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Ah The Joys of the Rumor Mill: Is MTA Head Nathaniel Ford Headed to the Obama Administration?

Gosh, you try and post a "things will be ok" post, and then you read the news....whilst scanning the Chronicle's "City Insider" blog, a rumor I'd heard a few weeks ago made its way onto the blog - that SFMTA chief Nathaniel Ford may be headed to the Obama Administration.

My first reaction was "uh...WHAT?" I mean, really. Take someone from a city of less than a million people and put them in charge of the Federal Transit Administration? And you know, aren't there like a million blogs and so on about MUNI? Yeah, THAT'LL fly.

Cynical blog jabs aside, I think it'd be a mistake for Ford to leave, if only because it takes a while for anyone to take over a massive bureaucracy and turn it around, and only now has Mr. Ford seemed to reach a point where he's got more of a handle on what ails MUNI, and to try and fix it. Leaving now, mid contract, would be a bit of a slap in the face to the City and the MTA, but also ensure that we'd lose several years of progress trying to kick MUNI into shape (after a long search, a vetting process, an approval, more money spent on a big employment contract, that new guy or gal getting up to speed, etc. etc. etc.).

In the end, these kinds of rumors swirl around in all of the nation's cities as everyone's Local Guy or Gal is touted as the Next Appointment to the administration (remember all those rumors about our DA becoming Attorney General of the United States??) We'll see.

Frankly, it's more important to see what Obama's Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood will do, especially when it comes to this stimulus package. LaHood's record on transportation issues, especially for cities is mixed: he is a member of the Congressional Bike Caucus, and not a member of the Congressional "All Mass Transit Is Evil and Must Be Killed" Caucus the GOP set up a while back. However, it's not clear if DOT will just be the "build some roads, anywhere, just to build something" agency, or take a more balanced approach. We'll see...

Photo Credit: Flickr User Jamison

Comments

I'm sure a lot of people reading this rumor are thinking, "good riddance, Ford's failed to fix Muni" but as you said, a giant bureaucracy doesn't turn around overnight and Muni has steadily gotten better under Nat Ford.

Not nearly as far as we'd like, but long term improvements don't happen overnight and we've come along way since the disastrous opening of the T-Line (there are 20-25% more trains in working condition now). Some changes are just now taking effect like staffing up drivers and the recently hired fare inspectors are only now starting to make their way onto the bus lines.

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