MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:45 pm

From relatively placid Chicago area where that best describes this "not too bad" Winter, it seems as if the MBA and their political friends needed a messenger to execute.

It appears the lady came to the "T" with a solid mass transportation background, and, while politics is a factor in any high level appointment, public or private sector notwithstanding, it does not appear blatantly political. Ms. Scott was certainly confronted with operational issues, i.e. weather, that she did not have to address at MARTA.

But that is hardly grounds to remove someone over an extraordinary condition. Now the "T" will just have to start searching for a replacement to which I say "good luck". For Ms. Scott, it surely off to academia or consulting.

Regarding those here who object to her travel & entertainment expenses, that is simply "RHIP". No organization expects their CEO to stay at Super 8 and "dine" at MickeyD.
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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby johnpbarlow » Sat Feb 14, 2015 2:12 pm

Dr. Scott may have a lengthy resume in the field but my issues with her revolve around the decisions she apparently made in the heat of the battle: stop service on storm day before many commuters can get home, cancel all T service on the day after the storm even though most roads were quite passable and Amtrak NEC/LSL were operating, get very defensive and emotional in public in front of the cameras, and then finally resign with a flourish apparently catching many by surprise.

More specifically re: the T service shutdown:

- Dr Scott elected to shut down the entire T operation at 7pm Monday evening with ~3 hours notice as the storm was winding down, stranding lots and lots of commuters in Boston. If it were deemed necessary to shut down prior to the T's daily closure time of midnight to 1AM, why not at least wait until 9-10pm so that T patrons who work into the evening can get home?

- Dr Scott decided to shutdown the entire T for Tuesday when the storm was over and people outside the city were driving around quite freely on plowed roads (parking was a challenge, though). Given Amtrak attempted to run a full NEC schedule to/from Boston (I'm not sure all trains ran, though, and I'm guessing there were delays) and operate the Lake Shore Limited on Tuesday, Boston-Worcester and Boston-Providence commuter rail ops could have been possible. Downeaster service was cancelled for Tuesday so perhaps North Side track had issues. As a single data point, on the Monday evening local news, a Mass Pike web cam in Allston showed that the switch machine heaters were functioning on the plowed Worcester line track.

- It hasn't been explained why the extensive underground portions of the Blue (Airport to Bowdoin), Red (South Station to Alewife), Orange (Back Bay Station to North Station), and Green lines (Kenmore to North Station) couldn't continue to operate on Tuesday.
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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby jgeary27 » Sat Feb 14, 2015 2:47 pm

I'm sure there is a great behind-the-scenes story to this. It will be interesting to see how much of it ever leaks out to the public.

The reason for the MBTA's debt crisis is not a secret. It is the result of a time bomb set 15 years ago when the Legislature handed the MBTA $3 billion in debt, 20% of future sales tax receipts, and told it to get lost. It was obvious at the time that even given best-case projections of sales tax revenue growth, there wasn't going to be enough money. As it happened, the post-2001 economic downturn and the Great Recession hit consumer spending hard and made those projections look comical. So, the T has been forced into a cycle of reducing service and increasing fares just to service the debt. (One of the consequences, as noted, has been the inability to replace minor luxuries such as work cars and snow plows.) This situation is well known even by commuters who only casually follow politics.

Which, I think, is what makes this story interesting. Scott must have known about the grim financial picture before she took the job. The Patrick administration loved to make grand promises about future service improvements without ever providing specific details about how it would be paid for. Enter Baker, who publicly dings her for some admittedly questionable operational decisions. Exit Scott.

What really happened? Was there some sort of bailout or restructuring in the works under Patrick that's now dead? Was there an expectation of political help from the Baker administration (that would be insane) that he signaled is not forthcoming? I can't imagine that she would really walk out over getting called out by the Governor for shutting the system down for a day, but I guess stranger things have happened.
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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby The EGE » Sat Feb 14, 2015 3:07 pm

Every single one of those has outdoor segments - Airport is outside the tunnel, there's an open stretch between Back Bay and Tufts Medical Center, the Longfellow Bridge, and turning Green Line trains at Kenmore requires the Blandford Street pocket track. Every one of those is going to get snow blown on it, and keep getting blown no matter how much you plow. It's better to put the equipment in the shops so you can have as much functioning equipment for clear days as possible.

