For his remaining two months as the agency’s leader, Poftak said he would be focused on preparing for “the transition to a new administration and to new leadership.”
The leadership shakeup is the latest turbulence to hit the transportation agency, which is working to comply with new federal safety directives after a year of failures that resulted in injuries to passengers and workers, and one subway passenger death, and deep cuts to subway and bus service.
In his letter, Poftak said he is proud of accomplishments the MBTA made during his tenure, including keeping service going during a pandemic.
In a statement, Governor Charlie Baker said Poftak “brought long term stability to the T when it was sorely needed.”
“The T workforce showed up every day during the pandemic when most could stay at home, and thanks to Steve’s leadership during that period, Steve and his team have continued to build a better T every day,” Baker said.
The Baker administration appointed Poftak to lead the MBTA in 2019 after former general manager Luis Ramirez left the post just 15 months into his tenure. Poftak had previously served as vice chair on the agency’s oversight board, as member of the MassDOT board, and briefly as acting general manager of the T in 2017. He is the longest serving general manager during the Baker years.
Poftak’s contract with the T was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2023, according to a copy obtained by the Globe. He declined through a spokesperson to be interviewed Tuesday.
Transit advocates who haven’t always agreed with Poftak say he has been an accessible leader, regularly keeping them in the loop on the agency’s initiatives.
State Senator Brendan Crighton, a Lynn Democrat who co-chairs the Legislature’s transportation committee, said he applauds Poftak’s work “under very difficult circumstances” and said finding a qualified new leader for the T should be a “top priority” for the next administration.
“This is a critical point for the T,” Crighton said.
“We should shoot for the stars and look for an individual capable of dealing with safety first,” who also isn’t afraid to be “aspirational in wanting to create the best possible transit system in the country,” he said.
In a statement, Senator Elizabeth Warren called Poftak’s resignation “long overdue.” Last month Warren grilled Poftak about the T’s safety failures during a congressional hearing in Boston.
“We now have a critical opportunity to make much-needed changes and ensure our public transit system is safe, reliable, and first-rate,” she said.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
Samantha J. Gross of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.