2022 40 Under 40: Alicia B. Gomes

Aug. 23, 2022
Alicia B. Gomes, Division Chief for Light Rail Operations, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

One word to describe yourself: Compassionate   

Alma Mater: Cambridge College (fall 2022) 

Fun fact about yourself: I love spending as much of my time as possible outdoors.   

Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent (and why): I think I have to say that my favorite stations are two brand new stations on the MBTA’s Green Line extension, Union Square Station and Lechmere Station.   I watched both stations be built from nothing more than a pile of dirt and transform into something beautiful.  It is also extremely surreal to know that I played a significant role along with many other outstanding people in creating operational readiness for the extension; that journey is something I will never forget.   

Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent (and why): My favorite route is the MBTA’s Mattapan High-Speed Line. The line has so much history, and riding on the old Presidential Conference Committee cars (PCCs) is fascinating.      

Alicia B. Gomes is the dedicated and dynamic leader of the MBTA’s Light Rail Operations Division which is comprised of 14 operations superintendents and supervisors and 650 front line employees and administrative staff.  

Gomes has been deeply involved in the planning and implantation of several successful safety critical projects in recent years, including light-rail speed mitigation, which is a multi-pronged program that includes the installation and monitoring of several digital speed signs along the MBTA right-of-way to enforce safe speed for all trains; and GPS speed monitoring, which is a digital system that monitors every train’s speed overlaid on a map of the operating area and alerts management when an overspeed event occurs. Gomes has also led the charge on numerous administrative projects, including the implementation of HASTUS, a new digital employee resource management and work scheduling tool. Another administrative project Gomes led for operations was the implementation of a new customer communications monitoring tool.   

In May of 2022, the MBTA opened the expansion of its light-rail system into the cities of Somerville and Medford. This project also included a new rail yard and vehicle maintenance facility. Gomes was at the front of this project throughout its implementation and opening to both pre-revenue service and successful revenue service. Gomes was totally engaged in every detail of this project, from the safe operation of train movement and storage – to all the employee logistics that are involved with opening new areas and facilities.  

Gomes continues to lead projects that are still in progress within the MBTA Light Rail Division, including GLTPS, a train collision avoidance system that will be installed on all light-rail vehicles. She is also involved in the procurement process for the replacement of the entire light-rail vehicle fleet, which is a large-scale project that will take place over the next several years.  

Gomes is a fearless and balanced leader that has a complete and high-level understanding of the technical aspects involved in delivering service in light-rail operations and the administrative responsibilities involved in the human resource and rules and policy compliance side of the house. It is rare to find a dynamic individual that can excel equally in both roles, but that is exactly what Gomes does every day.  

She consistently participates in training and private education to further develop her knowledge and skill set. She has completed all courses required by the Transportation Safety Institute (TSI) and earned a Transit Safety and Security Program Certificate (TSSP). She was also selected to participate in a week-long, immersive manager training course hosted by ENO Center for Transportation.    

Colleagues say Gomes is a valued leader who has shown tireless support for delivering safe and reliable train service to her customers, while also being a respected colleague to her peers and a supportive manager to her employees. She displays an uncanny ability to navigate internally and externally to deliver success on several projects and priorities within her area of purview.  

Is there a specific experience that led you to where you are today?    

I don’t have a specific experience; it just seems like my role in transportation leadership/management is the path I was always meant to be on.  I started my career at a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority as a light-rail motor person 15 years ago, and from the moment I started, my experience has been amazing. I remember when I first started at the MBTA, I was 22-years old, and while I was in training, I told my classmates that I wanted to learn everything about transit and play a part in all the important things that public transit has to offer. I have always been surrounded by great leaders, sometimes with different leadership styles, but always excellent leadership.     

What do you enjoy most about your job?    

Helping people. I started at the MBTA as a light-rail motor person, and one of the most important jobs is customer service. I enjoyed helping and talking to the customers. When I went into management, it became even more fulfilling because the people I am now able to help are not only the customers but my coworkers, as well. Now, I get to be someone who employees feel comfortable talking to, and I can play my part in creating a safe, productive and great working environment.    

What’s the most challenging part of your job?    

The most challenging part of my job is allowing myself to take time off.  I care so much about the people I work with and the agency as a whole that, sometimes, I forget to take time for myself.  I don’t see it as a bad thing, though, because I love what I do, so sometimes it feels like it is for myself because I get a sense of contentment.   

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?    

I am most proud of going back to school and working towards completing my education.  Working in transit can be extremely demanding, but last spring, I decided nothing would stop me from starting my educational journey to finish my degree. When I first considered enrolling in school, I almost convinced myself that I would not be able to manage the demands of a full-time job and college, but there is truth in the saying “if there is a will, there is a way.” Now, for the past two years, I have been able to manage full-time student life along with my full-time career. It has been a challenging journey, but it is definitely worth it and I am pretty proud of myself.   

Best advice/tip/best practice to share from your area of expertise?    

As you progress through your career stay humble. Keep safety and effective communication at the core of everything you do, and never stop learning. Pride yourself in playing a role that helps to cultivate an environment that promotes teamwork, creativity, innovation, diversity, equity and inclusion.  And most important, surround yourself with people with good values and adopt those values. Last but not least, ASK QUESTIONS; it shows just the right amount of professional vulnerability and your willingness to learn.