Jared Munster, New Orleans' longtime director of safety and permits under former Mayor Mitch Landrieu, will become interim executive director of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, the RTA board decided Tuesday.
In an interview, Munster, 35, said he plans to leave his post at the Safety and Permits Department and take up the new position sometime in the next few weeks.
He hasn’t ruled out the possibility of applying for the RTA job on a permanent basis, he said, but his first priority is getting ready to rebid the agency’s main transit contract, which expires next year.
A salary and benefits package for Munster will be negotiated later, RTA officials said.
The executive director does not actually run the city's public transit system, which is managed by the private French conglomerate Transdev, but rather monitors that company on behalf of the RTA board.
Dormant for two decades before it was revived in 2015, the executive director's job was billed by Landrieu as a way to improve oversight of the city's transit system.
It was last held by Greg Cook, a veteran transit manager from Atlanta who stepped down in September amid questions about his performance.
In his new role, Munster will be responsible for ensuring a smooth transition once Transdev’s contract expires in August 2019, whether Transdev wins the contract again or a competitor takes over operation of the city's buses and streetcars.
He will also oversee Transdev’s implementation of the agency’s strategic master plan, which involves a comprehensive analysis of whether the system should reorganize its routes to better connect commuters with jobs.
Munster had been Landrieu’s point man for a proposal that would have added more in-house staff to the transit agency, commissioned a deep-dive audit of its finances and given City Hall more of a role in holding Transdev to certain performance measures.
The RTA board ended up approving the audit but deferred acting on the other measures until after LaToya Cantrell took office as mayor this month.
Munster said Tuesday that he plans to continue looking at potential changes involving closer oversight of the agency by City Hall.
“And that in no way is delegating the authority of the board in that oversight,” he said. “It’s just helping, because the city has that in-house expertise in coming up with key performance indicators and measuring things in a consistent kind of way.”
Munster has been the city's safety and permits director for nearly six years, overseeing the start of the department's "one stop shop" in-person and online clearinghouse for permits and licenses. Before that, he was assistant zoning administrator for the city for five years and spent a shorter period as a city planner.
Cantrell’s administration said she will have a replacement for Munster by the time he leaves the Safety and Permits Department.