How will the new general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority be judged? Based on how the state plans to pay him, the answers range from how well he can balance a budget to whether he can make the trains run on time.
Luis Ramirez, whose first day on the job was Tuesday, will earn a $320,000 base salary — a big raise over past GMs, who have earned about $175,000. But he’s eligible for annual bonuses based on job performance that could reach $64,000 in future years. For year one, he could receive an extra $32,000 if he meets certain goals.
Those goals, the MBTA revealed Tuesday, are divided into four categories. Ramirez can earn up to $8,000 based on his work in each category, and his performance will be judged by Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack.
The first set of goals is focused on financial and operational matters, such as not allowing the T’s budget deficit to grow and finalizing contracts to install a new fare collection system and to outsource bus maintenance work.
The second category focuses on employee relations. Ramirez must fill several senior management roles and oversee collective bargaining agreements set to expire next year — such as the one governing the T’s pension fund, which the Baker administration has sought to reform.
The new GM will also be judged on customer experience issues, such as the daunting goal of improving on-time performance of trains and buses and developing a plan to improve customer communications.
And, finally, he’s being challenged to more aggressively address the T’s massive repair backlog. Goals that include investing nearly $800 million into repair work this fiscal year, developing a plan to invest more than $1 billion into repair work starting next fiscal year, and completing a long-term plan for the MBTA’s vehicle fleet.
If he does all that, and more, he can earn an extra $32,000 in his first year at the helm.
Ramirez, the fifth person to lead the MBTA under Governor Charlie Baker, spoke with reporters Tuesday to mark the start of his tenure.
A native of Florida, Ramirez said Hurricane Irma showed “how important it is to plan and work on the infrastructure, and be able to adapt infrastructure to these types of events.”
Ramirez has no experience in public transit but has managed large organizations and major infrastructure projects in the energy industry, including as an executive with General Electric Co.
He said he took the Green Line to work Tuesday, and noticed that fare vending machines were not working at the Hynes station.
“That really indicates to me first-hand, what are some of the experiences customers are actually having, and why it’s so important that we bring their experience into how we operate the business,” he said.
During the hunt for a new T leader, state officials said they planned to offer a higher salary compared to previous general managers to attract high-quality candidates and better match industry norms.
The salaries for leaders of major transit systems vary. Paul J. Wiedefeld, who leads Washington, DC’s transit system, makes $397,500 a year, and the head of Bay Area Rapid Transit in northern California makes more than $375,000. But the leaders of the Philadelphia and Chicago systems each make under $250,000.Adam Vaccaro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @adamtvaccaro.