Gov. Healey Names First-Ever MassDOT Safety Chief

Patrick Lavin worked on a 2019 independent report highlighting widespread problems at the MBTA

Office of Gov. Maura Healey

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey on Monday appointed veteran transit official Patrick Lavin, who worked on a 2019 independent report highlighting widespread problems at the MBTA, to a newly created safety role linking the T and other state transportation departments.

Lavin will become the first-ever chief safety officer at the state Department of Transportation, where the administration says he will serve as "the primary representative for overall safety issues" not only at the MBTA but also on rail, bus, paratransit and highways across Massachusetts.



Watch NBC10 Boston news for free, 24/7, wherever you are.


Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.

When he starts on Monday, May 8, Lavin will report to both Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca and to MBTA General Manager Phil Eng. Lavin will earn $325,000 per year, according to a spokesperson.

The new position adds an additional layer of oversight and management to the transportation safety hierarchy in state government. MBTA Chief Safety Officer Ron Ester, who joined in August 2020, will remain on the job and will now report to Lavin, according to a Healey spokesperson.

"Pat Lavin is a dedicated public transportation expert who shares our administration's commitment to improving safety and reliability across our transportation system, including the MBTA," Healey said in a statement. "We created this position to ensure we had a senior official coordinating efforts across all modes of transportation and driving strategies across the system to improve safety for riders and workers. I'm confident he will work closely with Secretary Fiandaca and General Manager Eng to deliver the service that the people of Massachusetts deserve."

Lavin spent the bulk of his four-decade career at New York City Transit, where he worked as a senior operations manager and ultimately senior director of operations in the office of system safety. In that role, he conducted system-wide train and bus investigations.

From 2016 to 2019, he served as chief safety officer of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in Washington, D.C. Healey's office said he implemented an agency safety plan for WMATA and oversaw new initiatives dealing with worker fatigue management and personal protective equipment.

For the past three years, Lavin has worked as director of operations safety and investigations at K&J Safety and Security Consulting Services. That role saw him help agencies address safety advisories and directives from the Federal Transit Administration, which has been heavily involved in flagging problems at the MBTA.

He has more direct MBTA experience, too: in 2019, Lavin served as a subject matter expert and technical writer on an independent safety review panel former Gov. Charlie Baker tapped to examine the T after a string of derailments.

That group concluded that the agency had a "questionable" approach to safety fueled by lapses in maintenance and inspections, fiscal belt-tightening and deficient policies, flagging problems similar to those that federal regulators identified in their own probe last summer.

"I am looking forward to working collaboratively with the MassDOT team, agency personnel, local stakeholders, and our federal partners to improve safety at the T and at a broader level across the state," Lavin said in a statement. "I am humbled by and grateful for the confidence that Governor Healey, Lieutenant Governor Driscoll and Secretary Fiandaca have placed in me, and I look forward to starting this very important work."

Fiandaca in a statement called Lavin a "nationally recognized expert in the field of transportation safety."

"Mr. Lavin has led collision and derailment investigations, evaluated organizations for compliance with regulations, managed multi-million-dollar budgets, and developed and implemented safety programs for public transportation systems. In addition, he has a familiarity with the MBTA having been part of an independent safety review several years ago, and he understands the sense of urgency now to identify issues and find solutions at the T," Fiandaca said. "We are confident he will effectively execute strategic plans which will improve safety for everyone who travels in the state, including those who use the MBTA."

The hire fulfills a campaign promise for Healey, albeit well past her self-imposed deadline. Healey said in her inaugural address she would create and fill a transportation safety chief position within her first 60 days, and she announced Lavin on her 110th day.

It also caps off a stretch of Healey reshaping the leadership and oversight of the agency as its problems continue to plague riders with slow, unreliable service. Eng started as GM on April 10, and Healey on Friday replaced three of the T's seven board members, including its chair.

Copyright State House News Service
Contact Us