The MBTA has a new top executive, but Gov. Charlie Baker is still searching for a permanent CEO for the troubled transit agency.
Harvard institute director Steve Poftak will take the reins from current acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve, who was brought on to help turn around the agency's finances. Shortsleeve took over as GM on an interim basis last May to replace the ailing Frank Depaola.
Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said the search for the next permanent GM will last as long as necessary. When beginning the search in February, Baker said he was looking for a "turnaround CEO" to take over the T.
"The T is improving. We're moving towards the kind of MBTA that the region needs and deserves, but the job isn't done," Pollack said Thursday at a State House press conference to announce the new T managment lineup.
Poftak is a transportation policy expert and the executive director of the Rappaport Center at Harvard's Kennedy School. He's been the vice chair of the T's control board since it was created in 2015 and will now become acting General Manager on July 1.
"I believe there are few institutions as foundation to the region's social and economic health as the MBTA," Poftak said.
Pollack said the state will pay Poftak a higher salary than the $175,000 Shortsleeve earned to show prospective candidates for the permanent job that the T will pay well for the right executive.
“Incoming Interim General Manager Steve Poftak has been engaged in improving transportation in Massachusetts for more than a decade. He is a regular T rider and cares about the rider experience. We look forward to working with him as he leads the agency through this transition," transit advocacy group Transportation for Massachusetts director Chris Dempsey wrote in a statement.
Shortsleeve will take Poftak's place on the MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board. The volunteer panel meets once a week, leaving time for Shortsleeve to return to the private sector. Shortsleeve is a former Bain Capital executive.