Within the next few months, both the MBTA and Massport are expected to name new permanent leaders. Both transportation agencies have been under interim leadership since last year. It’s not ideal to leave important jobs vacant this long, but it will be worth the wait if the agencies name leaders who will play a constructive role in the state’s transportation debate next year.
By some accounts, the search has been hampered by the relatively low salary offered to candidates, and the state’s demand that finalists be interviewed in public. In the case of the T, it happens that several other large transit agencies have been searching for new leaders at the same time. Still, Secretary Richard Davey said he was confident those obstacles could be overcome.
Of course, the new leaders will need to know the nuts and bolts of how to run an aging subway system and a busy airport. But more than that, they also need to be team players next year, when legislative leaders have pledged to revisit the way transportation in the state is funded. The need for a cooperative attitude is especially evident at Massport, the healthier of the two agencies, which must continue to expand its role in the overall transportation system. Massport has taken good steps in that direction, for instance by sponsoring free inbound Silver Line service from Logan this summer. The new chief must be willing to build on those efforts.
It’s a testament to the interim leadership that neither agency has suffered greatly over the last year. The acting general manager of the T, Jonathan Davis, in particular deserves credit for overseeing the thankless task of this year’s service reductions. Still, heading into next year’s Beacon Hill debate, both agencies will require fully empowered leaders.