Boston's regional transit chief Dr. Beverly Scott is stepping down, effective April 11, amid criticism of how her agency handled delays, suspensions and massive snowfall.
On Tuesday, Scott defended her decision to suspend the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's rail service for more than 24 hours as crews struggled to clear the tracks. This decision was highly criticized as thousands of commuters scrambled to make alternative travel plans.
On her way out of her office Wednesday, Scott, surrounded by staff, said very little in the way of explaining the bombshell announcement.
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"Were you forced out?" a reporter asked.
"I never give up on anything," she replied.
The surprising announcement came hours after the Massachusetts Board of Transportation gave her a full vote of confidence, at a meeting in which she spoke.
When asked Tuesday why he had not yet huddled directly with Scott, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he had no direct control over the MBTA and was dealing with the agency through Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack, who has a seat on its board of directors.
Dr. Scott sent a letter Wednesday to the MassDot Board of Directors.
"Over the next sixty days, I will work with you, and the Board, to effect a smooth transition. During this period, I will place priority attention on working with our team to: return 'T' services to normalcy," said Scott.
Gov. Baker's office issued a statement following Scott's resignation that read, in part, "The Governor and Lt. Governor were surprised to learn of Dr. Scott's resignation this afternoon. They thank her for her contribution to the Commonwealth and are grateful for her offer of assistance as the MBTA transitions to a new General Manager."
"I thank Dr. Beverly Scott for her deep commitment to our public transportation system and to the people of Boston and the Commonwealth," said Mayor Marty Walsh in a statement. "She has shown leadership and courage during the challenges we are facing, and I wish her the best of luck in the future. I look forward to working with the Governor to improve our public transportation system to better serve our residents who rely on it everyday."
Rail service partially resumed Wednesday morning after being shut down for more than 24 hours as crews cleared snow and ice that had built up on the tracks from recent storms.
"During these past two years-plus, it has been an absolute pleasure and honor to serve with and lead this dedicated team of transit professional and public servants," said Scott.
As the long commute home began Wednesday with limited MBTA service continuing, some MBTA riders were surprised to hear of the resignation.
"Really, the lady that was on yesterday?" said John Dovoses of East Weymouth. "It's not really her fault. I mean, you've got to deal with what you've got."
The recent performance of the MBTA has also raised questions about whether the aging system can be modernized enough to handle the Olympic Games -- should they take place in Boston in 2024.
"We are running an extremely aged system that is getting a pounding every single day," said Scott earlier this week.
Wednesday, commuters had mixed views on whether Scott's decision to step down would actually help the T improve service.
"I can see why she did that," said Alisa Raymond of Randolph, who had a two-hour commute Wednesday morning. "I watched her YouTube video the other day, and I feel like the management could be a lot better than what it is right now."
"I feel bad for her, I don't know, I don't think she necessarily caused this," said Kristen Braithwaite of Weymouth, who had a three-hour morning commute. "I think we need more money into the system, I don't really see how things get better otherwise."
Throughout the day, the buses couldn’t come fast enough to shuttle commuters on the T’s Red Line route between Braintree and JFK stations Wednesday – just one of several areas experiencing service interruptions after the MBTA resumed limited rail service after a 30 hour shut down.
"Forty-five minutes we've been waiting," said Leanne Hindy of South Weymouth. "It's taking a while."
"Oh my God, this is ridiculous," said Cedric King of Quincy. "The wait alone just for the buses is tiring, we're cold."
"I am stunned by the resignation of Dr. Scott. Be clear, this Board has had no discussions at any time about her tenure as General Manager. We hoped and expected that she would fulfill her three year contract, which ends in December of this year. I want to thank Dr. Scott for her skillful and committed leadership over the last 26 months, and wish her the very best as she moves on to her next challenge. In the coming weeks, I will appoint a sub-committee of the Board to direct a nationwide search for her replacement," said John Jenkins, Chairman of the MassDot Board of Directors.
Scott was appointed in 2012 after managing transit systems in Atlanta, Sacramento and Rhode Island and holding leadership positions in others including the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York.
"For me, the special 'X Factor' at the 'T' will always be its people," said Scott.
Scott did not give a specific reason for her departure.