February 16, 2017

MBTA looking for chief to lead turnaround

Wanted: A turnaround CEO for the MBTA.

At a business breakfast Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack will undertake a search to find a long-term general manager of the MBTA.

Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve has been serving as the acting general manager since the 2016 departure of Frank DePaola. It has been about five years since the MBTA embarked on a search for a new general manager, hiring Beverly Scott, who left the post two years ago.

"This needs to be a turnaround CEO," Baker told the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Baker said he also hopes the Fiscal and Management Control Board, which oversees the T, will extend its term.

Shortsleeve, who worked with Baker at General Catalyst, will remain chief administrator, which has more of a focus on the financial and business operations.

After relentless snow and cold devastated Greater Boston's transit system, lawmakers in 2015 created the five-member control board appointed by the governor to oversee the MBTA.

In almost weekly meetings, the Fiscal and Management Control Board has put on display the system's $7 billion maintenance backlog and other structural problems while embarking on controversial moves to privatize aspects of the service, cut extended weekend hours and raise fares.

The law establishing the control board allowed it to continue in existence until June 30, 2020 upon written recommendation by the board. Otherwise the control board dissolves June 30, 2018.

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