More than three months after the expiration of the previous MBTA board of directors, Governor Charlie Baker on Thursday gave birth to his successor by announcing the appointments to the board of directors of the transport authority.
The panel will be chaired by Betsy Taylor, a six-year veteran of the state Department of Transportation’s board of directors. Baker also selected Robert Butler, vice-president of the AFL-CIO of Massachusetts; Thomas “Scott” Darling, security consultant; Travis McCready, executive director of the US Life Sciences Market for JLL; and Mary Beth Mello, director of Mello Transportation Consulting.
The five Baker appointees bolster the board, convening a governing body to oversee the MBTA as it overcomes the pitfalls of pandemic ridership, looming budget variances and a series of incidents that have renewed the scrutiny of the transport agency.
Stacy Thompson, executive director of the LivableStreets Alliance, said she was “cautiously optimistic” that the new board will rise to the task despite the fact that no member of the tax audit and management board and a gap of several months between the final meeting of this predecessor panel and the first meeting of the new board of directors, which has not yet been scheduled.
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“Since there is no board member who sat on the previous board and the gap is quite long, that means this board has a lot of catching up to do and a lot of work to do and basically no time to do it, ”Thompson said in an interview.
During her tenure on the MassDOT board of directors, Taylor served as treasurer and chaired the finance and audit subcommittee, which met regularly to review financial matters. Taylor pushed the department to create and fill a Chief Compliance Officer position, and she co-chairs its Allston I-90 finance team. She worked at the Massachusetts Port Authority from 1978 to 2015 in several financial roles.
The law creating the new panel guaranteed a seat for a union representative. Butler, who is also chairman of the Northeastern Regional Council of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transport Workers, was one of three people on a shortlist that the AFL -CIO of Massachusetts presented to Baker.
Darling returns to the MBTA after a previous stint at the agency from 2008-2012 as Deputy Chief of Staff and Deputy General Counsel. He also worked as the Chief Safety, Security and Control Center Operations for the Chicago Transit Authority.
Before McCready joined JLL, he was president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and vice president of programs for the Boston Foundation. McCready is the designated council member representing environmental justice populations.
Mello worked with the Railways and Transit Division of MassDOT on matters relating to regional transport authorities as a consultant. During a tenure with the Federal Transit Administration that spanned from 1993 to 2010, she oversaw federal funding for the Green Line extension and a series of other projects.
The new board will have seven members, two more than the Tax and Management Board which expired on June 30. Transport Secretary Jamey Tesler will be on the panel, as will Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, a Baker ally who was previously appointed by the independent MBTA Advisory Board which represents municipalities that help fund T.
All members of the Board of Directors, except the Secretary of Transportation, will serve four-year terms without compensation, although they may be reimbursed for travel and other expenses up to $ 6,000 per year.
The MBTA continues to struggle with a considerably depleted ridership base over a year and a half after the COVID-19 hit, leaving long-term commuting patterns and revenue plans evolving as the agency s he is drawing on about $ 2 billion in federal aid to close the gaps.
A Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report released in September warned that the MBTA could face a “tax calamity” in several years if the agency does not substantially reorganize its finances or if lawmakers decide to allocate more dollars. to public transport.
Beacon Hill authorized the dissolution of the FMCB Tax Review and Management Board on June 30, and Baker signed a law on July 29 establishing a permanent seven-member board of directors for the MBTA.