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MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott

An MBTA train on the Longfellow Bridge. (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

An MBTA train on the Longfellow Bridge. (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott has been in the top job for a little more than two months. Since she’s taken the reins, Gov. Deval Patrick has unveiled his vision for a major transportation overhaul, and a heavy snowstorm forced the network to shut down for more than 48 hours.

Scott joins us to talk about her vision for MBTA, the system’s financial and operational woes and the governor’s plan to fix the ageing system.


Beverly Scott, MBTA general manager


MAPC: “After a decade of chronic underfunding, the MBTA is facing a $161 million gap in its budget for fiscal year 2013, which begins on July 1st. The T has proposed two different packages of fare increases and service cuts (Scenario 1 and Scenario 2), both of which have generated strong public opposition. See if you can figure out a better way to fix next year’s budget by choosing what you think are the best options for raising revenue, cutting costs, and finding help from other state agencies.”

Boston Globe: “Surging T ridership and booming construction around transit stations, the study from the Urban Land Institute found, are poised to overwhelm the MBTA, potentially limiting future development and slowing the regional economy.”

Boston Herald: “The T payroll, obtained by the Herald yesterday after a public records request, shows that 711 employees have cracked the ranks of the $100,000-plus pay club — a 12.5 percent jump over the previous year.”

Other stories from this show:

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  • J__o__h__n

    Why are we expanding the commuter rail when we can’t pay for existing MBTA service? 

  • J__o__h__n

    Why did the T switch from brief and clear recorded stop announcements to drivers that you often can’t understand making overly detailed ones?  One E line driver mentions that Park St is the stop for the “state house of Massachusetts.”  Thanks for the helpful info letting me know what state we are in.  If I wanted a tour, I’d commute by duck boat.  People during commuter hours don’t need the additional info ten times a week. 

  • Wahoo_wa

    I have lived in Venice, Italy, Philly, San Francisco and DC before moving to Boston.  Boston has the worst public transportation system.  It’s awful!!  If Ms. Scott can bring DC’s successes to Boston I will applaud her!!  DC has the best public transportation in my experience.

    • Cleetus

      Zoinks! You have got to be kidding me. I just got back from DC, and from a public transit enthusiast/ railfan perspective, I have got to say that the T is a walk in the park compared to the Metrorail. I guess I’ll just run through it.
        Pros: The trains and stations were VERY clean and comfortable-easy to navigate the lines-well maintained trains, tunnels and tracks-pretty damn fast
        Cons: Every station was the same brutalist design (got old real quick)-the trains ATO (Automatic train operation-basically what adjusts the speed) was WHACK. It would go 5-10 MPH over the area speed limit and then aggressively readjust [In boston the ATO eases the train into the speed limit and stays .5-1 MPH under the limit on old equipment]-ancient fare machine/faregate system-OVERPRICED!-understaffed. The staff that was working there sat in their kiosks and looked at confused tourists-all of the escalators were out of service at the same time. Thus, alot of exits were closed completely. I had to walk all over L’enfant plaza station to find an exit… All of this on a brand new subway system. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely  a smooth way to get around mostly, but I couldn’t help but critique the living daylights out of it. You’ve got it good in boston, and like it or not, the T does care about your experience. 

    • Cleetus

      Also, FYI, if you take the green line alot than I can understand your impression. The green line is America’s first and one of the only light rail system. It does NOT have ATO. Runs on signals and operators. Old system, lots of stopping and starting. Probably uncomfortable for somebody new to boston. It could be better. It could be way better. It’s definitely above average in this country though. If you want a fantastic light rail system, go back to EU. You aint gonna find one in this country. Those operators work their asses off, so thank them because like it or not, they do care.

      • Wahoo_wa

        You’re completely delusional if you think the DC metro is worse than the Boston metro.

        • Wahoo_wa

          …and I’ve lived in Boston for 8 years.  The T is not new to me.

          • Cleetus

            I guess I am delusional. Probably because I expected a counter argument. 

