Streetscast: An Interview with New SFMTA Chief Ed Reiskin

Photo: Bryan Goebel

One thing seemed clear about Ed Reiskin at today’s press conference announcing that he has been chosen to lead the SFMTA: he gets it.

As someone who has not owned a car since 1991, Reiskin understands that reducing the city’s dependence on automobiles requires a safe and reliable transit system, comfortable, dignified bikeways for cyclists of all ages, and an inviting pedestrian realm that encourages more San Franciscans to walk.

Transit advocates are excited by Reiskin’s potential. While it’s too early to tell if he’ll be as bold as Janette Sadik-Kahn, we do know that he has met the New York City DOT Commissioner on several occasions, and has said that she is an inspiration. If New York can build out over 250 miles of new bike lanes in three years, why can’t San Francisco do something similar?

One of the problems with former SFMTA Chief Nathaniel Ford was he wasn’t willing to take risks. Reiskin seems like the type of transit chief who will take risks. Here at Streetsblog San Francisco, we’re encouraged by his appointment.

After today’s press conference at SFMTA headquarters, we were granted a short one-on-one interview with Reiskin. We barely touched the surface on some of the major issues the SFMTA is facing but it’s a start. We look forward to having many more conversations with Reiskin after he assumes his role August 15.

  • Evan Goldin

    The guy has “risk” in his name. I think he’ll take risks.

  • Evan Goldin

    The guy has “risk” in his name. I think he’ll take risks.

  • mikesonn

    Sadly, you have to bow to the CS alter to hold any post within the city so I won’t hold that against him. However, I often hear how it is impossible for a family to not own a car in SF, I’d love to hear Reiskin speak to that more. Maybe he can inspire a couple upcoming MTA/Muni ads about living car-free with kids in the city. Also, I’d like to see him work with the SF School District when they roll out local schools next school year with safe routes, better speed enforcement around schools, and encouraging parents/kids to walk/bike to school.

  • James Figone

    The fact that Ed Reiskin does not own a car is huge. I particularly liked his comment that on time performance may not be the best metric for Muni effectiveness.  Perhaps an overall speed metric would be better, with a goal of 10-12mph average among all lines.  I’m very encouraged by his appointment.  He has his work cut out for him.

  • Anonymous

    One thing the agency has needed (and lacked under Ford) was bold leadership and an ability to transform the morale in the agency. Ford drained the workforce (management and rank and file) of any cheer or positive energy, and we need a leader who isn’t sucking up to the Mayor or to any of the electeds or the special interests to lead the agency in the best interests of those who ride it. Ford was clearly a Newsom apparatchnik who only cared about making money – let’s give the new guy a chance to show what he can do.

  • jon winston

    Meta: May I request that in addition to posting your podcasts in a flash player, could you also past a link to the mp3? That way we can take the clip with us and listen on the bus.