Some sad news from the SFMTA today. SFMTA Board Director Cameron Beach died last night after apparently suffering a heart attack. A semi-retired transportation consultant and former chief operating officer of the Sacramento Regional Transit District, Beach was 62. He had served just over four years on the SFMTA Board.
A San Francisco native who grew up riding Muni, Beach was a respected transportation professional who knew the ins and outs of transit operations. We did a lengthy interview with him recently because he was being considered for reappointment to the SFMTA Board.
“I have always viewed issues from the user’s point of view. How is the passenger or the motorist or the person looking for a parking place or the bicyclist or the pedestrian going to perceive our action?” Beach told us about his tenure on the SFMTA Board.
Before his appointment to the SFMTA Board in 2007, Beach served on the board of the Market Street Railway where he met his wife, Carmen Clark, a former Muni and San Francisco County Transportation Authority official, said Rick Laubscher, a close friend and the head of the non-profit preservation group.
“Cam Beach’s loss to this city is hard to overestimate. He loved Muni more than anyone I ever knew — not for what it was, because he knew its shortcomings all too well — but for what it could be, in terms of serving riders properly and empowering mobility in his native city,” Laubscher wrote in a comment on Streetsblog. “Most people in this town have NO idea how entrenched the problems at Muni are — how much effort it takes to turn that ship even a little. Cam pulled hard at that rudder throughout his tenure on the SFMTA board. He will truly be missed, not only by his many friends, but by the riding pubilc, whose interests he so strongly represented.”
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a close friend and colleague, who had an unparalleled passion for Muni, our customers and the future of this system,” said SFMTA Board of Directors Chair Tom Nolan. “Director Beach has been a pillar of transit expertise and insight on our board and it has been a privilege to know and work with him over these years.”
“I’ve known Director Beach for decades, and his strong passion for public transit has made significant improvements to the industry,” said SFMTA Chief Nathaniel Ford. “His transit expertise will not only be missed here in San Francisco but across this nation. Our heartfelt condolences are with his family during this time.”
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Cameron Beach,” Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement. “Cameron firmly believed in our City’s Transit First Policy and made our transit system work for pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and transit riders. His family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers today as we mourn the loss of a true San Franciscan.”
According to his bio on the SFMTA website, Beach’s career in transportation spanned more than four decades.
He also worked for a class one railroad, private bus charter and leasing firm, and an airline. In addition, he has started up and managed local, suburban and intercity bus services as well as light rail and heritage streetcar operations. His committee and board memberships include serving as Chair of California Operation Lifesaver, Past Chair of the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Light Rail Committee and Vice Chair, APTA Committee on Public Safety, and Member of the APTA Alternate Fuels Committee, APTA Heritage Streetcar Subcommittee, and APTA Light Rail Transit Technical Forum.