By Lookout Staff
October 17, 2023 -- After a nationwide search, the City has tapped interim Transportation Director Anuj Gupta to permanently steer the department during a critical time.
Gupta assumes the post as Santa Monica's transportation agency grapples with a highly subsidized Big Blue Bus (BBB) system that is hemorrhaging riders while investing in a future driven by green initiatives ("Big Blue Bus Hits Major Hump, Report Says," October 31, 2022).
The Department also is overseeing a rental scooter and e-bike pilot program facing pushback and a taxi cab program that is being phased out by mobility service providers ("The Last Taxis in Town," September 7, 2023).
Gupta -- who will assume the post on Monday -- will permanently head a department with 472 employees and a $110 million budget dedicated mostly to the BBB system but that also includes traffic engineering and parking operations.
“Anuj brings a wealth of experience to the table and proven track record of leadership and collaboration,” said City Manager David White, who announced his choice Tuesday afternoon.
“I am confident he can build upon the strong foundation of the department to cultivate innovative, accessible, safe and sustainable mobility options.”
Before replacing Transportation Director Ed King on an interim basis three months ago, Gupta served as Santa Monica’s deputy city manager for six years and "led several complex interdepartmental policy projects," City officials said.
They included the City’s "pioneering framework for shared mobility, while playing a crucial leadership role in the City’s economic recovery, homelessness and business engagement initiatives."
Gupta also led the City’s legislative and intergovernmental advocacy work, while managing the communications team "to engage and inform the community through the challenges and crises of recent years," City officials said.
Before joining the city, Gupta worked for the Mayor of Los Angeles, the U.S. Department of Justice and President Obama’s White House.
Gupta, who lives in Santa Monica with his wife and two young children, will earn an annual salary of $252,792.
“I am thrilled to lead the extraordinary team at the Department of Transportation into the future with a focus on safety, sustainability, innovation and outstanding customer service,” Gupta said in a statement.
“One of the many reasons my family and I love Santa Monica is that we can navigate this amazing community by taking a Big Blue Bus, walking or biking instead of always getting in a car --- and I look forward to accelerating our city’s work to make these modes safer and more accessible.
"DOT will continue advancing transformative projects and services that provide an unparalleled array of mobility options in the city, shaping a future that is more equitable and sustainable for all,” Gupta said.