As the new chief of the city's Department of Transportation pledged Monday to work with neighborhood councils to develop new programs, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hailed $150 million in state funds Los Angeles will receive this year to complete its traffic-signal synchronization program.

The program is one of many the mayor said he hopes to see move more quickly under the new general manager, Rita Robinson, who is replacing Gloria Jeff.

Villaraigosa fired Jeff last week and did not offer any details.

Robinson, who has been director of the city Bureau of Sanitation, began her new job Monday, saying she plans to meet soon with DOT staff members and the city's elected officials.

"I want to find out from the mayor and City Council ... what improvements they want to see," said Robinson, who had previously worked in the department for two years as assistant general manager and acting general manager.

Robinson said she also plans - as she did at the Bureau of Sanitation - to work with neighborhood councils and critics of the department.

"Integration with the neighborhood councils is absolutely critical," Robinson said. "I want us to be as transparent as possible, and the only way

to find solutions is to meet with everyone."

Charlotte Laws, a member of the Valley Glen Neighborhood Council and the Neighborhood Council Review Committee, said it was a welcome offer.

"I don't think there's been a lot of outreach by Transportation to the neighborhood councils, and we want to be part of the discussion," Laws said.

"We think the more the city listens to our input, the more successful programs can be. Getting us involved early on will help everyone ... in the process."

Villaraigosa, still refusing to discuss why he fired Jeff, said he hopes to see the department move faster on initiatives.

"We have done a lot of the little things, but there is more to be done, and I think Rita Robinson will be able to get the department to move more quickly," Villaraigosa said. "I want to see us do a lot more things."

The mayor and other officials disputed a report that the city is not retaining traffic data along major thoroughfares.

Council President Eric Garcetti said the city has the information - including traffic counts throughout the day - along major streets.

"We do collect the data and have it, but we aren't processing it," Garcetti said. "There's no point in collecting the data if we can't use it. We will be bringing in a motion to provide the $1 million or $2 million needed for the computer program to provide the analysis."