After hitting up the T during rush hour today to mingle with Boston-area commuters, Dr. Beverly Scott took to the web to answer questions from the same riders who will pay her salary when she takes over next month as the MBTA’s new general manager.
During an hour-long live chat on Boston.com, T customers grilled Scott how she plans to handle the transit agency’s budget gap, and what they considered to be poor service.
One customer went so far as to call the transit agency "a hot mess."
"I don't think of it as a hot mess," Scott replied on the forum. "We have plenty of challenges and opportunities in front of us. Working together we will get there."
She went on to field questions about funding, or a lack thereof, growing ridership, and simple conveniences, like wireless internet access at all stations and countdown signs.
One curious customer, who called himself Samuel, asked Scott: "You have said your role as MBTA GM is to fight for more funding. Why do you not see your job as a manager to work with the money that you already have? Do you believe there is opportunity for cutting significant waste and mismanagement?"
Scott fired back by saying the struggling transit agency can not cut itself into prosperity.
"We will continue to look at internal (productivity) and cost containment and being a good steward of public dollars," she said. "At the same time, though, just doing cost cutting alone won't result in the kinds of resources we really need to move forward. Hold us accountable but we cannot punt on this any longer."
Earlier that day, joined by Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey at South Station, Scott told reporters she is encouraged by the feedback she has gotten about the transportation system, but is aware that people’s finances are tight.
"People here get it. This community gets it… We are not obviously in any kind of periods of abundance. These are periods of scarcity and so figuring out exactly what’s the right combination in terms of how we move forward is the challenge," she said.
Scott will take over as the MBTA's new general manager on Dec. 15.