The MBTA is not the WMATA, nor is it the MTA or the CTA; it cannot operate more than a very small downtown network entirely in tunnels or open deck elevated structures (which are generally impractical in Boston due to its much older and narrower streets). Many of the yards in those three systems can be accessed either directly from tunnels or other easy to clear structures; those of the MBTA cannot. It is an imperfect system; its construction outside the downtown core did not have the central planning of the other systems, and it is heavily limited by the difficult geography. Many of the mid-century extensions were over mainline railroad lines and through populated areas that dictated trenches and at-grade running.

The system was designed and built where the realities of climate change - that winters like this may become common or even normal - were not yet known. It was run with equipment that lacked vulnerable electronics, but also lacked the conveniences and safety they provide. And it was built in an era when equipment was replaced more regularly as part of running a railroad rather than a political process, so that there was more workable stock for work equipment. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Bev Scott is responsible for the decisions she has made - no more, no less. I don't think anyone quite realized how bad many of these situations were until they got in them. I've lived in New England my whole life; the output and ferocity of these storms has amazed me. Many of the decisions that have been made to run or not run service have not been the best, but I can't say I would have done any better. I don't envy anyone with her (former) job in this era; the fundamental issue is that the people of Massachusetts expect more from the MBTA than they are willing to pay into it.

Instead of looking who to blame and who to fire, we should be asking how to dig ourselves out and rebuild. How do we pay for a better system; how do we work with the geographic reality that much of the state only sees the indirect economic benefit of the T (as it supports the economic engine of Boston) and not direct service, yet must help pay for it? How do we balance the construction of a few critical links (like GLX and Red-Blue) that are necessary to support the needs of a dense urban population with the need to protect what we already have? Do we focus on equipment that can better run in snow, or of more equipment to keep the rights of way clear, or of protecting the most vulnerable sections with fences or roofs?
"Give me an unobstructed right-of-way and I'll show them how to move the earth!"
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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby jgeary27 » Sat Feb 14, 2015 4:55 pm

That is another good point about construction. Columbia Junction on the Red line has had electrical problems at least since I was living in Dorchester in the early 2000s. It's been noted elsewhere in this forum that the type of 3rd rail used on the Braintree extension is prone to icing. The Blue line past Airport switches to catenary due to similar icing concerns (although this seems not to have helped in this case). But again I would point out that these problems are not unknown or unexpected... it just takes a lot of money to fix them, money that the T does not have under its current funding model.
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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sat Feb 14, 2015 5:07 pm

Mr. Barlow, it would certainly appear that a Boston Globe columnist disagrees with Dr. Scott's management of the T. Something tells me that even though The New York Times Company has spun off the Globe, the new owners want to maintain the same standards of journalism that The Times brought to the paper.

The reportage of The Herald regarding Dr. Scott's travel and relocation expenses simply appears to be gutter reporting to me.

While I'm sure that many a political hack is standing in line to be tapped, good luck finding a well qualified successor.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/0 ... story.html
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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby jgeary27 » Sat Feb 14, 2015 5:29 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:While I'm sure that many a political hack is standing in line to be tapped, good luck finding a well qualified successor.


I have one more thing to share about this, and it's an anecdote: I had dinner last night with a friend of mine who commutes daily on the Worcester line. She is not a train or transit buff by any stretch of the imagination, but even she was infuriated that Scott resigned. I don't think she would mind if I quoted her here:

"This is awful. She's smart and understands infrastructure. Now they're going to give the job to some hack who's owed a job, because after this nobody competent will want to do it."

The article Mr Norman links to refers to her "surge in popularity" this week, but I would suggest that surge really began a year ago. After decades of hearing that late-night subway operation Just Could Not Possibly Be Done, she did it. Commuters felt like someone was in charge who actually cared about running the system and would listen to them. Finding a replacement who will build on that enthusiasm is going to be difficult or impossible.
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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby bierhere » Sat Feb 14, 2015 9:10 pm

Can someone name any major accomplishment in the past 24 months? Because I can't. I'd agree the travel budget itself doesn't look out of line, but individual pieces of it are crazy. The excess luggage fees and laundry fees are completely unreasonable, if what was printed in the Herald is true and the context correct.

