Aiello: One of T’s biggest challenges is workforce
‘There is a big human capital deficit for sure’
THE HEAD OF THE MBTA oversight board said on Tuesday that one of the authority’s biggest infrastructure challenges is its management workforce.
Joseph Aiello, the chairman of the T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board, said the agency will eventually need additional state revenues to address the transit authority’s looming infrastructure issues. But he said right now the agency is having trouble spending all of the money at its disposal because it lacks the employee skills to execute on all planned projects.
“For the next couple years, we’ve got more money than we can spend,” Aiello said. “There is a big human capital deficit for sure.”
Aiello made his comments during a panel discussion at the Seaport Hotel hosted by the organization A Better City. The event focused on a report prepared by Barry Bluestone and staff at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University that zeroed in on looming infrastructure issues in the region in connection with water, transportation, trash, and energy if growth continues at the same pace through 2030.
Asked how the management ranks could be depleted with no one noticing, a fellow panel member, Tom Glynn, the CEO of the Massachusetts Port Authority, said it happens almost imperceptibly bit by bit over time. Glynn said that when he was the general manager of the T from 1989 to 1991, the agency had 7,000 employees. Today, Glynn said, the agency has 6,000 employees but provides transportation for twice as many passengers.Aiello said the MBTA plans to bring in a new management team to oversee the Green Line Extension to Somerville and Medford, and will pay the employees at much higher salaries commensurate with their responsibilities. He declined to say what the salaries would be.
Aiello praised Gov. Charlie Baker and the Legislature for taking on the MBTA as a high priority. Asked how often he confers with the governor, Aiello said he talks with the governor’s chief of staff, Steven Kadisch, every three days.