Randy Dittberner, VDOT
• September 16, 2014: Countywide Transit Network Study and Route 1 Multimodal Alternatives Analysis – Tom Burke (FCDOT)
• October 21, 2014: Comprehensive Plan and Transportation 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)
• November 18, 2014: Comprehensive Plan and Transportation staff and Planning Commission discussions with TAC on how planning for areas currently planned for future rail stations reflects the designation of the areas as future rail stations.
• December 16, 2014: CTB Determination of Corridor of Statewide Importance through Loudoun/Prince William Counties

Closing and Adjournment

Adjourned: The meeting was adjourned as 9:50 p.m.

Upcoming Events:

June 10, 2014                    3:00 pm         Board Transportation Committee Meeting
September 16, 2014        10:00 am        Board Transportation Committee Meeting
December 9, 2014           10:00 am        Board Transportation Committee Meeting

 

Upcoming Meetings:

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)

August 5, 2014                      7:30 pm              TAC Work Session (FCDOT)
August 19, 2014                    7:30 pm              TAC Regular Meeting (FCDOT)

September 2, 2014               7:30 pm             TAC Work Session (FCDOT)
September 16, 2014             7:30 pm             TAC Regular Meeting (FCDOT)

October 7, 2014                     7:30 pm             TAC Work Session (FCDOT)
October 21, 2014                   7:30 pm             TAC Regular Meeting (FCDOT)

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

December 2, 2014                 7:30 pm             TAC Work Session (FCDOT)
December 16, 2014               7:30 pm             TAC Regular Meeting (FCDOT)

 


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