Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beverly Scott: The new MBTA GM

Courtesy: MARTA
Yesterday's announcement of a new MBTA general manager brings with it not only a new era but also many challenges.

Yesterday at a publicly held interview and meeting, state transportation officials chose Dr. Beverly Scott, previously the General Manager of Atlanta's transportation system, to be the new head of the MBTA. As stated in my previous article, Dr. Scott was one of two finalists chosen for the position, both of whom were from Atlanta's Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).

The national search for a new general manager took a little over a year to complete. The MBTA received over 100 applications for the job and eventually narrowed it down to the two finalists this past week.

Dr. Scott has been the GM of MARTA for the past five years. Scott also held a GM position at the Transportation system of Sacramento and has also held various positions at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York and Philadelphia. Dr. Scott will also be the first female GM at the MBTA, similar to the ground that she broke when she started her position in Atlanta. 

I have no doubt that having a new GM--especially one from out of state--will help to usher in a new era for the MBTA. However, I am a bit skeptical on how Dr. Scott is going to transition from running the ninth largest transportation system in the nation to running the fifth largest. 

The MBTA is a much different beast than most transportation systems in this country. We are plagued by outdated equipment, constant financial struggles and rough winters.

Here is a quick look at the differences between the MBTA and MARTA:

Daily Ridership 
About 1.3 Million
About 500,000
Modes of Transport
Bus, Light Rail, Rapid Transit, Trackless Trolley, Commuter Rail, Ferry
Rapid Transit, Bus
Financial Trouble 
$8.5 Billion
$ 1.5 Billion
Rough Winter
Oldest Equipment 
1969- 43 years old
1979- 33 years old
Newest Equipment 
2010- 1 year old
2005- 7 years old
System Milage 
1,193 Miles (total)
43 Miles
On Time Performance
Year of incorporation 
GM Salary 

As you can see, both systems are similar in a few ways but also very different. Dr. Scott headed an agency that was not only significantly smaller and in a much different climate but also one that has far less debt and financial troubles. Although Dr. Scott has over 30 years of experience in the public transportation field, I don't believe that she has ever had to deal with as many hardships as the MBTA faces.

Dr. Scott has a little over two months to prepare before she officially starts her three-year contract. During this time, I hope that she does as much research as possible on the MBTA. Here are a few key components that I hope she covers over the next three years.

  1. Keeping up and actually tweeting on the @MBTAgm Twitter account.  
  2. Continues to pursue revenue streams in advertising. Including electronic ads and station naming rights. 
  3. Explore more "Green" and sustainable practices in transportation.
  4. Pursue the possibile rehabilitation or retirement of some older rolling stock (Red/Orange) as well as examining new equipment purchases. 
  5. Work with state officials to better understand and reform the way that transportation is funded in the Commonwealth. 
According to an article published by the Saporta Report, an Atlanta area business blog, Dr. Scott stated that stabilizing the MBTA was her first goal.  “I’ve always said I’m basically pretty much of a startup, fix-up, turnaround, transition person" said Dr. Scott. The article also noted that the MBTA would be Dr. Scott's last stop on a transportation career that has lasted three decades. “This is the one where I’m going to end up,” Scott said. “This is really a tremendous opportunity. The T is absolutely just an unbelievable regional asset, one for the state as well as one for this nation.”

I truly hope that when Dr. Scott starts her new position at the T on December 15 that she is ready take on the sometimes troublesome, yet gratifying system that is the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.


  1. Great, now we will have more liberal affirmative action scandals.

  2. Lovely...another incompetent idiot gets hired by the T. Expect yet another liberal affirmative action scandal. A superficial world we live in....they hire people based on how they look, not how they act and perform. Scott was told to get "business therapy" while in Atlanta due to her questionable performance. In other words, she clearly was not trained for the position and took virtually NO interest in trying to improve her ability.

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