      • jefe68

        So the excuse for the Green line being so awful is that it’s old?
        That’s the point, why has the state and the MBTA just kicked the can down the road for decades? I know the Big Dig has not helped in the finances but the MBTA has been one of the worst managed systems in the nation. I think the only one worse is the LIRR in New York.

        • Cleetus

          Yep. I would call it sub-standard at worst, for light rail in this country.

  • Suburban girl

    have to agree with Wahoo_wa…D.C. is Disneyworld compare to Boston and if we can make Boston work & create sustainable transportation and affordable.  

  • J__o__h__n

    Why not save money by closing half the green line stops?  If you can see the next stop, they are too close. 

    Why not ban eating on the trains?  That would save cleaning costs.  I don’t think you can eat on the DC trains and that is a big reason they are clean.

  • Jessica Langerman

    Brava to Ms. Scott’s vision for the future of Boston’s T.  Now, let’s finance repairs to its infrastructure and plan for its future by enacting the carbon tax legislation recently submitted by Tom Conroy of Sudbury and Mike Barrett of Lexington-Concord-Carlisle… their bill is entitled, “An Act relative to shifting from carbon emissions to transportation investment.”  This is EXACTLY what we need to do!

  • Inefficient Ride

    How financially better is the MBTA now that trolley riders (on the B, C, D and E green lines) can’t sneak in and, therefore, must pay the trolley fare?

    So often, it takes such a LONG time to get all the riders on board the trolleys via the front door of the first (and sometimes ONLY) trolley car. 

    ** Save time and open those back doors of the trolley.  Let more riders in, in much less time.**

    • J__o__h__n

      I agree.  It takes far too long.  They do it on the buses without problems. 

  • Baylorbennett

    What will B Scott do to keep the partnership of the MBTA and bycicles strong? Bikes should be a partner of T an not an accessory. I applaud the current bike racks, paths, and HUBWAY efforts but I think more can be done to make bikes ON the T during rush hours a reality. Will this ever happen?

    • PaulfromHydeParkMA

      Not soon, Baylor. The bike riders in Boston are clueless about how dangerous the streets are here, routinely expecting to be deferred to on the narrow, unsafe streets that characterize Boston. They ride where they want, forget that they DISAPPEAR in car blind spots and get bent out of shape when someone driving a car gets pissed because the cyclist has created a dangerous situation. I was driving in the snowfall over the weekend, and there were people riding their damn bikes on slippery roads! It’s insanely stupid to do this in a culture in which the lack of a driver’s attention is EPIDEMIC! But I digress. The T has no space for bycyclists, never mind their cycles. Until the public agrees to jam into the cars, the way they do in real cities, there is going to be no motion on an idea to allow bikes on subways and trolleys. Not gonna happen.

  • J__o__h__n

    Previous GM Richard Davey promised to respond to questions on this show and never did:

    Meghna Chakrabarti posted:

    Hello everyone,
    Just wanted to let you know that, as we promised on-air, I compiled all the questions here and ones that were emailed to us. I sent them off to Mr. Davey today and will post his responses as soon as we get them back.Thank you for all your questions and for listening.http://radioboston.wbur.org/2010/08/18/t-chief-richard-davey

    Hopefully, the new GM will follow through.

  • Teg

    Dr. Scott’s answers were so loaded with jargon that they were impenetrable…what is a donut? what does moving the needle mean? I wish you would post a transcript for this interview so that we can use babel-fish on  it to figure out whether she actually answered anything.

    • J__o__h__n

      You just lack vision.  I have complete confidence that the MBTA will be able to execute its vision in all three areas just as well as it would if it only did one. 

      • Teg

         So you understood her answers?

        • J__o__h__n

          Yes, unless you expect content.

  • Teg

    Why couldn’t Dr. Scott give a clear answer to that Blue line question?

    • Teg

       I re-listened to the show, and it was Paul’s question on the green line (not the blue line) about the sequencing of stops…Dr. Scott said she didn’t know the answer to that question, but that she thought it had to do with capacity on the green line.

