MBTA's acting GM to step down and join agency's control board

Posted on May 30, 2017

Effective July 1, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Acting GM Brian Shortsleeve will step down and join the agency's Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB), Gov. Charlie Baker announced.

Steve Poftak, vice chair of the FMCB, which will extend its governance by two years, will temporarily step down to serve as MBTA's interim GM.

Personnel and board changes were also announced as the MBTA continues its search for a permanent CEO/GM.

Effective July 1:

  •     MBTA Acting GM/Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve will vacate both positions and join the FMCB.
  •     FMCB Vice-Chair Steve Poftak will temporarily vacate his board position to serve as interim GM.
  •     MBTA COO Jeffrey Gonneville will be promoted to deputy GM.
  •     MBTA CFO Michael Abramo will be promoted to chief administrative officer.

Effective at a future date upon the hiring of a permanent GM:

  •     FMCB Member Lisa Calise will vacate her seat to focus on new job at UMASS, when Vice-Chair Steve Poftak will rejoin the board.

Comprehensive and bipartisan transportation reform legislation first proposed and later signed by Gov. Baker in the wake of the T’s collapse in the winter of 2015, authorized the FMCB for an initial three-year term that would have expired in June 2018. In February, Governor Baker recommended the board request the two-year extension of its term as allowed by statute and is today approving their request to extend its governance through June 30, 2020.

Secretary Pollack enlisted the assistance of a GM Search Advisory Panel and an executive search firm for a permanent MBTA CEO/GM, which she will name pending final candidate interviews and a selection which are in their final stages.

Under the leadership of the FMCB and Shortsleeve over the last two years, the MBTA has made progress to get its fiscal affairs in order, reducing a projected Fiscal Year 2018 operating budget deficit of $335 million to $30 million and improving T management in ways that are already enhancing the rider experience. Operating expense growth has been curbed to the lowest amount in 15 years, and Shortsleeve collaboratively worked with the MBTA’s largest union, the Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589, to reopen negotiations on its collective bargaining agreement to save $80 million over the next four years and over $750 million over the next 25 years. The MBTA is spending $675 million in savings and capital investments this year on system-wide upgrades and improvements to the state of good repair, a 59% increase over FY 2016 capital spending.

A focus on core infrastructure investments and $100 million in winter resiliency improvements have seen the installation of 23.5 new miles of third rail, 21.5 miles of new heating infrastructure, and 3,600 linear feet of snow fencing along the Red and Orange Lines. Capital investments in fleet vehicles will see the delivery of 375 new buses by this fall and 252 new Red Line cars and 152 new Orange Line cars in the future.

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