Supervisors say they are sending a message to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors by ousting Director Cristina Rubke.

The board voted 6-5 Tuesday against Rubke’s reappointment — Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Sandra Fewer, Matt Haney, Dean Preston, Shamann Walton and Aaron Peskin voted in dissent.

Rubke, who’s served on the board since 2012 and who uses a wheelchair, has been a strong advocate for accessibility projects across the transit agency.

Ronen, who serves on the Rules Committee where nominees are vetted by the committee, originally favored Mayor London Breed’s reappointment, but said Tuesday she changed her mind after the SFMTA board vote to increase Muni fares during a health and economic crisis. Ronen also took issue with the Rubke’s role during the vote to name the Central Subway Chinatown station after the late Rose Pak.

The supervisor said:

“Both of those resolutions were basically ignored by this MTA board that Cristina Rubke sat on.”

Last month, supervisors voted 10-1 on a resolution urging the SFMTA board not to increase Muni fares in discussions about its two-year budget. Despite the resolution, the transit agency approved fare increases the following week. 

In June 2019, supervisors approved a resolution recommending the SFMTA name the Central Subway Chinatown station after Pak, who supervisors said had fought and advocated for the project.

While the SFMTA board ultimately voted to add Pak’s name to the station, the vote was 4-3 with Rubke in dissent.

Photo courtesy of SFMTA Cristina Rubke served on the SFMTA Board of Directors from 2012 to 2020.

Ronen said:

“I hope it sends a message to the MTA board that when we speak and we speak overwhelmingly at this Board of Supervisors, we do not want to be ignored by that board, which is appointed, by the way, exclusively by the mayor.”

Fewer said she appreciates Rubke’s service, but noted the lack of Asian representation on the SFMTA board.

Peskin, who plans to introduce a charter amendment next week that would restrict the SFMTA board authority, said:

“The only check and balance that we have really comes through the nomination and confirmation process and I think that sending a message not only to the MTA commission… but to other commissions, that when the duly elected Board of Supervisors comes up with a policy urgence, that policy urgence really must be heeded.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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