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2 Atlanta transit executives vie to lead MBTA

The two top mass transit officials in Atlanta have been named the finalists to become the next general manager of the MBTA, state transportation officials confirmed Monday, after more than a year of temporary leadership in one of Boston’s most politically challenging jobs.

Both candidates, Beverly A. Scott and Dwight A. Ferrell, are expected to be interviewed in public by the state’s transportation board Sept. 24, and a vote to hire one of the candidates could come immediately after the interviews, Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey said.

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For more than a year, the position has been filled on an interim basis by MBTA chief financial officer Jonathan Davis, since Davey was promoted from MBTA general manager to state secretary of transportation.

Davey said the position would pay more than the current $145,000 salary and more than his $150,000 salary, but he would not elaborate.

Scott, 61, is the general manager and chief executive officer of the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, the ninth largest transit system in the country. (Boston is fifth largest.)

Scott, whose contact at MARTA ends this year, would be the first African-American woman to lead the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Ferrell, 55, is the deputy general manager and chief operating officer of MARTA, which has four rail lines, 132 bus lines, and 38 train stations in its network.

Ferrell would be the second African-American man to lead the MBTA. Robert Prince Jr., was the first.

“These are two very strong candidates,” said Davey. “We can’t lose. Either way, we will have an outstanding general manager of the MBTA.”

More than 100 candidates were considered, Davey said. Three candidates were interviewed in Boston, but one dropped out, he said. The candidate who dropped out was not from the MBTA, he said.

The MBTA, which raised fares this year, faces major fiscal challenges as ridership on the sprawling system increases steadily, but revenues continue to fail to meet cost. Meanwhile, the T is planning a major expansion in extending the Green Line from Lechmere Square in Cambridge into Somerville and Medford.

Scott joined MARTA after serving in the top position of the Sacramento Regional Transit District, according to MARTA’s website. Prior to that, she served as general manager of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, one of four statewide public transit systems in the United States.

In 1979, she was director of affirmative action for the newly created Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority. She has also served in executive management positions with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, New Jersey Transit Corporation, and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where she became the first woman appointed as vice president of surface transit.

Scott holds a doctorate in political science with a specialization in public administration from Howard University and a bachelor of arts in political science from Fisk University in Nashville.

Ferrell served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) in Austin, Texas. He has held executive-level positions at the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Ferrell holds a bachelor of arts degree in business administration-management from Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas.

Meanwhile, another major transportation position that has been vacant for more than a year — the top position at Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Logan Airport — is expected to be filled Thursday, when the Massport board is scheduled to approve Thomas P. Glynn as chief executive officer. No terms of his hiring, including salary, have been released.

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