Governor Charlie Baker on Thursday acknowledged the short tenure of outgoing MBTA general manager Luis Ramirez wasn’t ideal, saying he “certainly would have liked to have seen it last longer” than 15 months.
Speaking to reporters, Baker said the decision to part ways with Ramirez, who left Tuesday, was the result of a “group discussion” and came after “honest discussions” between Ramirez and Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack.
On Tuesday, Pollack said Ramirez was not fired, characterizing the decision as mutual. But he lasted less than half of his three-year contract and will receive a payout of more than $152,000 to leave early.
Ramirez was hired in 2017 after a six-month nationwide search. At the time, officials hoped he would bring needed stability to the agency. The chairman of the agency’s oversight board, Joseph Aiello, said “the T and its workforce will benefit from seasoned and stable leadership at the top,” while Baker predicted that after a year, people would agree Ramirez was the right fit.
But on Thursday, Baker said Ramirez’s replacement, Steve Poftak, a member of the T’s governing board and former interim general manager, is better suited to oversee the agency’s top priority: a massive, multibillion-dollar upgrade and expansion of the system.
“But the thing the T really needs to do here is execute on this $8 billion, five-year capital plan that we’ve got,” Baker said. “And Steve Poftak, who’s on the [board] and has been writing about and studying this particular issue for a long time, is the right guy to run with this.”
Baker also said Pollack, a former transit advocate and academic who has served as transportation secretary since the start of his term, has his “full confidence.”
“As long as she wants that job, we would love to have her do it,” Baker said.