BOSTON (WHDH) - MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak told employees that he’s stepping down as general manager from the MBTA in a letter. His last day will be Jan. 3.
“Serving as MBTA General Manager has been the experience of a lifetime and it has been my honor and privilege to work with all of you,” he said.
He said in the letter that he believes in the “strength and resiliency of the MBTA,” and said he takes pride in the group’s accomplishments.
Poftak detailed the work the group did to keep the T running during the pandemic, and to improve safety, even though “we know we have more work to do on safety.”
He said he will focus on the transition to a new administration before he leaves in January, and will not be receiving any type of severance package, according to the MBTA.
Under Poftak’s tenure, the Federal Transit Administration issued a scathing report on the T’s safety, emphasizing throughout the report that the T’s investment into longer term projects came at the detriment of day-to-day maintenance. During his time, trains derailed several times, an Orange Line train caught on fire, forcing an evacuation, and the entire Orange Line shut down for 30 days in an unprecedented move.
Poftak has held this role for four years.
“We’ve had over the past few years a perfect storm,” said James Aloisi, the former Massachusetts secretary of transportation. “It’s the function of the system that’s aged that hasn’t been kept up with for maintenance purposes that’s underfunded.”
In a statement, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. said that his resignation “is long overdue.” She added that “(w)e now have a critical opportunity to make much-needed changes and ensure our public transit system is safe, reliable, and first-rate. With visionary leadership, sufficient resources, and effective oversight, we can get the T back on track for its riders and workers – and the people of Massachusetts deserve nothing less.”
“I think Steve’s legacy over time will be a good one and I think one of the things I really hope that happens before he leaves is we finish the final little piece of the Green Line extension,” said Gov. Charlie Baker.
Baker said he will do whatever he can to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership.
Aloisi said he believes the new GM should focus on two goals: “restoring confidence in riders” and “restoring morale at the MBTA.”
7NEWS reached out to both gubernatorial candidates Geoff Diehl and Maura Healey since they will ultimately make the decision for the new leader of the MBTA, but has not heard back from the Diehl campaign.
The Healey campaign said Healey would appoint a new GM who will ensure safety, reliability and accessibility across the T.
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