MBTA GENERAL MANAGER Steve Poftak, who is steering the beleaguered transit authority through safety and budgetary challenges, received nearly $80,000 more in his paycheck earlier this year in the form of bonuses for 2020 and 2021.
According to payroll records and state officials, Poftak received a bonus of $35,728 for 2020 and a bonus of $42,857 for 2021 for a total of $78,585.
Poftak’s annual salary is $334,617, so the 2020 bonus represented roughly 11 percent of his pay and the 2021 bonus 13 percent.
Under his contract, Poftak was entitled to a bonus of up to 15 percent in 2020 and up to 20 percent in 2021. The 2020 bonus was approved by former transportation secretary Stephanie Pollack before she left her post in January 2021 and the 2021 bonus was awarded by her successor, Jamey Tesler. The two bonuses were combined and paid out earlier this year.
Poftak gave his top deputy, Jeff Gonneville, a bonus of $23,381 for 2021, which is 8 percent of his $265,341 annual salary. Gonneville received no bonus for 2020.
Both Poftak and Gonneville receive automatic 1.5 percent salary increases every year.
Poftak’s initial contract with the T covered 2019-2021. That contract has been extended through 2023 with the bonus amount set at a maximum of 20 percent each year. Poftak is also allowed to defer any bonuses.
Poftak joined the MBTA as general manager in January 2019 after having served as executive director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He also served as the vice chair of the T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board and as a director on the board of MassDOT, the parent agency of the T.
Over the past year, Poftak has had to deal with a seemingly never-ending array of safety crises, including Green Line trolleys crashing into each other, a Red Line train dragging a man to his death, and an escalator malfunction that injured dozens of people at the Back Bay Station.
The Federal Transit Administration launched a top-to-bottom safety review of the MBTA in April and earlier this month ordered the agency to quickly deal with four immediate serious safety issues in advance of a final report in August.
The T is also facing looming deficits in its operating budget and difficulty in filling job openings.