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SFMTA’s Newest Board Director Anticipates Challenges Ahead

muni-light-rail_1.jpgFlickr photo: Troy Holden.

Now that the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Cheryl Brinkman's nomination at its meeting yesterday as the newest member of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Board of Directors, the real work begins, and Brinkman herself is anticipating the challenges she'll encounter with her first board meeting on September 7th.

Supervisor David Campos applauded both Brinkman for her appointment and Mayor Newsom for nominating her in the first place, which he did after conducting a public application process that saw nearly thirty applicants.

"I think it's a solid appointment, I think she's going to do a fine job and I look forward to working with her," said Campos, though he cautioned the Board still doesn't reflect the diversity of its riders. Despite this, Campos pointed to the outstanding vacancy and said he would work with Newsom to try to address his concern.

SFMTA CEO Nat Ford also lauded Brinkman. "Ms. Brinkman has the experience and dedication to transportation necessary to help further our work in strengthening the service we provide to our customers and to our city. I look forward to working with her as we go forward."

While Brinkman wrote in an email to Streetsblog that she was "thrilled" about her appointment, she wasted no time outlining the issues that were of biggest concern to her, including safety on the streets and engineering solutions to speeding.

I'm very interested in operating efficiencies and safety. As I'vementioned it's difficult to ask the public for more money when theymight feel we're not using what we have wisely. Transit prioritystreets and lanes and reduced dwell time are issues I hear about fromMuni riders.  Increasing safety not just on the bus but on the streetsis another area I'm really interested in. Cities such as York andLondon have realized big savings in spending by reducing speed limits. When you think about the money that must be spent to react to trafficcrashes and the impact on transit and congestion of even an injury-freefender bender, you start to think about how we might make our streetssafer and spend less by reducing speed limits. Money aside, speedkills. London statistics show that since their speed reduction plans, 27fewer Londoners have died from traffic crashes.

When asked her opinion about the news that SFMTA staff had tabled the proposal to turn on meters on Sundays in five commercial areas, Brinkman was cautious.

"My swearing in is on September 1st and my first board meeting will be September 7th. Until the swearing in I'm not officially on the board so I'm hesitant to comment on the Sunday parking meter trials until I know all the facts," she said. "From everything I've read about efficiently managing parking, free, uncontrolled, yet limited parking is rarely a good thing for merchants, and never really free. Someone is paying to provide that free parking."

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