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Former Long Island Transit Boss Phillip Eng Will Be T’s Next General Manager

Phillip Eng headshot: a middle-aged man with close-cropped hair wearing a dark grey suit and red tie.

Phillip Eng

Governor Healey announced Monday that her administration would hire former Long Island Railroad president Phillip Eng to be the next General Manager of the MBTA, at a time when the agency is struggling with serious safety, reliability, and workforce problems.

Eng is a lifelong civil engineer who started his career in 1983 with the New York State Department of Transportation, where he was involved in several major roadway and bridge projects.

In 2017, Eng joined the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), and shortly after that, he stepped up to lead the MTA's Long Island Railroad (LIRR) in the wake of an embarrassing state audit that found that the railroad's on-time performance was the regional rail system’s worst in 18 years.

By 2021, the LIRR set a new record for the best on-time performance in the agency's history, although ridership that year was roughly 39 percent of its pre-pandemic levels. Eng announced his retirement from the MTA in February 2022.

“Phil Eng is the proven leader the MBTA needs to improve safety and reliability across the system and restore the public’s trust,” said Governor Healey in a press release announcing the hire. “He understands that a functioning transportation system is essential to a functioning economy, and he has a track record of taking the reins of struggling public transit systems and dramatically improving service. He also takes a collaborative approach to his work and maintains open lines of communication with customers, workers, businesses, local officials and communities.”

Lisa Daglian, the Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, a state-funded rider advocacy group, affirmed those acclamations in a phone call with StreetsblogMASS on Monday morning.

"I think he's terrific," Daglian said. "Nothing happens overnight, but he's got the experience, and the fact that he works closely with people and wants to do things in a way that is collaborative is going to bode well for the MBTA."

Daglian credited Eng's engineering experience and creativity for his success in implementing improvements to the LIRR during his relatively short tenure there.

For instance, under Eng's oversight, the LIRR eliminated numerous at-grade railroad crossings by pre-fabricating new bridges off-site, then sliding them into place in the span of a single weekend to minimize service disruptions.

"The LIRR is 185 years old," said Daglian. "It’s big, it's old; it has lines that go into dark territory without modern signals... Phil oversaw the expansion of the railroad with East Side Access and the completion of the third track (on the railroad's main line), which really improved reliability and reverse commute options."

According to the Governor's office, Eng plans to move with his family from Long Island to Massachusetts to begin work at the MBTA on April 10. 

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