Shortsleeve move to T board opposed

Also: Ferry savings, new Silver Line route

THE MASSACHUSETTS SENIOR ACTION COUNCIL and other advocacy groups on Monday came out against the appointment of Brian Shortsleeve to the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board starting July 1.

The opposition, which surfaced during the public comment period at the control board’s weekly meeting, is unlikely to have any impact. Gov. Charlie Baker has already announced Shortsleeve’s appointment to the board. And Joseph Aiello, the control board’s chairman, praised Shortsleeve for “two extraordinary years of public service.”

Shortsleeve, the T’s chief administrator and acting general manager, is preparing to step down from his post and move to the control board, filling the slot currently occupied by Steve Poftak. Poftak will serve temporarily as the T’s acting general manager and is expected to return to the board once a permanent general manager is hired later this year.

The groups said Shortsleeve, who has championed privatization of T operations and been a relentless advocate for cost savings at the agency’s paratransit service, shouldn’t be allowed to join the board. They said it would be difficult for him to conduct an independent review of policies he helped launch. And they worried his appointment could raise conflict-of-interest issues since he has declined to say what he intends to do professionally after he leaves the T.

“We believe it is in direct conflict with the public interest,” Kathy Paul, a member of the senior action council, said of Shortsleeve’s appointment.

Three officials quickly endorsed Shortsleeve’s appointment to the control board. Greg Sullivan, research director of the Pioneer Institute, which has backed Shortsleeve’s privatization efforts, said he strongly disagreed with the senior action council. Sam Tyler, the head of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, said he was thrilled by the governor’s move to put Shortsleeve on the board. Andrew Bagley, vice president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, also voiced support for Shortsleeve, saying “he’s brought stability to the organization.”

T shaves $4.3m off ferry contract

The MBTA said on Monday it shaved $4.3 million off a contract to provide ferry service to Boston from Hull, Hingham, and Charlestown without affecting service.

Gerard Polcari, the MBTA’s chief procurement officer, said the savings came about through negotiations with the vendor, Boston Harbor Cruises. The company was allowed to utilize the T’s diesel fuel contract, saving it about 60 cents per gallon. The T also did away with a mandate requiring two captains on each ferry and set aside just one backup ferry for the Hull and Hingham routes rather than having a backup for each one.

The Fiscal and Management Control Board unanimously approved the $11 million contract, which was $4.3 million less than the original estimate and 28 percent lower than the current contract.

Chelsea-South Station bus service in works

The MBTA plans to launch bus service from South Station to East Boston and Chelsea in April 2018, allowing residents north of Boston another way to reach the bustling Seaport District more directly.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The bus route will follow existing Silver Line service from South Station through the Seaport District to Logan Airport, but rather than stopping at the airline terminals it would proceed directly to the Blue Line stop at the airport. From there it would follow a bypass road in East Boston to a new 1.1 mile busway to Chelsea’s commuter rail stop.

T officials say the new bus route will cut travel time between Chelsea and the World Trade Center from 37 to 19 minutes. Travel time between the airport Blue Line station and the World Trade Center would fall from 20 to 7 minutes. The T is forecasting 8,730 riders a day on the line.