|The Board of Directors tabled this matter at the October 18 meeting for additional information and rescheduled for the October 24 Board of Directors meeting. The item was again deferred for consideration at a future meeting.
The Board of Directors received proposed mobile ticketing policies for The Woodlands Express at their meeting on September 26, 2018. At that time, the Board requested additional information regarding the proposed policies including:
Staff reviewed the history related to the assumption of The Woodlands Express operation including agendas, meeting minutes, meeting videos and contracts to provide understanding and context regarding the issue of accepting BTD tickets. After review, staff could find no record or discussion specifically related to tickets sold by BTD prior to the assumption of the operation by the Township.
- A review of the Township’s assumption and obligations regarding the transfer of the Park & Ride service from Brazos Transit District (BTD);
- A review of the Board of Directors action related to the fare increase implemented in May 2016; and,
- Which policies related to mobile ticketing are required by law and which policies are recommended or required by the vendor and why.
Additionally, staff received additional clarification regarding item 3 above from the Township's Information Technology Department and mobile ticketing vendor.
- Township’s Assumption and Obligations regarding the transfer of the Park & Ride service from BTD (Attachment A):
- Assignment of a contract for park and ride commuter bus services from the Brazos Transit District (BTD) to The Woodlands Township (February 25, 2015 Board of Directors meeting, Agenda Item 17):
- The assignment would allow the Township to assume BTD’s contract in the interim until the new agreement between the Township and First Class Tours took effect on May 1, 2015. Prior to the Township’s assumption of the Park & Ride operation, BTD, the previous provider, contracted with First Class Tours to provide turnkey commuter bus service operations.
- The Board of Directors authorized the President/General Manager to execute and agreement assigning the remainder of the First Class Tours contract to allow the Township to assume the First Class Tours contract for the period January 1, 2015 to April 30, 2015. The Township recently authorized a new five-year contract with First Class Tours effective April 30, 2015.
- Letter of Understanding (LOU) between the Brazos Transit District and The Woodlands Township regarding park and ride operations (February 25, 2015 Board of Directors meeting, Agenda Item 18):
- In 2013, The Woodlands Township entered into an interlocal agreement (ILA) with BTD regarding the operation of The Woodlands Park & Ride facilities. The ILA provided that BTD would continue to provide the operation and maintenance services of the Park & Ride facilities using existing FTA grant funds allocated in 2010 and prior, State transit funds and user fees to support the operation and maintenance costs of the park and rides along with the contract cost of the bus operator. This agreement specified that once these old FTA funds were exhausted, the Township would assume the financial responsibility for the Park & Ride operations. BTD notified the Township in January 2015, that they had exhausted the 2010 (and prior FTA grant funds) available for operations and that The Township would need to assume financial operations for the Park & Ride operation beginning January 1, 2015.
- The LOU under consideration included the following details regarding the Park & ride operation:
- User fees (fares) – all park and ride user fees collections (with supporting documentation), would be remitted to the Township at least weekly.
- Park and Ride Operating costs / Brazos – The operating costs associated with Brazos Transit managing and operating the park and ride facilities will be submitted to The Township on a monthly basis for reimbursement. This operating cost submittal should include appropriate documentation that also meets FTA reimbursement regulations.
- Operating costs / Commuter Bus Operator agreement – The Township will be assuming the commuter bus operator agreement effective January 1, 2015. The Bus Operator will submit their detailed monthly billing directly to The Township with proper documentation that meets FTA reimbursement requirements.
- FTA Grant reimbursement – The Township will process the grant funding applications to FTA based on eligible expenses.
- State Grant Funds – The Township portion of the State Grant Funds will be retained by BTD and applied as a direct credit against costs incurred by BTD for maintaining and operating the park and ride facilities within the Conroe-The Woodlands UZA. This credit will be reflected on the BTD billing invoice to The Township.
- The Township’s Board of Directors authorized the President and General to execute a Letter of Understanding to amend the current ILA by and between The Township and Brazos Transit District.
- Actions related to the fare increase implemented in May 2016:
- Recommendation from the Ad Hoc Transportation Committee regarding a proposed Park and Ride fare increase and other financial matters related to the Park and Ride program (January 27, 2016 Board of Directors meeting, Agenda Item 21):
- Staff presented information related to a financial analysis presented to the Ad Hoc Transportation at its January 13, 2016 meeting which showed that without a fare increase in 2016, sufficient revenue would not be generated by the Park and Ride program to reimburse the Township's Capital Replacement Reserve for monies advanced from the reserve to pay for the Township's share of purchased buses.
- The Board of Directors moved to approve the proposed fare increase which would:
- Propose a Park and Ride fare increase of $1.00/round trip, from $12.00/round trip to $13.00/round trip, effective May 2, 2016, after public comment.
