Reiskin has no transit experience, but has worked for more than 20 years in the private, academic, nonprofit and public sectors. He was named as the new head of the SFMTA at a news conference held by the agency Thursday morning.
His contract goes before the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 2, and Reiskin is expected to take on his new role on Aug. 15, replacing Debra Johnson, who took over as interim chief on July 1 after Nathaniel Ford stepped down.
Reiskin was appointed as public works director by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2008. In that role, he has managed an annual $165 million operating budget and overseen more than 1,100 employees.
When he takes over as the SFMTA's executive director, Reiskin will be responsible for an operating budget of more than $775 million and about five times as many employees.
As an active cyclist and daily Muni rider, Reiskin said he has been personally invested in the agency for some time.
"Because of our density and because of our hills and because of our strong opinions about everything, transportation I see as essentially important to maintaining and enhancing the quality of life for people of San Francisco," Reiskin said.
Board of Supervisors President David Chiu described Reiskin as a man who "rides the ride and walks the walk."
One of Reiskin's first tasks will be resolving the contract dispute with Muni operators. He said he looks forward to engaging in a "constructive partnership" with the operators and putting transportation first.
Safety is also likely to be a top priority, as the agency has come under fire for several light rail crashes in recent years and crime on its vehicles.
Reiskin said he would work with police Chief Greg Suhr to address the outcry in the city's Bayview District over a recent officer-involved shooting by San Francisco police that occurred while officers were conducing fare enforcement.
At a community meeting at the Bayview Opera House on Wednesday night, some complained that the Bayview is targeted disproportionately in fare enforcement operations.
Reiskin said people should not feel harassed when riding Muni.
His experience includes serving as assistant to the city manager in Oakland, where he coordinated work involving various city agencies, focusing on public safety and community development.
Prior to moving to the Bay Area, Reiskin served as the District of Columbia's liaison to independent, federal, and regional public safety agencies, and as the District of Columbia's homeland security adviser.
Reiskin received a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a master's degree in business administration from New York University's Stern School of Business, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"The future of transportation is bright," said Tom Nolan, chairman of the SFMTA board of directors.