Boston Chamber of Commerce encourages Governor Healy to increase pay to bring in new MBTA General Manager

Image courtesy of MGN

3/6/23 by Mackenzie Bruno

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce is urging Governor Maura Healy to hire a new MBTA general manager as soon as possible. Business Officials are promoting a large pay increase for the new hire, as concerns over safety and reliability have plagued Boston’s public transportation system over the past year. 

Chamber Chief Jim Rooney declared that hiring a new MBTA general manager is urgently needed. The goal of hiring a new leader of the MBTA, in the Chamber of Commerce’s eyes, is to improve T leadership and project management.

“The business community needs it,” said Rooney to The Boston Globe. Amongst many issues that need to be addressed include controlling delays and cost overturns in private-sector contracts.

Currently, the MBTA is dealing with Chinese manufacturer CRRC for new Red and Orange line cars as well as the installation of fare-collection gates at three of the city’s main commuter rail stations from California transportation contractor Cubic Corp. 

The newly hired MBTA general manager will oversee more than 6,000 employees. Healy’s delay in hiring a new MBTA general manager partly could be due to the fact that the MBTA is one of the number one priorities on the city of Boston’s agenda. Governor Healy officially took office in January, and has been installing several members of her leadership team, but a transportation leader is wanted more desperately than ever. 

From the business community’s perspective, the new hire of the MBTA general manager will be essential for reestablishing the MBTA’s image after its slew of problems as of late. Chamber Chief Rooney proclaimed to the Boston Globe, “We have the obligation to support a new administration that I hope is bold enough to pay the salary that is required.”

In order to ensure a hire that is equipped with the knowledge and abilities to take on the difficulties the MBTA presents, The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce argued the need for a major pay increase. An offer of a base salary of $450,0000 to $500,000 to attract a highly talented professional that will get the job done given the tough circumstances and high stakes of the role. The Chamber of Commerce found that former general manager of the MBTA, Steve Poftak earned much less compared to other United States transit agencies leaders. The typical salary range for similar transit agencies leaders is from $325,000 to $503,000. Former MBTA general manager Steve Poftak was earning on the low side of this range, at an annual base salary of $340,000 last year. 

The pay raise is an incentive for applicants, as the MBTA has numerous challenges to tackle in the future. In just the past week, the MBTA has seen a stair demolition in Milton despite much opposition from the community, increased delays, and several routes being cut back. Paying a salary high enough to ensure that the service the MBTA provides improves is all the business community is asking for. Healy told the Boston Globe that, “it’s just a really important position” and “[they] want[ed] to make sure [they] undertook a thorough process.”