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 We are plagued by outdated equipment, constant financial struggles and rough winters.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.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

MBTA Announces Finalists for GM position

According to the Massachusetts State House News Service the MBTA has finally narrowed their field of General Manager finalists down to two candidates.

It looks as if both finalists have good amount of experience in the transportation field, most of which was spent together at the same transportation authority. That being The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).

Finalist one is Beverly Scott. Scott is the CEO and General Manager of MARTA and has held the position for the past five years. The Second finalist is Dwight Ferrell, who is the deputy General Manager and Chief Operating Officer at MARTA and he has held that position for the past four years.

Beverly Scott
Courtesy: MARTA
MARTA is the nations ninth largest public transportation system. The system consists of four rail lines connecting 38 stations as well as 132 bus lines which serve about 500,000 people daily. This is in contrast to the MBTA which is the nations fifth largest transportation system. According to Secretary Davey MARTA is very similar to the T. “It’s not as big but it’s close. It has bus and subway and some of the same financial challenges that the T does,” Davey said.

Dwight Ferrell
Courtesy: MARTA
When Scott was appointed GM of MARTA she became the first woman to ever hold the position. This will also be the case if she is chosen as the MBTA's new GM. Scott has also worked and held various positions at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York as well as the transportation systems of Philadelphia and Sacramento. Ferrel has held pervious positions in the transportation authorities of New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Austin, Texas. 

The search process started a little over a year ago when then MBTA General Manager Richard Davey was appointed Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation and MassDOT CEO.  Two weeks later the MBTA's Chief Financial Officer, Jonathan Davis, was named interim General Manager and he has held that position ever since.

According to the State House News Service, the Search Committee, which consisted of Secretary Davey, MBTA Board Chairman John Jenkins, and former board member Elizabeth Levin, interviewed over 100 potential candidates for the position over the past year. 

Whoever is chosen as the MBTA's new General Manager will be inheriting a system that is in the midst of a serious financial crisis as well as showing signs of its old age. The MBTA General Manager Screening Committee is said to be interviewing the two candidates and making their final decision this week. Who ever is chosen as the new GM could be at the helm of the T as early as next month. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Back in Boston: an MBTA Student Guide

September 1st has come and gone, which means nearly 150,000 college students are back in Boston for the start of a new school year. That is why I have decided to created the Official Students Guide to the MBTA.

If you are a new student that is struggling to find your way around the city or if you are a returning student that is still unsure of what and where Wonderland is, then this guide is for you.

Courtesy: MBTA

The MBTA consists of  3 rapid transit lines, 1 light rail line, and 1 Bus Rapid Transit line which all operate within the city:

Rapid Transit (Subway):
     Red Line (Alewife - Ashmont/Braintree)
     Blue Line (Wonderland - Bowdoin)
     Orange Line (Oak Grove - Forest Hills)
Light Rail (Subway/Street Car):
     Green Line (Lechmere - BC/Cleveland Circle/Riverside/Heath St)

Bus Rapid Transit (Bus)
      Silver Line (Airport-South Station- Dudly Square)

The MBTA also operates an extensive Commuter Rail network that runs out into the suburbs of Massachusetts and Rhode Island including Lowell, Providence, Worcester, and Fitchburg.

Fares and Passes:

Most students who live in the city believe that having a credit card is one of the most valuable things they can have in their possession. Personally I feel that my Charlie Card is much more valuable than my credit card. The first thing you should do as a student in the city of Boston is pick up a Charlie Card. Not only are the fares cheaper when using a Charlie Card  but you can also find some good discounts when you show your card at different retailers. Download the Charlie Card Discount Book HERE.

The cards can be picked up at just about any station in the system that is manned by MBTA personnel or you can grab one at the Charlie Card Store in Downtown Crossing Station.

Fare breakdown:

Subway : $2.00 with Charlie Card and $2.50 with cash or Charlie Ticket.

Bus : $1.50 with Charlie Car and $2.00 with cash or Charlie Ticket.

Commuter Rail: http://mbta.com/fares_and_passes/rail/

How to get to different Colleges on the T:

It took me quite a while to figure out where each college was in the city and how I could use public transit to get there. Here is a full list of Colleges and Universities in the city and how you can get to them by way of the MBTA.

Berklee College of Music: Green Line to Hynes Convention Center Station or Green Line "E" to Symphony Hall Station.

Boston CollegeGreen Line 'B' to Boston College Station

Boston University: Green Line 'B' to Blandford St, BU East, Central, West, and St. Paul St. Station

Bunker Hill Community CollegeOrange Line to Community College Station

Emerson College: Green Line to Boylston Station

Harvard University: Red Line to Harvard Station

MassArt: Green Line 'E' to Longwood Station

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy: Green Line 'E' to Longwood Station

M. I. T. : Red Line to Kendall/MIT Station

Northeastern UniversityOrange Line to Ruggles Station or Green Line 'E' to Northeastern Station.

Simmons College: Green Line 'E' to Museum of Fine Arts Station.

Suffolk UniversityRed or Green line to Park Street Station

Tufts University: Red Line to Davis Square Station

Umass Boston: Red Line to JFK/Umass Station

Wentworth Institute of Technology: Green Line 'E' to Museum of Fine Arts Station.

Colleges of the Fenway (Wheelock, Emanuel): Green Line 'D' to Fenway Station.


Most students who have just moved into a dorm or a new apartment may still need to go out and by a few things to help furnish their space. This can be frustrating in the city because you have to travel outside of it in order to get to your big box stores.


Whole Foods Market:  Fenway Location: Green Line 'E' to Symphony Hall Station
                                    Beacon Hill Location:  Red Line to Charles/MGH Station

Shaws and Star Market: Prudential Location: Green Line 'E' to Prudential Station
                                       Fenway Location: Green Line 'D' to Fenway Station
                                       CambridgeLocation: Red Line to Central Square Station.
                                       Somerville Location: Red Line to Porter Square Station.
                                       Allston Location: Green Line to Packard's Corner Station.
Trader Joes: Boylston St. Location: Green Line to Hynes Convention Center Station
                    Coolidge Corner Location: Green Line 'C' to Coolidge Corner Station
Stop and ShopRed Line to Andrew Station

Home Furnishing/Electronics:

TargetRed Line to Andrew Station

Bed Bath and Beyond: South Bay Location: Red Line to Andrew Station
                                        Fenway Location: Green Line 'D' to Fenway Station

Best Buy: Green Line 'D' to Fenway Station

The Home DepotRed Line to Andrew Station

Staples: Downtown Location: Green Line to Government Center Station
              Fenway Location: Green Line "D" to Fenway Station
              Harvard Square Location: Red Line to Harvard Square Station.
              Allston Location: Green Line 'B' to Harvard Ave Station.

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