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MBTA deputy general manager named interim GM as Poftak departs

MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville spoke to reporters inside the T's operations control room in downtown Boston in 2015.John Tlumacki

MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville will become the T’s interim general manager in January, as Steve Poftak steps down after four years as GM, state officials said Thursday.

The announcement came just a day after Governor-elect Maura Healey said she hopes to name a permanent general manager for the embattled transit agency within “a matter of weeks and not several months,” the Globe reported.

Healey’s transition team said it has retained executive search firm Krauthamer & Associates to conduct an international hunt for the next permanent manager.

Gonneville previously served as interim general manager in 2018, prior to Poftak taking the reins on Jan. 1, 2019, according to a statement from the office of Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler. Gonneville will step back into the top job on Jan. 4.


“Jeff Gonneville has proven his leadership abilities as Deputy General Manager and in other senior management positions with the T,” Tesler said in the statement. “Jeff is a seasoned leader and has vast knowledge of all aspects of the T, from budgeting to service to capital investments. I am confident Jeff will be able to guide the MBTA well during this time of transition.”

Gonneville will take over the leadership role following a year of service cuts, safety problems, and a scathing conditions report by the Federal Transit Administration. Earlier this month, the FTA rejected a dozen of the MBTA’s plans to improve its hiring process, safety management, risk assessment and monitoring, and quality control, sending the agency back to the drawing board, the Globe reported.

The MBTA is still operating largely off federal pandemic relief dollars, but when that funding runs out in summer 2023, the agency estimates it will see a $236 million shortfall in its budget, which could grow to $406 million the following year, the Globe has reported.


Poftak announced his departure in November. The resignation comes nearly a full year before his contract was set to end but will coincide with Healey taking office, the Globe reported.

Poftak, who had previously been vice chair of the MBTA’s oversight board, was appointed by Governor Charlie Baker after former general manager Luis Ramirez left the post just 15 months into his tenure.

Gonneville, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has spent his entire career of more than 25 years working in public transportation and has worked for the MBTA for more than two decades, the statement said.

He worked his way up in the T’s operations division and previously served for two years as the T’s chief operating officer, overseeing operations of the authority’s light and heavy rail lines and its bus system, officials said.

Gonneville has represented the T on the American Public Transportation Association’s board of directors and served as chairman of that organization’s Bus Technical Maintenance Committee and of the Northeast Passenger Transportation Association’s Vehicle Maintenance Committee, according to the statement. He has also served on panels for the Transit Cooperative Research Program, the statement said.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at Follow him @jeremycfox.