BOSTON (AP) — A business executive with experience in corporate turnarounds but none in transportation was hired Tuesday as the head of the Boston area’s troubled public transit system.
Luis Manuel Ramirez takes over as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s general manager/chief executive on Sept. 12, state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said. His lack of experience running a transit agency is not a detriment, she said.
“With the support he’ll have from the strong operational and other leadership already at the T, Luis will get up to speed very quickly,” she said.
Ramirez, who is the son of a Cuban refugee and was raised in Florida, said the agency, which runs subway, commuter rail, bus and ferry service, is already on solid footing.
“My job is to build upon the solid foundation of the people standing here and help create a long-term roadmap and plan to fully transform the T into what it needs to be: a world class transportation system serving the people of a world class city and commonwealth,” he said.
The MBTA has been under intense scrutiny since operations were crippled during the winter of 2015. In response, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker created a fiscal control board to oversee the agency.
The MBTA is also deep in debt, is plagued by service delays, has an underfunded pension system and faces union resistance to privatization efforts.
The president of the Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589, James O’Brien, said the MBTA needs “real investments in the system’s infrastructure — vehicles of all types, signals and tracks.”
The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, an independent watchdog group, welcomed the appointment of Ramirez.
“Mr. Ramirez’s business background and expertise in complex turnarounds makes him the ideal person to lead the authority forward,” President Eileen McAnneny said.
Ramirez has worked at Unisys Corp., Siemens AG and General Electric Corp., where he rose to CEO of its Energy Industrial Solutions business during his 12 years there. He more recently ran his own turnaround business consulting firm.
Ramirez will be paid $320,000 a year, with the possibility of bonuses, under a three-year contract.