07/21/2011 01:07 pm ET Updated Sep 20, 2011

Ed Reiskin Named New SFMTA Director

San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency board Chairman Tom Nolan named Ed Reiskin as head of San Francisco's transit agency in a press conference Thursday morning.

Reiskin has previously held a number of high-level positions throughout city government. He currently runs the Department of Public Works and, before that, was the first Director of the city's 311 Customer Service Center. Prior to his moving to San Francisco, Reiskin served Interim City Administrator, as well as the Deputy Mayor, for Washington, D.C..

Flanked by Supervisors David Chiu and Scott Weiner, as well as City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Nolan said, "Reiskin will give a thoughtful look at the system as someone coming in from the outside."

A regular Muni rider and avid cyclist, Reiskin is a popular figure around City Hall and the assembled public officials heaped praise on the incoming transit chief. Weiner called the choice "inspired" and Chiu said, "Today, the future of transportation in San Francisco is brighter."

San Francisco Bike Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum, who was also present at the conference, concurred. "We like Ed," she said.

Mayor Ed Lee was not able to attend; he is currently serving on jury duty.

Reiskin himself said he is fully committed to making transit work for all San Franciscans. "People should be able to hop on a train, bus or cable car and know it's going to get them where they need to go safely and efficiently," he said. "I want people to want to ride Muni."

SFGate reports:

Reiskin has agreed to a three-year contract, and will be paid $294,000 annually, the source said. That's nearly $15,000 a year less than the base salary for Nathaniel Ford, who left the agency's top job last month after a 5 1/2-year tenure.

Reiskin's appointment comes at a transitional time for SFMTA. The agency recently settled on a contract with the union representing approximately 2,000 of its operators after an unprecedentedly acrimonious negotiating process that saw the union's rank-and-file rejecting a contract agreed to by its leadership. An independent arbiter later enforced a contract very similar to that one the operators rejected. Implementation of this contraction is likely to be one of Reiskin's foremost priorities.

Only days after the completion of those negotiations, Nat Ford "resigned" as the agency's director with a controversial $384,000 golden parachute in tow.

Widely considered the front-runner for the position, Reiskin is close with Mayor Ed Lee, the one who initially tapped Reiskin to run the city's 311 service. While the official hiring decision was made by SFMTA's governing board, Lee has done little to hide his enthusiasm for Reiskin taking over at the agency.

A combination of the recent resignation of SFMTA Executive Deputy Director Carter Rohan and Nolan's decree that the agency's next director be a local hire made Reiskin a strong favorite to take the agency's reigns.

Streetsblog reports:

City Hall sources who requested anonymity told Streetsblog the SFMTA Board made the decision in closed session Tuesday. Reiskin and acting SFMTA CEO/Executive Director Debra Johnson were the only candidates spotted entering the meeting, and Reiskin emerged all smiles after a one-hour interview, though he would not comment.

Reiskin is scheduled to start at SFMTA on August 15th.