SMART selects Utah official as general manager

Eddy Cumins has been selected as the second general manager of Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit. (Provided by SMART)

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit will be under new management for the first time in a decade after hiring a Utah transportation manager this week.

The board of directors voted unanimously on Wednesday to hire Eddy Cumins, chief operating officer for the Utah Transit Authority. Cumins, 48, will start on November 29, replacing Farhad Mansourian.

Mansourian, managing director since 2011, announced his retirement earlier this year.

“One of my main goals is to make sure the system meets the needs of the community. I believe this is the key to a successful system, ”Cumins said Thursday. “I have to be there and on the pitch to really understand what it is and what we’ve done in the past. You should be prepared to make adjustments if they are needed.

Cumins was hired on a five-year contract with an annual base salary of $ 298,000 and a 5% raise after six months. He will also receive a bi-monthly allowance of $ 460 for car and cell phone and up to $ 27,850 in reimbursement for moving expenses.

Cumins worked for 10 years in various positions with the Utah Transit Authority, including that of COO since 2019. He also served in the US Air Force for 20 years, notably in the area of ​​vehicle maintenance .

The Utah Transit Authority is the state’s largest transit provider, serving more than 43 million passengers and providing commuter train, light rail, bus, paratransit, and ridesharing services. Cumins supervises more than 2,200 employees.

As to why he decided to join the comparatively smaller SMART agency, Cumins said he and his wife loved the Marin and Sonoma communities, having visited the area and reviewed the SMART system even before the start of the process. hiring.

“What I immediately felt was that my skills were a really good match for SMART,” Cumins said. “I come from an operational background. I think Farhad and this team have done a phenomenal job of building this system. I believe that coming in with the operational experience takes me to the next level and that I will really be able to have a positive impact on the system as a whole.

Cumins joins a time of significant challenges for the agency, including efforts to recover goodwill lost during the pandemic; the recent acquisition of the North Bay freight transportation business; the completion of the northern expansion of its rail network; work on expanding its network of cycle paths; and persuading residents of Marin and Sonoma to renew the district’s sales tax, its main revenue generator, before it expires in 2029.

Cumins said they have reviewed all of the agency’s recent community forums and said they plan to meet with various stakeholders when they start.

“I thought there was very valuable information and a lot of suggestions,” Cumins said. “It seems to me, at least watching these videos and going out and chatting with locals, I think people want SMART to be successful and I just want to be a part of it.”

Cumins was selected from two other candidates interviewed by the board of directors and a technical advisory committee that included local residents.

Barbara Pahre, vice chair of the SMART board, called Cumins a “creative, involved and masterful leader.”

“What struck me was that he seemed to be excited about joining the community,” Pahre said ahead of the board vote on Wednesday.

Tarrell Kullaway, executive director of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, was on the community recruiting panel that endorsed Cumins.

“I remember you mentioned that you and your wife were going to buy electric bikes and I hope I can show you around these electric bikes on the North-South Green Lane which will be completed under your direction,” Kullaway told Cumins. during the board meeting.

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