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Chicago City Wire

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Metra Board of Directors met March 21.

By Lhalie Castillo | Jun 6, 2018

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Metra Board of Directors met March 21.

Here is the minutes provided by the Board:

Roll Call:

Members Present: R. Craig, D. DeGraff, A. Holt, K. Koehler, S. Messerli, S. Palmer, J. Plante, J. Zediker, and Chairman Carlson

Members Absent: R. Brown

Safety Briefing:

Bill Green, Safety Officer, opened the meeting with a safety briefing.

Public Comment:

Michael Rummel, representing Lake County Partners, discussed reverse commute in the afternoon from Lake Forest to City of Chicago residents. A number of companies in Lake Forest have emphasized the need for trains to take employees from Lake Forest to their homes in Chicago. Chairman Carlson and the Directors asked Mr. Rummel to come back and make a presentation at our April Board Meeting regarding reverse commute.

Garland Armstrong, representing Access Living, discussed again pedestrians going across signals at Arlington Heights and that stations needed more police officers.


1.Approval of the Minutes from the Board Meeting of February 21, 2018

Director DeGraff moved and Director Plante seconded approval of the Board meeting minutes of February 21, 2018. With a roll call vote, the motion carried unanimously. Director DeGraff obstained and Director Brown was not present.

Consent Agenda:

2. Capital Procurements from February 21, 2018, through March 20, 2018

A-1 Contract for Valves and Repair Kits

A-2 Contract for Railroad Cross Ties

A-3 Contract for Concrete Grade Crossing Material

3. Operating Procurements from February 21, 2018, through March 20, 2018

B-1 Contract for HVAC Parts

B-2 Contract for Propulsion Parts

B-3 Contract for Toilet Parts

B-4 Contract for SAFTE-Fast Software Upgrade and Support

4. Construction Services To Renovate Metra's Rock Island District 47TH Street Facility/49th Street Building

5. 2018 Capital Program Amendment

Chairman Carlson asked if there were any items anyone wanted to pull for discussion. Director Koehler pulled Item A-2 for discussion. Director Koehler asked if shipping was included in the procurement costs. Mr. Derwinski stated yes, shipping is always included in the cost of the item.

Lynnette Ciavarella, Sr. Division Director of Strategic Capital Planning, discussed Item #5, 2018 Capital Program Amendment. The RTA notified Metra that it was reallocating $86,508 Urbanized Federal funds from the Wisconsin portion of the Round Lake Beach urbanized area to Metra and Metra would utilize these funds for Positive Train Control.

Bruce Marcheschi, Chief Engineering Officer, discussed Item #4, Construction Services to Renovate Metra's Rock Island District 47th Street Facility/49th Street Building. F. H. Paschen, S. N. Nielsen & Associates, LLC was the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. This award provides for various renovations to Metra's Rock Island District 47th Street Facility/49th Street Building, including: 1) expansion of the 49th Street Mechanical Coach Shop Facility; 2) reconfiguration of loading dock area adjacent to the existing 47th Street Diesel Shop adding an enclosed crane; 3) upgrading the 49th Street Coach Shop capital storage, loading dock, and truck rebuild areas; 4) reconstruction of the existing 47th Street Capital Project Material Storage Building; and 5) various overall yard layout improvements (parking, drainage, utility work, etc.). Expansion of these facilities will allow the Mechanical Department to increase its output of overhauled locomotives and passenger rail cars thereby moving towards a state of good repair.

After discussion of all items Director Koehler moved and Director Plante seconded. With a roll call vote, the motion carried unanimously. Director Brown was not present.

6. Resolution Approving 2019 Metra Board Meeting Schedule

Receive And File Reports

7. Corporate Website Activity Report for February 2018

8. Management Personnel Report for February 2018

9. Metra Capital Procurements of $500,000 and Under for January 2018

10. Metra Operating Procurements of $500,000 and Under for January 2018

11. Office of Diversity & Civil Rights Activity Report for February 2018

12. Real Estate Report for February 2018

13. Ridership Trends Report for January 2018

14. Commuter Rail System On-Time Performance Report for January 2018

15. Preliminary Revenues and Ridership Report for February 2018

No discussion ensued on the Receive and File Reports.

16. Deputy Executive Director - Operations, State Of Metra Operations Report

Pete Zwolfer, Deputy Executive Director of Operations, reported that February 2018 on-time performance was 92.3%. There were 1,189 delays with 46% between 6-10 minutes and 20% between 11-15 minutes. Weather and Signal/switch failure topped the list for delay occurrences. There were 32 primary mechanical delays; 19 were locomotives and 13 were coaches.

17. Monthly Financial Report

Tom Farmer, Chief Financial Officer, discussed the financials. Fares were $0.4M below budget, Other Revenue $0.3M favorable. Transportation was $1.2M favorable, largely vacancies due to no new training class and in security. Engineering was $0.4M favorable due to vacancies and materials. Mechanical was ($1.2M) unfavorable, mainly material. Admin was $1.8M under budget. Fuel was $1.4 million over budget. Metra Electric Power $0.1M over budget; Claims and Insurance $0.6M under budget.

