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SMART names Utah transit official as new general manager

Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit has settled on a new general manager to take over for Farhad Mansourian, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

On Wednesday SMART announced it hired Eddy Cumins, the chief operating officer for the Utah Transit Authority, where he oversees 2,234 employees across a transportation network that includes commuter rail, light rail, bus and rideshare networks.

Supervisor David Rabbitt, chair of the SMART Board of Directors, welcomed Cumins as a “terrific” hire because of his years of experience and “personable” nature.

“I think that’s going to be good for SMART going forward,” Rabbitt said. “Not only having the technical know-how of how to run the system, but really the connection to community that he exemplified back in Salt Lake City. I think he can do the same thing there.”

Cumins, 48, served 20 years with the U.S. Air Force, where he worked in several roles including in vehicle management and as a commandant in Airman Leadership School. He left in 2011 as a vehicle fleet manager to work for the Utah Transit Authority, according to SMART. He holds a master's degree in Organizational Leadership from Colorado State University and has a bachelor's degree in Human Resource Development from Southwestern College.

He is set to start at SMART on Nov. 29.

“My wife and I love the Sonoma-Marin area and look forward to becoming active members in the community,” Cumins said in a SMART written announcement. “I believe my background and experience are a perfect fit for SMART, and I am confident I can help the agency achieve both short and long-term goals.”

SMART’s workforce consists of about 139 full-time positions, with annual spending of $70.8 million, according to its 2020-21 budget.

The agency oversees a passenger rail system that currently runs between northern Santa Rosa and Larkspur in Marin County, with plans to eventually reach Windsor, Healdsburg and Cloverdale. The agency also newly oversees freight rail traffic on the North Bay corridor.

Mansourian announced his retirement in April, capping 10 years at SMART’s helm and decades of government service in Sonoma and Marin counties. He was previously the public works director in Marin County.

Mansourian is widely credited by SMART supporters as a champion of the nascent passenger rail system, helping it launch service in 2017 and secure outside funding to bolster its expansion. He was also a lightning rod for SMART’S sharpest critics, who accused him of lacking transparency and glossing over significant shortfalls in SMART’s buildout.

Rabbitt offered high praise of the outgoing general manager on Wednesday.

“Farhad is the guy that got the thing built,” Rabbitt said. “His legacy is massive.”

Mansourian, who already extended the start of his retirement past August, will stay on until the end of the year to help with the transition in leadership.

Cumins’ starting salary is $298,000, with a 5% adjustment in six months, according to a summary of Cumins’ contract presented to SMART’s board on Wednesday.

You can reach Staff Writer Emma Murphy at 707-521-5228 or emma.murphy@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MurphReports.

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