The current fault lies with the previous governor in my opinion. He had 8 years to improve the system and address the debt issue, and he failed. Why does Deval get a free pass?
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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby BandA » Sat Feb 14, 2015 9:36 pm

Gov Baker said he's going to have a call with "Bev Scott", that's twice in a week, they are buds now, lol.

I watched Scott's press conference; That pic was quite funny but also derisive and purposely painted her in an unflattering light. On the same day Herald headlined "rail fail", the Globe had a narrow column on the far right, in small type something like "MBTA chief defends agency". Like they were not covering the same press conference.

Somehow I don't think she was jetting around visiting manufacturers. At 10% of her salary it could be justifiable. But for a new manager to spend 22% of her work time out of state in the first two years should have raised alarm bells with the rubber-stamp board. I'm not sure Scott is part of the problem, but she was definitely not part of the solution.
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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby Gerry6309 » Sat Feb 14, 2015 9:43 pm

Another famous line which describes the MBTA, especially the engineering and maintenance people:

We the unknowing,
led by the unwilling,
have done so much,
with so little,
for so long,
that we are now qualified
to do almost anything
with absolutely nothing!
Gerry. STM/BSRA

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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby NH2060 » Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:03 pm

The EGE wrote:The system was designed and built where the realities of climate change - that winters like this may become common or even normal - were not yet known. It was run with equipment that lacked vulnerable electronics, but also lacked the conveniences and safety they provide. And it was built in an era when equipment was replaced more regularly as part of running a railroad rather than a political process, so that there was more workable stock for work equipment. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

So was the NYC subway system. But they went either below ground or above ground, not at grade. And there were reasons for that even before factoring in extreme snowstorms, blizzards, "snowicanes", etc. which btw weren't unheard of back then either Traffic congestion from streetcars, carriages, and pedestrians, etc. in NYC was becoming too much to handle. The New York Central ended up being told to dig a cut along Park Avenue with the segment from 56th St. to 97/98th St. becoming the original 4-track Park Avenue Tunnel; the rest was covered over when the current GCT was constructed.

The system in Boston with its mix of partial tunneling street running -for all its "flaws", and "problems"- just works. Certainly when it was built/expanded in the late 1800s/early 1900s there was never the type of congestion that NYC was dealing with. And that's simply because Boston has not, is not, and (hopefully haha) never will be NYC. Tunneling the entire system everywhere at that point in time was impractical and it still would be if it were to be undertaken today. East of Kenmore and throughout the rest of "Boston Proper"/Downtown the tunnels are a must. There's no getting around that.

Tunneling the Red Line south of Andrew all the way to Braintree would be pointless as would doing the same for the Orange Line from Community College to Malden, the Blue Line from east of Maverick to Wonderland and the Green Line branches. When really bad weather hits yes it will get shut down, but so will the commuter rail, highways, businesses, schools, etc. The weather has, does, and always will at times become too severe for even reduced service to operate. That's just the way it goes. On a normal day at grade/above ground rail systems WORK JUST FINE.

This particular winter got off to a bit of a late start, but hasn't stopped since. It'll no doubt be talked about for decades to come. And in between the frequent snowstorms, old (in some cases REALLY old) trains, and underfunded infrastructure this has become a perfect storm of trouble for the T.

And if one wants a long term solution to the Green Line's problems on the branches kicking out/significantly reducing levels of automobile traffic (through congestion pricing, park and ride lots, etc.) would have a much greater positive impact that more tunnels. And I say this as someone anxious to ditch the car once and for all ;-)
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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby Gerry6309 » Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:52 pm

