As it works through its profound financial woes, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority needs to present a compelling face to the public. Beverly Scott, who currently heads the transit agency in Atlanta, seems well-equipped to fill that role. After a long public interview Monday, in which Scott touted her efforts to sway Georgia legislators and made it obvious she’d already begun chatting up T employees, the MBTA board chose her as the new general manager of the Boston-area system. The bet, presumably, is that an outsider’s eyes may help identify problems that grizzled T veterans might overlook, and that her personable approach will go over well as Beacon Hill gears up to tackle transportation funding issues early next year.
Yet while the T needs to have a capable, consumer-oriented leader who can make the best of a challenging situation, it also needs Governor Patrick and the Legislature to deal with the broader transportation financing problem that engulfed the state during the Big Dig era. Scott cannot succeed in her new task until Beacon Hill finds a sustainable way of paying down transportation debt, clearing a backlog of necessary repairs in all the state’s highway and transit systems, and finding a way to finance future improvements.