New chief for Transit Authority

Geoff Straw, who managed the largest student-run public transit system in the nation, has been named executive director of the San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority. The RTA board hired Straw, 45, after a nationwide search that drew 30 applicants.

As general manager at UC Davis’ Unitrans, Straw oversaw a $4.5 million operating budget that served more than 22,000 riders daily and 3.5 million annually.

Before his time at Unitrans, Straw managed bus systems in California and Utah and was a transportation consultant, focusing on transit needs of university and resort communities in the West.

San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Bruce Gibson, who is president of the RTA board of directors, called Straw “an exceptional manager with a proven track record in operations management, capital and transportation planning and proven abilities to develop and mentor staff.”

“He began his career as a driver for Unitrans at UC Davis and worked his way up,” Gibson noted in a press release. “Geoff knows the ins and outs of this business.”

Straw describes himself as “an avid bicycle commuter.”

He and his wife, Nancy, have a 15-year-old daughter. Straw, who starts Jan. 30, will earn $116,709 per year.

RTA is a joint-powers authority in San Luis Obispo County that operates fixed-route bus routes and special transit services for people with disabilities.

It connects people in cities throughout San Luis Obispo County, with about 60,000 riders per month, according to Aimee Wyatt of RTA.