Back in 1915, the City of Malden said NO to a traditional el structure down Main St. The result was a delay of 60 years in getting rapid transit to that city, resulting in a line which served only the city center, and not well at that. Only subways and rail lines were considered for the Dorchester Extension where an el could have been easily constructed down Dorchester Av. Most T riders have never been to Shawmut Station, and have no idea what is and isn't there. Come ahead 27 years and the 14 year effort to replace an electric "rapid transit" line with a new one only got two thirds of the way, and has been stuck there for 60 years. The next extension took 32 years, and has never been quite right. There then ensued a 23 year effort to replace two lines that worked with replacements which were marginal, built in the early concrete slab style. Both lines avoid the traffic centers like the plague! Finally there was a line which hit the traffic centers,but was designed with an intentional bottleneck! Another $ 100 million could have built a sweeping curve deep under Harvard Sq., retained an efficient turn back point, and reduced the impact of the construction. Used so frequently in subway construction, that it became known as subway tile, the standard white 3x6 tile is nowhere to be found in any new station built since 1945, and it has been taken out of many rebuilds. Tufts Medical Center is so dark you can't tell the station from the tunnel from inside the car! Big, eye level mosaic signs are another lost art in the subway, with the exception of one station, Central, which had the least distinctive. A few exist as nods to the past, of which SOUTH STATION UNDER stands out (and it's lighted to boot). 70 years of ugly, inefficient subway lines. The architects should be hung in effigy!
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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby jbvb » Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:57 am

Do remember that while nobody would notice a male C-level executive of a $1.8B corporation with 6,000 employees wearing the same suit on three consecutive days of meetings, there are those who will snark if a prominent woman is seen in the same garments twice in a week. Some of them worked for the Herald back when it was being given away free outside North Station every afternoon; I haven't looked at a copy this decade.

Deciding to shut service down must be viewed in the light of the emergency response required to evacuate a crowded 6-car train stuck on an exposed, isolated, fenced segment of RoW. The traditional approach of bringing up another train had failed once, conspicuously and they'd been hit pretty hard in the press. One doesn't know what might have been passed down from the Gov. Fire & police could cross adjacent property, cut fences etc. but nobody wants to make a decision that might produce that level of crisis. And if someone died, on a train or leaving it, lawsuits would certainly follow.

Regarding underground crossovers - they're expensive to build & maintain and impose extra requirements on the tunnel design. So North Station has one, but they sited the one between NEMC and Back Bay out in the open. In '78, were the Green Line shuttles were being turned by reversing through the loop track at Kenmore? I recall them running on the proper tracks.

I don't know if there were engineering reasons, or if it was to reduce catenary maintenance costs, but the Blue Line changeover used to be at the Maverick platform; it was moved above to Airport more or less when that station was rebuilt.
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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:14 am

jbvb wrote:Do remember that while nobody would notice a male C-level executive of a $1.8B corporation with 6,000 employees wearing the same suit on three consecutive days of meetings, there are those who will snark if a prominent woman is seen in the same garments twice in a week. Some of them worked for the Herald back when it was being given away free outside North Station every afternoon; I haven't looked at a copy this decade.

Deciding to shut service down must be viewed in the light of the emergency response required to evacuate a crowded 6-car train stuck on an exposed, isolated, fenced segment of RoW. The traditional approach of bringing up another train had failed once, conspicuously and they'd been hit pretty hard in the press. One doesn't know what might have been passed down from the Gov. Fire & police could cross adjacent property, cut fences etc. but nobody wants to make a decision that might produce that level of crisis. And if someone died, on a train or leaving it, lawsuits would certainly follow.

Regarding underground crossovers - they're expensive to build & maintain and impose extra requirements on the tunnel design. So North Station has one, but they sited the one between NEMC and Back Bay out in the open. In '78, were the Green Line shuttles were being turned by reversing through the loop track at Kenmore? I recall them running on the proper tracks.

I don't know if there were engineering reasons, or if it was to reduce catenary maintenance costs, but the Blue Line changeover used to be at the Maverick platform; it was moved above to Airport more or less when that station was rebuilt.


BL changeover has flipped between the two stations a few times over its history. I'm sure there's logical reasons, but the logical reasons may be different by different decades and different car fleets.
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Re: MBTA GM Beverly Scott Resigns

Postby Gerry6309 » Sun Feb 15, 2015 11:04 am

In 1978 the portals at Blandford and Northeastern were open deck structures, designed to allow for future subway extensions, so snow could fall through as the vibration from the passing cars dislodged it. All they had to do was plow the platforms and crossovers. Those portals have since been filled in due to the weight of the Type 7s.

Wire to third rail changeovers were made with the train moving, while the third rail to wire changeover was made with the doors open. I don't think either is done that way now.
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