Head of Boston's MBTA suddenly resigns (+video)
A day after defending her decision to shut down the Boston area's mass transit due to historic snowfall, Beverly Scott resigned as the head of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Aging equipment and more than 2 feet of snow left many Boston commuters stranded in recent weeks.
Boston — The head of the Boston-area public transit system resigned Wednesday amid commuter frustration over service disruptions during a spate of recent snowstorms that have pounded the region.
Beverly Scott gave no specific reason for her surprise decision to step down effective April 11, seven months before her contract with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority was to expire. She announced her resignation in a letter to John Jenkins, chairman of the board that oversees the MBTA, sent just hours after the board gave her a unanimous vote of confidence.
Scott said she would give priority during her final two months to restoring "normalcy" on the T after the recent disruptions, which included a complete shutdown of rail service Monday night and all day Tuesday.
The resignation came a day after Scott delivered a spirited defense of her decision to shut the system down, forcing hundreds of thousands of riders to make alternate travel plans.
"I have been around 40 years. I have been through hurricanes. I've been through World Trade Center bombings, tornadoes coming ... 36 inches of snow, this ain't this woman's first rodeo," Scott said at a news conference Tuesday.
Scott cited breakdowns in aging equipment used by the nation's oldest public transit system, pointing to dozens of trains that became disabled during the most recent storm that dropped more than 2 feet of snow on parts of the Boston area. Boston's subway system debuted in 1897, the first in the nation.
"No question, much more remains to be done to achieve the modern and first-class public transportation system that all want and deserve," Scott wrote in her resignation letter.
Rail service resumed on a reduced basis Wednesday with reports of long lines, crowded trains and buses, and lengthy commutes. The problems facing the system — known in Boston as the T — have raised questions at a time when the city is bidding to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.
The MBTA board will choose a successor for Scott. Jenkins said he was "stunned" by her departure.
"Be clear, this board has had no discussions at any time about her tenure as general manager," Jenkins said in a statement. "We hoped and expected that she would fulfill her three year contract, which ends in December of this year."
Gov. Charlie Baker, who took office in January, had criticized the performance of the T during the storms but didn't call for Scott to step down. Baker's transportation secretary, Stephanie Pollack, is a member of the MBTA board and said at Wednesday's meeting that the administration had no plans to seek a change in leadership.
Tim Buckley, a spokesman for Baker, said the governor was surprised by Scott's resignation and only learned of it when it was announced by the board.
Baker was scheduled to meet with Scott and other MBTA officials on Thursday to discuss the storm-related issues and develop "operational and maintenance plans moving forward," Buckley said. The governor does not exercise direct authority over the transit agency.
Scott began her tenure in December 2012 after managing transit systems in Atlanta, Sacramento and Rhode Island and holding leadership positions in others including the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York.