All the managers in the world won't fix the T, Bev Scott says

CommonWealth Magazine tracks down Bev Scott and talks to her about the T, and what she thinks it needs - starting with training to ensure people who can deal with a complex system stick around, especially since the pay sucks and the state's taking away the benefits that made up for that:

It’s the rank and file, the people who are out there on the line making sure that these services, these signals, these cables, these millions of pieces that move are being worked on. You just don’t go hire these people off the street. All of the old feeder systems that people used to have from the defense industry, the vocational, technical programs, apprenticeship programs and those kinds of things are almost lost, if you will.

Don't worry, non-transit wonks, keep reading for the Bev Scott you loved during that press conference:

I am not a crooked person. I am not a stupid person. I have enjoyed and respect public service, so I am never a lavish person. Bev ain’t going on no junkets!

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Although she's spot on about

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Although she's spot on about management pay. I attempted to (more on this in a moment) interview for a position in their planning department a few years back, but quickly realized that even with a masters' degree and several years industry experience, I'd have been paid less than the majority of station agents, not even counting the fact that the non-wage benefits wouldn't have been as good either. I ended up joining with a consulting firm, where I'm essentially doing the same type of work (not for the T) with significantly better compensation.

Oh, and as to the attempted interview--I was actually scheduled for an interview by the HR contact, took time off from my then job to show up, and then discovered that not only was the HR person out of the office, she had failed to schedule me for any interviews (for what its worth, I had the interview offer in writing via email, so it wasn't just a misunderstanding of dates). That was when I realized that if the T didn't even respect my time as a candidate, there was no way they would do so as an employee. Of course, that particular HR person is still around, seven plus years later, as I still see the name attached to job postings.

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Are you implying that people

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Are you implying that people with degrees are the only ones worthy of making a good salary?

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Not at all--I never said the

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Not at all--I never said the customer service agents should get paid less. But there's something wrong when a job that only requires a high school diploma pays better than a job that requires a graduate degree plus experience.

Specifically, it seems that everyone want the T to be run well, but not pay the people who are best positioned to make it happen. To be fair, the exact same problem exists everywhere in public service, such as in our public schools--many of the folks who would make the best teachers go off elsewhere because they can make a lot more in the private sector. Quite simply, you get what you (don't) pay for.

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Since few companies provide extensive....

... on the job training, it just might be that people need to obtain training on specialized fields of study (and the techniques that go along woth these) in order to get (and be able to do) jobs that _require_ specialized knowledge and abilities.

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Oh please, most non

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Oh please, most non-engineering/science/math people around here learn nothing in grad school..

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Looked at the data, good

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Looked at the data, good middle class numbers. Those over 100K in mostly in management or ranking police officers. Missing is the amount of overtime worked to earn the money.
Implicit in most of these discussions around state employees is the idea that some how they work less than anyone in the private sector. I would deny that. Just as in the private sector there are good, bad and average employees. I am sure that anyone who looks around his or her workplace recognizes that some folks are better than others.

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As several investigations

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As several investigations have shown, the T's spending on maintenance is way higher than normal for the U.S. public transit industry. Even after accounting for the age of the fleet.

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Hired?

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Maybe by Fung Wha where you'll get $12 an hour and a fire extinguisher.

If you wanna drive with the big boys, union only.

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Fine, I'll join the union

Was just trying to save the T a few pennies. Labor, like any commodity, is a great deal when you're getting more than what you pay for.

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Better than MegaSuck

$10 bucks an hour and you get 30 minutes to figure out on your phone where you are going. They will be sure to call you only a half hour after the bus was scheduled to leave. Remember the girlfriend who came here to explain how the workers are treated and ended up begging for tips for the drivers?

FungWah hasn't had any fatalities.

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An interesting point about the "feeder systems".

