After an unfortunate week full of broken down trains, understaffing, and defective doors, the leader of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced his plan to resign. Ed Reiskin sent an email to employees of the SFMTA Monday morning announcing he’d step down from his position in August, when his contract ends.
Reiskin was appointed SFMTA director in 2011, and it’s no small task; he manages an operating budget of around $1 billion per year, and is responsible for 5,000 employees. It’s a stressful job, but he’s paid handsomely (and notably, more than the mayor), pulling in $405,747.30 in 2017. Before becoming SFMTA director he was the head of the city’s Department of Public Works.
Mayor London Breed addressed the search for a new transportation director press conference on Monday afternoon, saying she looked forward to working with the SFMTA Board during the transition. Reiskin’s announcement succeeded a letter from Breed that called for a national search to replace him.
“It’s important that we do a comprehensive search, that we really, aggressively seek out the best and the brightest,” Breed said in the Mayor’s Office. “The goal is to find a visionary leader who is prepared to really run this department and lead this department in a way that will restore the trust in our transit system in San Francisco.”
Breed’s frustration with the Reiskin has been building for some time. She cited Reiskin’s inadequate response to what’s known as the summer’s Muni meltdown stemming from tunnel repairs and operator shortage, sexual harassment allegations, and faulty train doors in her letter on Monday.
“What’s important to see in anyone who’s a leader of a major department, especially centered around transit, it’s important to make sure that we have contingency plans,” Breed continued. “Clearly the change has not been significant enough and now it’s time to move on.”
The mayor said she would be pushing for someone who “understands the bigger picture” of a robust public transportation system, especially as the city adapts to growing job opportunities and population.
Breed also indicated that the changes may not stop at Reiskin, with more mayoral appointments to the SFMTA Board coming up. Amanda Eaken, transportation director for the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council, was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors in September after Breed appointed her.
This story has been updated with Breed’s remarks.