Board of Directors Regular Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 01/22/2020  

SUBJECT MATTER:
Receive, consider and act upon a status of the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) grant for a Park and Ride pilot program route to the Energy Corridor; 
FISCAL IMPACT:
The annual Three-Year Average Cost of the Pilot Service =  $1,208,270
 
Three-year Average Annual Passenger Estimate: 145 Riders
Three-year Average Round Trips per Year:  35,960
Three-Year Average Annual Pilot Fare Recovery:    $467,480
 
Net Three-Year Average Annual Pilot Cost (Less Fare Recovery): $740,790
 
Three-Year Average Annual Pilot CMAQ Grant Funding (80%): $592,632
Three-Year Average Annual Pilot Local Share Funding Requirement (20%): $148,158
 
Three Year Total Local Share Funding Requirement: $444,474
 
The Woodlands Township is not obligated to the full three-year pilot program. The program can be terminated any time during the three year period with thirty day prior written notice.

The Executive Director of the Energy Corridor District recently advised that there is a willingness to recommend the Energy Corridor Board to consider covering 50% of the local share requirement – to be discussed at the Energy Corridor Board Meeting on Friday, January 17, 2020.

Additional information will be provided to the Township Board of Directors at the January 22, 2019, meeting.
BACKGROUND:
In October 2018, the Board authorized staff and consultants to prepare a grant application for the H-GAC Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Commuter and Transit Pilot Program for a route to the Energy Corridor. The Board also directed staff to seek additional funding from regional partners in the Energy Corridor to serve as the local match.  (See Attachments A & B for additional information).
 
On December 28, 2018, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) sent formal notification that they had selected the Township's Energy Corridor commuter transit pilot project for a grant award. As an indication of the high local interest for this service, Township staff began to receive numerous phone calls, social media questions, and emails from both riders and Human Resources departments inquiring as to when the ECD service will be available.
 
In April 2019, Township staff sought additional funding from regional partners in the Energy Corridor to serve as the local match. In January, Township's staff sent solicitation letters to the leadership staff of Energy Corridor area companies. Township staff also met with Energy Corridor District staff to discuss funding partnership options between the organizations. At that time, while interest from the Energy Corridor District remained high, there were no commitments made to support the local match funding commitment.
 
A ridership demand survey was conducted between March and April 2019 to provide more information to the Energy Corridor District and Energy Corridor-based companies about the level of demand for such a service. In July 2019, Township staff initiated an engagement with the staff of H-GAC with the following 3 objectives:
  1. Refine prior cost estimates and confirm possible funding share outcomes given that several months had passed since the CMAQ funds were approved December 2018.
  2. Request relief from the original due date for securing the approved CMAQ Funding (March 2020).
  3. Request H-GAC’s assistance to further improve and refine the quality of ongoing demand assessments by conducting a census-based demand survey. 
The Board of Directors elected not to provide funding for the local match for this project at the August 12, 2019 Budget Planning meeting.
 
On August 20, 2019, H-GAC informed the Township's staff that the revised pilot project’s financial projections was approved. HGAC also agreed to extend the timeline for securing the CMAQ funding and they committed to support Township staff in completing the requested census-based demand survey (Attachment C). 
 
In December 2019, Township staff reinitiated discussions with the new Executive Director of the Energy Corridor District and his team regarding a possible partnership for funding the Local Share requirement. After these engagements, the Township was advised by the Energy Corridor Executive Director that there was a willingness to recommend that the Energy Corridor Board consider covering 50% of the Local Share requirement. Consequently, the Township's staff and HDR will present the CMAQ Pilot program's updated funding estimates to the Energy Corridor Board on Friday, January 17, 2020, with the intent of securing formal funding support.

Please see Attachments D & E for ridership survey results.

Additional information will be provided at the January 22, 2020, Board of Directors meeting.
RECOMMENDATION:
Board to determine course of action regarding the Pilot Suburb-to-Suburb Commuter Bus Service to the Energy District Corridor.  
Attachments
Attachment A - Executive Summary October 2018
Attachment B - Executive Summary April 2019
Attachment C- HGAC CMAQ Cost Recovery
Attachment D - 2019 ECD Survey Results
Attachment E - 2017 ECD Survey Results
Additional Materials_Executive Summary_CMAQ Pilot Program to Energy Corridor_January 22 2020


    

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