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Santa Monica Taps Interim Transportation Director

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By Lookout Staff

July17, 2023 -- Deputy City Manager Anuj Gupta will head the Department of Transportation (DOT) while the City conducts a nationwide search for a permanent director.

Gupta will replace Ed King, who is retiring on August 9 from the post he has held for the past 12 years, City officials announced last week ("Transportation Director Ed King to Retire," June 9, 2023).

As interim director, Gupta will manage a team of 472 employees and oversee a $110 million budget, primarily for the Big Blue Bus, which has seen ridership decline steadily for the past 12 years.

“I’m confident that Anuj’s proven leadership within our organization will serve him well in this role,” said City Manager David White, who tapped Gupta for the post.

“His exceptional policy and legislative affairs experience, including successfully advocating for transportation and mobility-related legislation and funding, will be an asset to the department as the City continues its innovative transportation and mobility work,” White said.

Gupta has served in government for 15 years at both the local and federal levels, the last six as deputy city manager.

In that post he has led the City's legislative and intergovernmental advocacy and partnerships work, while managing the City’s communications team "to engage and inform the community through the challenges and crises of recent years," City officials said.

"Gupta has led several complex interdepartmental policy projects, including the City’s pioneering framework for shared mobility," officials said.

He has also played "a crucial leadership role in the City’s economic recovery, homelessness and business engagement initiatives."

"It’s an honor to have the opportunity to lead DOT during this time of transition,” Gupta said.

“Our extraordinary professionals are delivering on their mission to plan, maintain, and operate an accessible, safe, integrated transportation network that advances a more sustainable and equitable future -- and I couldn’t be more excited to join the team.”

Under King's watch, the BBB became one of the nation's first transit systems to transition its entire fleet from diesel to renewable natural gas (RNG) in 2015.

Four years later, it introduced Santa Monica's first battery-electric bus, establishing a Fleet Electrification Master Plan to reach a 100 percent zero-emissions fleet by 2030

But the BBB has seen ridership plummet from more than 22.3 million riders in 2010 to 6.3 million last year.

During the coronavirus emergency, the decline accelerated with passenger miles traveled dropping from 45.5 million in 2019 to 22.3 million in the last fiscal year.

Editor's note: This report was updated at 1 p.m. Tuesday to correct information on DOT's staffing and budget provided by the City.

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