Still facing a "frustratingly slow" search effort to replace retired taxi head Chris Hayashi, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has chosen Kate Toran to fill the role in the interim.
Toran, who formerly served as paratransit manager, was selected in part because of her 15 years of experience in the transit agency's accessible services program, SFMTA Transportation Director Ed Reiskin said. She "seemed to have the right mix of experience and temperament," Reiskin added, to take on the challenge of keeping The City's taxi industry competitive amid competition from app-based ride services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.
"It's a very dynamic environment, very lively, sometimes rambunctious environment," Reiskin said. "So I think a calm, deliberate presence is well-suited to trying to make progress in terms of improving taxi service in San Francisco."
Toran, who has a master's degree in city planning from UC Berkeley, takes over as interim Taxis and Accessible Services director at a time when three to four years of regulatory taxi reform done by Hayashi, who retired June 20, must be implemented.
A portion of paratransit services are provided by the taxi industry, so cab issues are familiar to Toran. She worked with the taxi industry to implement a paratransit debit card program and wheelchair accessible taxi incentives. Toran also expanded the paratransit services network to include a grocery shopping shuttle for seniors and the disabled.
Agency employees were notified June 23 of Toran's appointment, effective that day. So far, "she's been outstanding," Reiskin said, and "it's a possibility" that Toran will take on the role permanently.