Meet the 5 people tasked with saving the MBTA

Gov. Charlie Baker hopes to avoid another winter of discontent for the MBTA.
Gov. Charlie Baker hopes to avoid another winter of discontent for the MBTA. –Getty Images

The MBTA has new leadership, and it’s their job to get the cash-strapped agency on track.

Gov. Charlie Baker swore in five members to the system’s new fiscal and management control board Friday, a big step in Baker’s ongoing efforts to right the T.

Baker has pressed for the new board since April, following the T’s winter weather crisis, when crippling snowstorms brought trains to a halt. The board was ultimately created as part of the state budget for the new fiscal year, which Baker signed Friday.

Baker has said the transit system’s problems require a dedicated governing body with broad authority to focus exclusively on its issues. The T has been governed since 2009 by the broader Massachusetts Department of Transportation board of directors.

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The new board will be chaired by Joseph Aiello, a partner at Meridiam Infrastructure, a private company that builds and manages infrastructure projects. Aiello worked at the MBTA in the past, the governor’s office said in a news release.

It will also include:

• Lisa Calise, the CFO at the Perkins School for the Blind and a former financial official for the city of Boston

• Brian Lang, the leader of a local hotel and food services union

• Steve Poftak, the executive director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard Kennedy School

• Monica G. Tibbits-Nutt, the executive director of the 128 Business Council, which oversees commuter shuttle routes from the suburbs.

Lang and Poftak were previously appointed by Baker to the MassDOT board earlier this year, after Baker received the resignations of the six board members he inherited from former Gov. Deval Patrick when he took office in January.

The fiscal and management control board will meet for the first time next Tuesday. It will exist for three to five years.

Baker appointed a group to study the T’s problems in late February. The group came back in April recommending the control board and other reforms, and Baker began pushing for them shortly thereafter.

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The budget includes another MBTA reform Baker had pushed for, this one more controversial. It reprieves the MBTA from a law that adds a high level of bureaucracy for state agencies to contract services to private companies.

The proposal set the stage for a tough political fight and heated opposition from MBTA labor leaders. But the legislature ultimately broke Baker’s way, exempting the MBTA from the law for three years. Baker has said late-night bus service is one area the state could look to privatize.

As part of his plan for the T, Baker has also committed more than $80 million to prepare the system for winter weather, with work beginning this summer.

Winter weather woes on the MBTA

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