So who will it be? An insider from the County transportation agency? An out-of-towner who knows how to build and manage a large urban transit system? A transit rider.
I am rooting for the transplant with experience and a loaded Metro TAP card. And if he doesn't have a TAP transit card yet, I will offer to buy him one.
I want someone in this critical position who actually rides transit to and from their job at Metro. In fact, in my book everyone in City and County government should ride the bus or train to work at least most of the time. How long do you think it would take LA to build out a comprehensive transit system if this were the case?
Who doesn't remember the Los Angeles Times profile of Mayor Villaraigosa's transportation deputy Jaime de la Vega's commute to City Hall from the West Valley in a Hummer. The former major's right hand man on the Measure R transit initiative went on to serve, briefly, as head of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. He resigned after Mayor Garcetti took office.
Sure, many will gripe how with area housing costs what they are it's just not fair to make city workers take the bus or train to work. That's the point. If Metro, the City Council and the Supervisors practiced what they preached, we would already have the transit system we have needed since long before Henry Waxman and Zev Yaroslavsky put the kibosh on the Subway to the Sea.
What if at least Metro's top brass, the City Council and the Board of Supervisors actually rode the buses and trains they talk about so much? Sure there are some exemplary types. Councilman Mike Bonin regularly rides the bus from his home on the West Side to City Hall. And Councilman Joe Busciano from San Pedro tried. See his sobering film of his two plus hour bike and transit trip to the office on YouTube. It deserves an Oscar.
The good news is, we're getting a new CEO at Metro and we now have a Mayor who rides the bus as well as talks the transit talk.
And if Metro does the right thing, we will be getting a CEO who is proud to say that "he became very familiar with community challenges and public transportation as a transit-dependent rider" and regularly "commutes to work by bus and light rail each day from his home." At least that's what I read on his resume. Now let's do the right thing and fill the job with someone who gets it.
Yours in transit,