      I realize that my problem with jargon happened after Dr. Scott began discussing MBTA productivity and its workforce near the end of the show.  That’s when she talked about looking at the ‘hole instead of the donut’ and ‘moving the needle.’  Her comments about 360 assessment, succession, workforce development, etc.  have to do with performance evaluation and intervention.  It might be painful, but I think she should tie her ‘fix-it first’ idea to this, i.e. MBTA has to update its management training so that riders’ complaints are effectively addressed and solved. Moreover with regard to Mr. Koenig’s complaint, above, managers must be able to not only deal effectively with workers who directly report to them but also with contractors.

  • http://www.openeyesvideo.com/ Glenn C. Koenig

    The recent changes in parking at Alewife Station have caused terrible confusion.  Drivers are still getting to the exit expecting to pay.  There are no signs in the station that say “STOP – you MUST pay before returning to your car”  Instead, they say things like “Pay on Foot Station.” and “pay in lobby” on signs that are right IN the station, as if there is some lobby somewhere else.  The machines where you pay for parking won’t take dollar coins (or any coins for that matter) and are not clearly marked, so they’re also confusing.  I know that parking is supposedly the responsibility of a parking contractor, but this system is a poorly implemented, poorly designed source of frustration for users of the T.  I expect the MBTA to demand consistent service from its contractors, rather than just hand over responsibility and let them do what they feel like.  I have written to my state representative about this and sent photographs of the inane signs and control panels of the machines.
    This situation only confirms that here in Massachusetts we don’t know how to communicate.  I don’t want to vote for more taxes for transportation if this is the kind of sham our money is going to buy.  At least the Charlie Card machines have clear and easy to read instructions, and take the same dollar coins in payment that are given as change in other parts of the system.  I expect consistency and service, not confusion and a “don’t care” attitude.  This parking system should be replaced with something that’s clearly marked, with clear signs throughout the station so that T users have a clear idea of what to do.  Yes, I’m one of the people who got stuck in a car at the exit, unable to leave the garage, trying to pay and held up traffic on the ramp for 10 minutes while I went back to try to pay.  When I got back, a parking company attendant said I should have pushed the cancel button to summon him.  What?  The cancel button?  Are they crazy?

    • PaulfromHydeParkMA

      Couldn’t agree with you more! It took a threatened law suit to get the Commonwealth to spend the slush fund from gas taxes on town signage in the late 80s, through most of the 90s because it was close to impossible to get anywhere in MA using the century old (if there at all) signs in some places. Boston so wants to be a major city, but until it gives a damn and enforces things like driving laws and parking regulations and figures out that, yes, people sometime need HELP to find all the things the city is so proud of, it will just be the small town, provincial backwater that it is most of the time.

  • Paula

    Cost overuns from the Big Dig were thrown onto the T.
    Also,the T’s Union has run amok.
    Question-Will some of Gov Patrick’s new transportation revenue go to the T?
    The T has long been seen as a public-only project.Thw word public has connotations of poor and unworthy people,handouts etc.The T is needed for economic vitality around MA.not to mention our standing in the world.
    We are the only “developed” country that does not have good quality public transit.It’s an embarassment.
    Further fare raises are unacceptable.The cost burden should be statewide and should be public and private.The T supports businesses by getting people to work.

  • jefe68

    Why does it cost $170 a month to go 4 stops from Hyde Park to South Station?
    The zoning of the Commuter rail needs to be overhauled help the people in this area and Roslindale. People live father out in Newton and pay less for T service than the residents in Hyde Park.  The only service we have out in Hyde Park is buses, which are a nightmare, and the Commuter rail.

    Boston is way behind the ball on transitioning to light rail as well. I just don’t understand why they still use these huge engines and rail stock dating back to the 70′s.

    • Sdflkj

      It’s because the Commuter Rail is a higher cost, and some lines run at a deficit. 

      • jefe68

        It’s absurd. Hyde Park is three stops from Boston and is in the city limits.
        It should be zone 1. That’s my point. My other point is it’s an antiquated system that has not change much. The bottom line is the system is over priced and it’s not very good.

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