John Haley.jpg

Muni haters, take a good look at the guy to your right — he’s the new focus for your ire: John J. Haley, the SF MTA’s new Director of Transit who’s “responsible for the overall direction, management and operations of Muni service for San Francisco.”

What? So now Muni’s hiring people? you’re probably asking. OK, here’s the back story: since SF MTA’s Chief Operating Officer, Ken McDonald, abruptly left the agency in August of last year his role’s been filled by David Hill, who was Muni’s Deputy Director of Bus Operations. Since then, the MTA’s reorganized and the position’s now called Director of Transit. And as of last week (and what a week to start work, eh?), Haley’s been on the case, and Hill’s back to Bus Ops.

According to a press release sent out by the MTA, Haley’s a 30 year veteran of the industry, and was most recently Vice-President of Infrastructure and Service Development at the Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) in Houston.

Of course, I ran down my IM list of in-the-know Texas-based journalists to get their take on Haley’s last place of employment, one of whom said “Houston’s public transport is a joke,” and another who said “sorry, not being mean, it’s just, um, unless you clean houses for a living, you don’t know what the Metro is.” (Somebody remind me to get less fancy-pants Texan journo friends.)

Most tellingly, my friend who reports on transit for a major newspaper in the area said “this might be a frying pan/fire situation. Or it just might be another pan.”

Fortunately, Haley has more than the maligned Metro under his belt: the MTA’s release also says he has been “Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, General Manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), (and) Deputy General Manager of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)”

Of course, in this time of Muni budget misery, one does have to ask: what are we paying this guy? According to MTA spokesperson Judson True, Haley’s salary’s $225,038 (True did not respond to a question on if Haley was eligible for bonuses and, if so, what those would be). According to my reporter source (who declined to be named due to their bosses “old media hatred of collaboration”), this is probably a sizable raise for Haley but did note that with our high cost of living and the headaches he’d be walking into “it seems fair enough.”

*said with apologies to all our readers who make $225,039 or more, also, wanna date?

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Matt Baume

    Sometimes it seems like the only people who can afford to live in this city are the people who run it.

  • Matt Baume

    Sometimes it seems like the only people who can afford to live in this city are the people who run it.

  • generic

    He has a sausagey look. Which is either very good or very bad.

  • generic

    He has a sausagey look. Which is either very good or very bad.

  • DT

    Seems the transit industry recycles their management when service gets spectacularly bad.

    Remember that Ford came here from Atlanta right after they outsourced bus operations to Veolia Transportation.

    generic, that looks like hard drinking to me.

  • DT

    Seems the transit industry recycles their management when service gets spectacularly bad.

    Remember that Ford came here from Atlanta right after they outsourced bus operations to Veolia Transportation.

    generic, that looks like hard drinking to me.

  • s5

    If you want to attract upper management, you have to pay upper management salaries. $250k is modest compared to what he could be making in the private sector for equivalent work. It’s a job with a lot of responsibility, and the decisions carry significant consequences to the city’s economy. We should be paying just enough (but not too much) to attract someone qualified.

    The flipside to this, lower salaries tend to attract the rich and disinterested to public service. They can afford to dabble, and they often leave things worse than when they showed up.

    As for this:

    “Houston’s public transport is a joke,” and another who said “sorry, not being mean, it’s just, um, unless you clean houses for a living, you don’t know what the Metro is.”

    All this tells me is that famously underfunded public services in a state known for underfunding public services had a low rate of satisfaction. No surprises there.

    I have no idea if this guy will do a good job or not, just that those two criticisms aren’t grabbing me. I’d rather hear about some of his accomplishments/failures. What’s he done?

  • s5

    If you want to attract upper management, you have to pay upper management salaries. $250k is modest compared to what he could be making in the private sector for equivalent work. It’s a job with a lot of responsibility, and the decisions carry significant consequences to the city’s economy. We should be paying just enough (but not too much) to attract someone qualified.

    The flipside to this, lower salaries tend to attract the rich and disinterested to public service. They can afford to dabble, and they often leave things worse than when they showed up.

    As for this:

    “Houston’s public transport is a joke,” and another who said “sorry, not being mean, it’s just, um, unless you clean houses for a living, you don’t know what the Metro is.”

    All this tells me is that famously underfunded public services in a state known for underfunding public services had a low rate of satisfaction. No surprises there.

    I have no idea if this guy will do a good job or not, just that those two criticisms aren’t grabbing me. I’d rather hear about some of his accomplishments/failures. What’s he done?

  • cedichou

    what happened to Nate Ford? Or is this orthogonal?

  • cedichou

    what happened to Nate Ford? Or is this orthogonal?

  • Eve Batey

    Nope, Ford’s the head of the entirety of the MTA, this guy just heads up Muni. So he reports to Ford, if this org chart remains accurate.

  • Eve Batey

    Nope, Ford’s the head of the entirety of the MTA, this guy just heads up Muni. So he reports to Ford, if this org chart remains accurate.

  • PhilD

    That salary doesn’t seem outrageous, and no one can envy the job this guy has ahead of him. Hopefully he is up to the challenge. Like s5 said, he could surely make more as a consultant in the private sector, so maybe he genuinely believes this is a challenge he can meet head on?

    As I think about it, I’m starting to feel sorry for the guy…

  • PhilD

    That salary doesn’t seem outrageous, and no one can envy the job this guy has ahead of him. Hopefully he is up to the challenge. Like s5 said, he could surely make more as a consultant in the private sector, so maybe he genuinely believes this is a challenge he can meet head on?

    As I think about it, I’m starting to feel sorry for the guy…

  • Sue

    Muni hater? Not me. And I think any publication that starts a story that way is doing a disservice to a vital public agency by helping to focus public wrath on an easy target.

    Shame on the SF Appeal.

  • Sue

    Muni hater? Not me. And I think any publication that starts a story that way is doing a disservice to a vital public agency by helping to focus public wrath on an easy target.

    Shame on the SF Appeal.