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Healey picks transit veterans Gina Fiandaca, Monica Tibbits-Nutt as transportation secretary, undersecretary

Gina Fiandaca, left, and Monica Tibbits-Nutt were named transportation secretary and undersecretary by Governor-elect Maura Healey on Dec. 23, 2022.Healey-Driscoll transition team

Gina Fiandaca, who ran Boston’s transportation department before moving to Texas to oversee mobility for the city of Austin, will take over Massachusetts’ sprawling transportation bureaucracy in Governor-elect Maura Healey’s incoming administration.

Named by Healey on Friday, Fiandaca will take over as transportation secretary at a critical juncture for the state’s transportation system. Healey is inheriting responsibility for an MBTA that is confronting a long list of new federal safety mandates, a deep workforce shortage, and lines still struggling with delays. She has also promised more transparency on safety statewide and has committed to hiring a transportation safety chief to audit the entire system.


“We can’t have a functioning economy without a functioning transportation system. Gina Fiandaca gets that,” Healey said in a statement.

A longtime East Boston resident, Fiandaca will succeed Secretary of Transportation Jamey Tesler.

The governor-elect also selected Monica Tibbits-Nutt, former member of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation board of directors, as undersecretary.

Tibbits-Nutt is currently the executive director of the 128 Business Council, an organization that offers shuttle services along the Route 128 West corridor. She also served as the vice chair of the Fiscal and Management Control Board, which oversaw the MBTA from 2015 to 2021.

Healey said Tibbits-Nutt “prioritizes transparency and communication in her work, because she understands that earning the public’s trust is key to a strong transportation system.”

“She also looks at transportation through an equity lens, striving to ensure that underserved communities and those most impacted by environmental injustices are centered in our decision making,” Healey said.

The state is likely to have billions of additional dollars, including federal aid, at its disposal in the coming years, but will face crucial decisions on where to steer the funds. Healey, as a candidate, touted support for several major projects, including expanding rail service between Boston and Western Massachusetts, as well as other long-sought transit expansions such as the Red Blue Connector and the Allston Multimodal Project.


On the MBTA front, the governor-elect has said that the next secretary will be tasked with ensuring that the state is in line with recommendations made by the federal government when it comes to safety.

The new administration inherits a system that, in the past year, killed two people and injured dozens of others.

A commuter rail train struck a car and killed its driver in January, a Boston man was dragged to his death in April after being trapped in the door of a Red Line car.

In July, the driver of a Green Line train crashed into the one in front of it, injuring 27, and in September, an ascending escalator malfunctioned at Back Bay Station, causing a bloody pileup and sending nine people to the hospital.

The Federal Transit Administration identified a number of weaknesses, including poor safeguards, worker shortages, and lack of training, in a scathing report released earlier this year.

Healey has said her administration will address staffing issues by streamlining the hiring process and by working with high schools and community colleges to create a pipeline for transportation workers such as bus and train drivers, engineers, and planners.

Fiandaca was a longtime presence in Boston’s City Hall. She served for four years as commissioner of the city’s Transportation Department under then-Mayor Martin J. Walsh, running an agency of more than 400 people who oversaw the city’s 850 miles of roadway. She also served as chair of the Boston Air Pollution Control Commission, among other roles.


She had previously worked for nearly eight years as the director of the city’s Office of the Parking Clerk.

In 2019, Fiandaca left for Austin, where she served as an assistant city manager overseeing mobility, a purview that included transportation, aviation, and public works, according to the city’s website.

Fiandaca, an avid runner and marathoner, received a bachelor’s degree from Suffolk University and an MBA from Boston University.

“Massachusetts residents need to be able to rely on our trains, buses and roads to get them where they need to go safely and on time,” she said in a statement. “This is key not only for people’s daily lives, but also for the strength of our businesses and economy.”

Those in the transit community and beyond lauded the hires Friday, underscoring the importance of bringing diversity to the office.

For María Belén Power, who leads the Chelsea-based community organization GreenRoots, Tibbits-Nutt, who has worked in her community, and Fiandaca, who has roots in East Boston, symbolize a welcome change in the new administration.

Healey campaigned on a commitment to implement low-income fares and unlimited bus transfers, and said she’d explore getting fare-free buses in place throughout the state. She’s committed to increasing frequency of regional transit service and has promised to electrify public transportation by 2040, starting with school and MBTA buses by 2030.


Power said by advocating for such changes, this administration could help address some of her community’s most pressing concerns.

“Low income fare is critical. . . . It’s a very achievable goal to signal prioritization of low-income folks,” said Power, who served on Healey’s climate-focused transition committee. “And we know that communities like Chelsea and East Boston . . . are really bearing the brunt of pollution, especially from the transportation sector.”

Thomas Glynn, a former Massport CEO, said Fiandaca and Tibbits-Nutt have three chief mandates as they start out: addressing safety concerns, dealing with rush-hour traffic, and finding the money to keep the system running smoothly.

“All of those things play to the strength of Gina’s experience,” said Glynn, who is also a former general manager of the MBTA. “The T is front and center in terms of what the priorities are.”

Glynn co-chaired Healey’s transportation-focused transition committee alongside Tibbits-Nutt, who he said is “very respected” in the transportation policy world.

Prior to working in Massachusetts, Tibbits-Nutt worked in regional planning and development in Ohio and in the city of Columbus.

She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Indiana and a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the Ohio State University. As undersecretary, she will report to Fiandaca.

“Gina and I share a vision for transforming transportation options throughout the Commonwealth,” she said in a statement. “Together, we will prioritize transparency, safety, equity and climate resiliency.”


Samantha J. Gross can be reached at samantha.gross@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @samanthajgross. Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.