Art Torres confirmed as newest member of SFMTA board

Former state Sen. Art Torres is joining the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors after winning approval from the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Supervisors voted unanimously to approved Torres join the powerful board, who is in charge of making policy decisions on Muni, traffic, parking, taxi, pedestrian and bike infrastructure in The City. Torres will replace Tom Nolan’s seat on the SFMTA board.

During the board’s Rules Committee meeting on April 26, Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer had dissented in Torres’ approval because she had not spoken with him in person. Since then, Fewer said she did meet with Torres and approved of his appointment.

During the committee meeting, Torres said he will make a deep commitment to The City’s Vision Zero policy of zero traffic deaths by 2024, after reviewing The City’s collision data, where he said many of the collisions could have been preventable.

Another issue that he had been aware of was Muni switchbacks, where trains turn around before heading to the further transit stops, leaving Muni riders frustrated:

“The switchback issue is one issue that I have been educated about, which I’m concerned about.”

Torres has had a long career in government, serving eight years in the state assembly and 12 years in the state senate. Between 1996 and 2009, Torres served as the chair of the California Democratic Party.

In 2010, former Mayor Gavin Newsom chose Torres to serve on The City’s Public Utilities Commission and was later elected by the commission members to serve as the president in 2012.

Torres currently sits as the vice-chair of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine governing board.

Mayor Ed Lee told SFBay why he nominated Torres for position:

“I want somebody who is going to help us make sure that our Municipal Transportation Agency is performing at its best for the ridership, for the traffic congestion, Vision Zero.”