Jeffrey Tumlin hopes to regain riders’ trust



The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s newest Director of Transportation is hoping to bring the agency up to speed by fast-tracking safety projects and hiring more bus drivers.
Mayor London Breed on Wednesday announced Jeffrey Tumlin has been selected by the SFMTA’s Board of Directors to serve as Transportation Director, ending a long search for a new agency leader.
“As our city grows, as our economy grows, as we build more housing, as more people work here, we know that we can’t continue to grow in those areas without thinking about improvements to our public transportation system,” Breed said, standing alongside Tumlin at City Hall. “We need to do better.”
Tumlin said, “I’ve long been a rather outspoken proponent of changing core practices in my industry and using the power we have in transportation to reduce climate change, improve the quality of life, foster small business success and advance equity.”
Tumlin, a 25-year-long resident of San Francisco, currently works as a director of strategy at San Francisco-based transportation planning and engineering firm Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates. Prior to that, he served as interim director of transportation at the Oakland Department of Transportation.
“It is my job first to listen and then secondly, and importantly, to remove obstacles so that they can do their good and productive work,” he said.
Over the last year, the agency has faced several high-profile challenges, including ongoing traffic safety issues and a shortage of Muni bus drivers. Additionally, the agency has faced criticism for taking longer than expected on projects like the Van Ness Improvement Project and the Central Subway.
“We know that we have some trust to rebuild,” Tumlin said. “And trust rebuilding can only happen by demonstrating.”
With 25 people killed in traffic collisions in the city this year alone, Tumlin said he’s hoping to look closer at smaller safety projects along the city’s most dangerous intersections and figure out how to deliver them on time.
Additionally, he said he’ll work with the agency’s human resources department to hire more Muni operators and look for ways to increase their wages.
“I want to have conversations about how do we make sure that we are paying every SFMTA employee a living wage so that once again the SFMTA can be not only a desirable place to work, but a place where you can afford to raise a family in San Francisco,” he said.
Tumlin replaces former transportation director Ed Reiskin, who announced back in April that he was stepping down.
Tom Maguire, the SFMTA’s former Sustainable Streets Division director, will continue to serve as the agency’s interim leader until Tumlin starts on Dec. 16.