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Massachusetts officials have kicked off the hunt for a permanent chief executive officer and general manager for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Gov. Charlie Baker announced yesterday.The state's Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack has established a general manager search advisory panel. She's also in the process of securing an executive search firm to identify a "CEO-style" general manager, according to a press release issued by Baker's office.The MBTA's new leader must focus on performance, capital investment and improved customer service. The search process will be coordinated with the agency's Fiscal Management and Control Board, with board member Steve Poftak serving on the search panel."The MBTA is showing real progress in its turnaround, from vastly improved winter operations to cutting its operating deficit by more than half, but more work is needed to deliver better and more efficient results to riders and taxpayers," Baker said. "As the MBTA enters this next phase, the time is right for a transformative and permanent general manager with a strong business background and experience in delivering major capital programming and providing direct service to customers."MBTA Acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve, Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gonneville and Pollack have helped "steer the MBTA in a better direction," said Baker, adding he looks forward to their leadership as the state searches for a turnaround CEO. Baker also recommended that the fiscal board exercise a two-year extension of its governance of the agency, as permitted by statute. The board's term would end June 2018, but it has an option to extend it through June 2020.Extending the governance model for two years would help ensure a longer-term structure is in place when the new GM takes the reins, Baker said. To learn more about the MBTA's reform efforts over the past two years, read this feature in Progressive Railroading's February issue.
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