James “Jay” Neider was reportedly let go last week, as the Healey administration ushers in a new set of MBTA leaders.
A top MBTA executive who oversaw some of the agency’s biggest construction projects has been dismissed.
James “Jay” Neider was let go from his $275,000-a-year job last Friday, The Boston Globe reported. His termination is part of a wider effort from the Healey administration to change the MBTA’s leadership structure, which was inherited from the Baker administration.
On Monday, Gov. Maura Healey announced that Phillip Eng would be the MBTA’s next General Manager. Eng previously led the Long Island Rail Road.
There were internal concerns regarding how much time Neider spent outside of Massachusetts, the Globe reported. A source told the paper that he was not fired for working remotely, and had an arrangement that allowed him to spend time working from out of state.
Neider reportedly did just that, spending significant time in Hawaii, Wisconsin, and even the Middle East. Property records reviewed by the Globe showed that he owns houses in Arizona and Delaware, but not Massachusetts.
One source told the Globe that Neider’s penchant for working out-of-state made it hard for him to forge relationships with colleagues, and prevented him from regularly appearing at construction sites.
An MBTA spokesperson confirmed that Neider is no longer with the agency, but did not specify that he was fired.
“Jay came to the T in 2019 bringing with him a wealth of construction engineering expertise and I want to express my thanks to Jay for his work at the Authority,” Interim General Manager Jeff Gonneville said in a statement.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Neider told a reporter that he could not comment.
“Why don’t you give it a few days?” he told the Globe. “I’m still working through some things with my advisers. I’m not able to comment on anything right now.”
Neider garnered a reputation for not collaborating closely with those in MBTA operations and construction, anonymous sources told the Globe.
One source did tell the paper that Neider performed well as Chief of Capital Programs, ramping up the pace of capital spending.
“You have to give him credit,” the source told the Globe.“ He did what he was supposed to do, but he ruffled a lot of feathers.”
But the outsized emphasis on capital projects hampered the MBTA, according to a scathing report issued by the Federal Transit Administration last year. The report was the result of a wide-ranging safety inspection prompted by a number of serious, sometimes fatal incidents.
Prioritizing capital projects came at the detriment of the agency’s regular operations and maintenance, the FTA found. The agency was able to operate without adequate staffing, training, or supervision, causing a lack of safety oversight.
The MBTA’s capital budget more than doubled over the last four years, according to the report, from $875 million in fiscal Year 2018 to over $2 billion in fiscal Year 2022. Concurrently, the agency was recovering from funding cuts made from 2015 through 2019 that caused serious staffing shortages.
This focus on capital projects lead to a lackluster safety culture, the FTA found.
“FTA found that unwritten norms have emerged that emphasize a ‘get it done and go’ mentality over following safety rules or ensuring compliance with minimum safety standards, particularly when staff are working 12 to 16-hour days, six days a week,” the report said.
Stay up to date on all the latest news from Boston.com
Source : https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2023/03/29/high-ranking-mbta-executive-capital-projects-fired-neider/