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We used to talk about this in the context of airline pilots - that the feeder system from the military was drying up. The notion held by some was that when it hits the fan, you want the people with military training (and the stresses, discipline, etc. that go with it) at the controls. Those same people routinely held up Sully Sullenberger's coolness during the Hudson ditching (the calm statement, "we're gonna be in the Hudson") as an example of why.

Bev's probably onto something there.

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The truth won't sell

a Herald. Bev Scott will be blamed for T woes for the next 20 years and John Q. Public will buy that excuse again and again.

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"But for Scott, folding the

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"But for Scott, folding the MBTA into MassDOT would mean that the governor would be in control and accountable for the agency."

Wait, so the T isn't part of MassDOT?

And they don't answer to the governor? Then who do they answer to? I certainly don't get to vote for the MBTA Board of Directors.

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its complex issue

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Its a quasi-agency of MassDOT. MassDOT has a board that overseas the T, but does not have direct management of it. Its hard to explain why it's different except its a 'quasi-agency' of the state.

Maybe someone else can explain this better than I can?

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Not that this helps much...

"MassDOT is administered by a Secretary of Transportation, appointed by the Governor to serve as Chief Executive Officer. The organization oversees four new divisions: Highway, Mass Transit, Aeronautics and the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), in addition to an Office of Planning and Programming."

[prev] "This [MassDOT Board of Directors] will be the governing body of both MassDOT and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), which will be part of MassDOT but will retain a separate legal existence. "

http://www.mbta.com/about_the_mbta/leadership/

And then, from M.G.L. c. 161A establishing the T

The area constituting the authority and the inhabitants thereof are hereby made a body politic and corporate, and a political subdivision of the commonwealth, under the name of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The authority shall have power to hold property, to sue and be sued in law and equity and to prosecute and defend all actions relating to its property and affairs. The authority shall be liable for its debts and obligations, but the property of the authority shall not be subject to attachment nor levied upon by execution or otherwise. Process may be served upon the treasurer of the authority or, in the absence of the treasurer, upon any member of the board.

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXXII/Chapter161A

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she's right

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she's 100% right. I loved that article and how candid she was about it. And I agree.. it's a system that is broken beyond belief and should just be folded into MassDOT as a full division. Its almost run that way anyways, yet it's not.

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Hmm

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Why wasn't she calling for this while she was running the T? Didn't want to lose her paycheck? Her travel budget?

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Like her predecessors

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Her hands are tied. Its up to the MassDOT board and the legislators to do that. She has no control over this. Sure she can suggest it, but she has no say in the matter. And yes maybe some of it was done because she'd be out of a job.. but that can be applied anywhere to any job. if I walked into the CEOs office and said "this company sucks, let's dissolve it", I'd probably be escorted out shortly after.

And as far as the travel budget.. getting real tired of hearing about this. Read the article, she debunks all of that. Its called professional development. I do it for my job.. conferences are not fun but you do meet many people in your industry to talk about how to do things better, share ideas, and learn about new technologies. And yes it works that way in transit conferences too (I mean don't you want the T to learn about better snow removal and de-icing techniques?!?) sure they are in nice locations but you often spend most of your time in meeting rooms and forums discussing things so it's far from a vacation.

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"professional development"

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Sure, there's absolutely a need to travel in that position....but 30 trips in 2 years? 106 days? $56,000 in travel expenses in 2 years? That's excessive.

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That's cheap if you do the math.

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That's VERY cheap.. works out to be 1k per trip. Considering what hotels and airfare costs these days, that's a steal.

Last conference I went to in Las Vegas cost my company around 2500 bucks a head including hotel, airfare, meals, and expenses. So 1k is pretty darn good.

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30 trips in 2 years? 106 days

30 trips in 2 years? 106 days? $56,000 in travel expenses in 2 years?

How many trips would have been reasonable? What amount of money? How many days?

Don't forget to show your work.

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Tell us your experience with that

In a professional environment.

Mine? Works for short well organized calls. Does not work well for complicated presentations and larger group interactions.

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