Governor Charlie Baker’s administration was taken by surprise by the sudden resignation of Beverly A. Scott, the general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) on Wednesday. The shock was even greater, as Scott had just received hour before that a unanimous vote of confidence and gratitude from the board of Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Scott has been put under a lot of pressure during the snowstorms which incapacitated the transit system for a while, being under direct responsibility as a scapegoat. Even though the system slowly came back to life, the general manager chose to quit her position in a letter sent to the board. While giving very few explanations for her resignation, Scott agreed to work until April 11, giving her full cooperation for a smooth transition. She thanked the committee for its full support and that was it.
Dozens of reporters hoped to find out more straight from the source, so they crowded her outside her office, but Scott clarified only one aspect: that she was not forced to give up her position. The governor himself found out about Scott’s decision at the same time as everyone else, on the news. He stated that he has no idea who will be able to fill Scott’s vacant position.
In the last two weeks, the MBTA train service had to be interrupted twice, each time for more than 24 hours. Even though Baker publicly expressed his discontent with the situation, he later explained that it was not toward Scott’s administration. His comments were not so well received, as people perceived them as an attempt to put the blame on Scott for the infrastructure issues which have been a serious problem long before she arrived at the office. At the MassDOT meeting, a lot of public officials and concerned citizens showed up to support her and to vouch for her character.
While she would not respond to the request for an interview, other people had to explain why she would resign from the job that pays her $220,000 a year, which she only took up in December 2012.
In a fiery performance she gave on the news conference on Tuesday, Bev, which is the name many people call her after, explained that nobody could have kept the old railcars up and running with the fall of such heavy snow. When she really gets going, she would have a very direct and refreshing way of speaking, often moving away from the mics attempting to get her point across. This happened at the news conference, as she painted a clear picture, where nobody could actually get such antique trains to work properly under such unfortunate weather conditions, with snowy rails and frozen switches.
Scott’s leadership and hard work was recognized by her subordinates, and she will leave behind her a lot of long-term improvements that she has helped put on the right track. Other organizations have supported Scott during her hard time these last few weeks, explaining that the snow disaster had little to do with the general manager’s administration of the situation. They agree that she has a fair point when she argues that the transit system has been seriously underfunded for way too long.
Days before handing out her resignation, Scott tried to explain, not excuse, the situation happening in the last weeks. The main problem was the fact that the old equipment should not be expected to run smoothly in such extreme snow.
Even though the system managed to groggily come back to life on Wednesday, the trains’ timetables could not be followed, as the wait times between two trains would be even twice as long as usual. Many commuters had a horrible couple of weeks. On some portion, the frozen lines forced the rail service to be suspended till Sunday.
The situation forced authorities to establish routes for shuttle busses heading to and from the JFK/UMass Station. However, the solution could help only so many commuters, because the buses were most of the time already full by the time they reached some stations. Many passengers had to endure freezing temperatures, waiting for the next bus, only to realize they were also full and they had to wait some more.
Opinions differed among the riders who got caught in the waiting game. Some of them said they don’t blame Scott for the frustrating situations, while others accepted her resignation as a natural response. They said that somebody had to take responsibility for what happened, and as the head of MBTA, Scott’s job is to do just that.
Scott’s response to these comments was quite straightforward. She did not complain about the position she was put in, and explained that snowstorms were not the only phenomena she had to confront during her administration.
Image Source: WCVB Boston’s News Leader