- Extend the period of time to reimburse the Capital Replacement Reserve from five years to 10 years.
- To the extent the Park and Ride program generates revenue in excess of the amount needed to fully fund operating expenditures and to reimburse the Capital Reserve based on a ten year repayment schedule, use such excess revenue to reimburse the Capital Reserve more quickly than ten years.
- Once the Capital Reserve is completely reimbursed, use any excess revenue generated by the Park and Ride program to establish a reserve within the Transportation Fund for the future replacement of buses.
- The item would be brought back to the Board of Directors for final approval in March 2016 following public Comment.
- Public Hearing regarding fare increase for The Woodlands Express (Board of Directors meeting March 27, 2016, Agenda Item 8)
- Held in compliance with statutory requirements and guidance. 49 USC 5307 (c)(1)(l); and, FTA Circular 9030.1E
- There were no public comments offered at the Public Hearing.
- There were 33 public comments submitted electronically, none of which pertained to the continuation or taking BTD tickets.
- The Board of Directors voted to approve the proposed fare increase to be implemented May2, 2016.
Staff conducted an additonal review in coordination with the vendor, Masabi, which provided:
- Which policies are required by law and which policies are recommended or required by the vendor and why.
The proposed policies have been revised (Attachment B). The primary points related to acceptance of paper tickets are:
- Legal requirements – there are no e-commerce legal requirements pertaining to the proposed policies. The requirements are the industry standard “Best Practices” and comply with standard e-commerce financial and risk management practices.
- Recommended Best Practices
- Statement - no agency liability for user phone malfunction or connectivity problems
- Statement - no agency liability for damage or alteration to user equipment
- Tickets cannot be printed and used for travel – related to fraud prevention
- Activation duration – allows enough time for passengers to board and transfer to another bus (if necessary) but not be used as fare media for the second leg of a round trip. Tickets are currently active for 120 minutes based on recommendations from staff and contractor (FCT)
- Agency ability to suspend accounts – related to fraud, passenger behavior, etc.
- Accounts can only be transferred between user devices three (3) times over a period of six (6) months – related to fraud
- Statement - app is provided by the agency at no cost, but that users may incur data usage charges from their mobile carrier
- Vendor recommendations – the following items are recommendations from the vendor
- Ticket expiration – primarily to limit the number of tickets in the “ticket wallet”. Stockpiling tickets affects user experience by slowing down the performance of the app (not vendor servers); also relates to stockpiling of tickets in the event of a fare change (increase or decrease)
- Number of tickets in ticket wallet – affects the performance of the app on the user’s phone (not vendor servers) since the tickets are stored in the app’s “ticket wallet”. This allows tickets to be activated even when the user’s device is not connected to a cellular network or WiFi
- Restriction on number of tickets purchased at once – see previous item
- Industry standards
- Statement - “The Mobile Ticketing platform is fully certified and compliant with Payment Card Industry standards (PCI-DSS). All payment communications are fully encrypted via SSL, and any sensitive data stored is highly encrypted and systems are constantly monitored for security vulnerabilities. The security of Users’ mobile phone or ticket is the responsibility of the User.”
- Cannot be changed – the vendor indicated the following cannot be changed:
- Users must create an account to use the mobile ticketing app
- Tickets must be activated prior to each trip taken. Round trip tickets are provided as two separate one-way tickets
- The Township will continue to sell paper tickets on a single ticket round-trip basis.
- All paper tickets sold by The Woodlands Township can be credited to the mobile ticket virtual wallet at any time.
- Tickets sold and/ or issued by The District, Brazos Transit District, BTD, Montgomery County Park and Ride or other related agencies can be credited to the mobile ticket virtual wallet at any time before June 30, 2019. Any remaining such paper tickets will be accepted by the Township for Woodlands Express service up to December 31, 2019. After that date, no BTD tickets will be accepted or credited for service.
Staff recommends continuing to accept all previously sold paper tickets including those sold by BTD and those sold by the Township through June 30, 2019. At that time, all paper tickets, BTD and/or Township, can be converted to the mobile ticketing virtual wallet. It is recommended to provide a period of six-months until December 31, 2019 for any BTD tickets not yet exchanged to expire.
Another point of concern relates to tickets which expire 180 days from purchase date.
Staff will continue to pursue a point-of-sale solution / ticket dispensing machine for paper fare media to be sold in the terminals.
|Approve the revised policies related to The Woodlands Express including the acceptance all previously sold paper tickets by BTD through June 30, 2019. It is recommended that effective July 1, 2019, all paper tickets, BTD and/or Township, can be converted to the mobile ticketing virtual wallet. It is further recommended to provide a period of six-months from July 1, 2019 until December 31, 2019 for any BTD tickets not yet exchanged to the virual wallet to expire on December 31, 2019.