2018 funding marks were $406M, current estimate $400M. If the state keeps the 10% PTF cut and cuts its ADA contribution, we forecast $396M. Our plan has actions in place for a drop to $400M. In budget discussions, we said a drop to $396M would require further action, which we are preparing for. Two scenarios were presented. The first said if costs increase for inflation and PTC, with no offsets (fares, efficiencies, etc.) we would go from putting $20m into Metra Farebox Capital to pulling $16M from Capital to support operations. A second scenario assumed $9M of efficiencies in 2019, $5M in 2020, 0.25 fare increase each year, making Farebox Capital in 2019 positive $5M and negative in 2020.

10-15 years ago, Metra diverted money from capital to operating. The passage of Sales Tax II alleviated this for two years. The practice ended with a 25% fare increase in 2012.

We have economic issues which are deteriorating our sales tax base: 1) the shift to a service economy; 2) population declining in our state, and 3) the fact that internet sales are taking away from brick and mortar retailers.

We have legislative issues: 1) ADA continues to grow more quickly than sales tax; 2) the 2% surcharge; and 3) the 10% PTF reduction

For 2019 and 2020, we'll continue to have normal cost increases. Based on the last couple years, it is possible funding will remain relatively flat. We need to have plans in place that accommodate reasonable scenarios. We can stitch something together to get us through 2019, but for 2020 we need new ideas, new revenues, or new sources of funding.

18. Transportation Update Report

Marty Ryan, Chief Transportation Officer, presented an overview of the Transportation Department. There are 7 areas that make up Transportation, with 773 employees, 25% of them being women. These 7 areas are: Rules; Stations Services; CCF Dispatch Center and Crew Callers; On-Board Personnel; UP and BNSF PSA; GPS Center and Scheduling & Service Design. Metra's first revenue train departs at 4:15 a.m. and the last train ties up at 2:20 a.m. - resulting basically in a 24-hour operation. Metra's dispatchers coordinate the movement of over 500 passenger trains and more than 100 freight trains daily. Our Crew Callers are responsible for making sure over 300 job assignments are filled each day. Train crews are trained by Metra's Training and Certification Department. To become an engineer, there is a 40-week training program; assistant conductors go through a 14-week training program. Engineers are the Eyes and Ears of the Railroad. Trainmen are the Face of Metra. Collectively, our engineers and trainmen make up approximately 600 employees. The remaining employees are part of Tickets and Station Services, GPS and our Rules Departments. These areas processed and mailed over 600K tickets last year and answered more than 33K customer phone calls. Metra's GPS Center operates 24/7 and is instrumental in keeping our passengers well informed. The Rules Department is responsible for all present rules, along with developing the new Positive Train Control/Operating and Roadway Worker Rules for all of Metra's lines. They represent Metra on the General Code of Operating Rules subcommittee for PTC and together they are writing the rules for the entire railroad industry. Metra's Schedule & Service Design area successfully implemented the first ever overhaul of the Metra Electric line schedule and is working on future schedule changes due to the implementation of PTC.

19. CEO/Executive Director Report

Jim Derwinski, CEO/Executive Director reported on March 8 it was International Women's Day, which dates back from 1909. On February 22, we were honored to have Senate Minority Leader Richard Durbin tour our 49th Street shops and rehab program. On February 23, Mr. Derwinski participated in the Battle of the Bids, 20th Annual Transportation Symposium and Business Exchange, specifically aimed at transit-related businesses including construction companies, professional service firms, manufacturers, architects/engineers and suppliers. Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE's), Minority Owned Business Enterprises (MBE's), Women Owned Business Enterprises (WOBE's), Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB's) and Small Business Enterprises (SBES), all of which are strongly encouraged to attend and obtain valuable information regarding the best way to seek transit agency contracts. Sponsored by the RTA and supported by CTA, Metra, Pace, IDOT and the Illinois Tollway. This event teaches small businesses, DBE's and Women owned businesses how to successfully compete in the bid process. Innovative. On March 14, he attended the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association. HACIA awards, which provides the tools necessary to seize and succeed at new business opportunities. On March 17-19 Mr. Derwinski attended APTA Legislative Conferences in Washington DC. On March 19, Metra put out proposed BNSF schedule adjustments. Reasons why Metra has to do this is 1) PTC on trains will require extra time to set up the breaks for a “flip" and 2) Metra took this opportunity to review the current schedule. Metra will be receiving comments from the public until the middle of April. At 11th Place on the MED, we have signalized the interlocker. On April 23rd, with schedule adjustments to the MED because of PTC, we will be eliminating one train.

20. New Business - There is no new business to report.

21. Adjourn

Director Zediker moved and Director Plante seconded to adjourn the meeting. The motion carried unanimously.

Board adjourned at 12:32 p.m.

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Metra Board of Directors