Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Retiring SF MUNI CFO Sonali Bose appears to be a dream hire from the standpoint of transit riders

The San Francisco Chronile reports ("Muni CFO Sonali Bose departs, creating another challenge for SF’s transit agency") on the retirement of Sonali Bose, the Chief Financial Officer of the SF MUNI transit system, one of the most highly used city-only transit systems in the US.  From the article:
The woman who doubled the budget of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency — replacing the junked buses of the past with a splashy new fleet — is heading out the door, creating a new challenge for an agency that is struggling to gain public trust. ...

Some call her a political fixer: the rare transit bureaucrat who urged her allies to chair commissions and lined up votes for the policies she wanted. Others deem her a truth-teller: the woman in a blazer and a cotton dress who gamely criticized mayors and department heads when she thought they made bad decisions. Most people praise her for fixing the budget of a $1 billion agency that was in disarray before she arrived.

Sonali Bose was inspired to “get into (SFMTA) and figure out what the hell is going on” after buses passed her while she waited at a stop one day in 2003. Photo by Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle

“When I walked in, I went, ‘Whoah,’” Bose, 60, said. “It was 2006, and the agency was starved of talent and resources. The budget was about half what it is today.”

Over the next 12 years, she raised the SFMTA’s credit rating to be the highest of any transit agency in the country. She oversaw a new parking program that adjusts rates at meters and garages to match demand. She helped fund the biggest increase in Muni bus and rail service that San Francisco has ever seen and increased the revenue from the agency’s advertising contracts from $400,000 to $30 million. ...

“She wasn’t just a CFO — she was this tireless, in-your-face advocate for the SFMTA,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, chair of the Transportation Authority, the body that makes decisions on sales tax spending and some projects.

“She was the kind of person who would text me in the middle of a Transportation Authority meeting, either berating me or provoking new thoughts,” Peskin said. “She did not allow her behavior to be boxed in politically or financially.”

He and others called Bose a “guiding force” who fought relentlessly to improve the financial situation at the SFMTA, and who saw results.

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