Keller @ Large: New MBTA GM Eligible For Large, Questionable Bonuses

BOSTON (CBS) – Newly named MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez could end up with a giant pay package if he’s able to improve the struggling transit system.

However, while some of the fulfillment requirements for a bonus make sense, others appear to just be part of the job.

Ramirez will receive a $320,000 base salary with automatic 1.5 percent annual raises, but that’s not all.

He is eligible for up to $32,000 in bonuses after his first year on the job, $48,000 after his second year, and $64,000 after his third.

That’s a potential three-year windfall of $144,000, or 45-percent of his base pay.

To earn those bonuses, Ramirez must fulfill key performance indicators to the satisfaction of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollock, including some that seem specific and appropriate, such as:

Limiting the T’s troublesome structural budget deficit to $30 million, and hitting targets for bringing in new revenues to keep fares in check; improving on-time performance on the subways, buses and commuter rail; and completing long-overdue changes in MBTA salary scales.

mbta Keller @ Large: New MBTA GM Eligible For Large, Questionable Bonuses

MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez. (WBZ-TV)

If Ramirez can complete those clearly-defined tasks, he’ll be the toast of the town.

But some of his key performance indicators are eyebrow-raisers:

“Ensuring organizational focus” seems like a fundamental part of the job, not bonus material.

Ditto for “filling key vacancies,” for which he’s been given $2.5 million to play with.

And “overseeing labor relations?” If that isn’t a core function of being T General Manager, what is?

This kind of bonus structure is relatively new at the T, and it’s been a source of controversy in some other cities.

But in a statement to WBZ-TV, an MBTA spokeswoman stands behind it, writing: “The MBTA hopes to drive current and future performance through the use of a bonus structure. This list… formally illustrates the focus of General Manager Ramirez for the first year of the contract only.”

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