In addition to running the nation's seventh-largest transit system, with 700,000 daily boardings, the agency oversees taxis, parking and traffic operations, and bike and pedestrian programs.
With an annual operating budget of $775 million and about 5,000 employees, the Municipal Transportation Agency touches the lives of just about every resident, worker and visitor to San Francisco. It is under constant public - and political - scrutiny.
The city's troubled transit system is riddled with reliability problems because of chronic funding shortages that have necessitated service cuts and fare hikes.
Arbitrator's rulingAnnouncement of Ford's early departure came just days after the imposition of a new contract on more than 2,000 Muni operators. The union members had rebuffed their own leadership and overwhelmingly voted down the contract the week before.
The arbitrator was allowed to impose the rejected contract because of Proposition G, which voters approved in November. Among other things, it gave managers more clout during bargaining. For example, it removed a condition that the operators be the second-highest paid in the country; instead wages are to be settled at the negotiating table.
The new contract includes a three-year wage freeze and gives managers considerably more power over discipline, schedules and other work rules.
During Ford's tenure, Muni's on-time performance rate reached an all-time high of 75 percent in early 2010, which was still short of the 85 percent mark demanded by city voters a dozen years ago. It has since dropped to 71.1 percent.
Copyright 2008 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.