Ramirez leaves MBTA; Poftak named new general manager

Dec. 12, 2018
Ramirez and MBTA "mutually agreed" to separate; MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville will fill GM position until Poftak assumes role on Jan.1, 2019.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has named MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board (FCMB) Vice Chair Steve Poftak as general manager following the departure of Luis Ramirez, who has been at the authority's helm for the past 15 months.

Poftak served in the GM role in an interim basis in 2017 and will officially begin Jan. 1, 2019, with MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville managing the general manager role until Poftak begins. MBTA says Poftak brings a passion for public transportation, as well as 16 years of public policy experience and a deep knowledge of MBTA operations and finances to the role. 

“The more I have been exposed to the MBTA’s workings from the inside, the greater respect I have for the ability of the MBTA workforce and managers to operate this enormously complex system every day and to develop and implement ways to improve performance. I am excited about leading the MBTA to provide a premier region with a premier transit agency,” said Poftak.

Ramirez is departing to pursue other opportunities after he and MBTA "mutually agreed that the time was right for him to separate." He was named general manager in September 2017 and was brought in from the private sector based on his track record of leading organizations through large and complex transformation efforts. 

“I was brought in to the MBTA from the outside corporate world to bring a fresh business perspective and skills to the MBTA,” he said. “With the progress we have achieved around financial and operational execution, this is a good time to transition to someone with different skill sets.”

Ramirez said he is proud of what he was able to accomplish while serving in the role and Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack credited him with the successes of several operations and safety initiatives.

“Luis’s decades of executive experience were valuable for the MBTA, helping to turn around key initiatives such as procuring a new operator for The RIDE dispatch center, advocating for bus lanes and ensuring on-time installation of Positive Train Control. We thank Luis for his important contributions to the MBTA and wish him well,” said Secretary Pollack.

She added that the choice of Poftak to succeed Ramirez as general manager was due, in part, to the recognition that seasoned leadership is a tool for success.

“Steve Poftak is the right person to facilitate a smooth transition and continue the important work to reform the MBTA for customers,” Secretary Pollack said. “Steve knows the personnel, he knows the issues, he knows the system and most of all, Steve knows the importance of accelerating progress toward fixing the MBTA.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.