BOSTON (AP) — Phillip Eng, an engineer with decades of experience running public transit systems, has been named the general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the Boston area’s troubled public transit agency, Gov. Maura Healey announced Monday.
Eng, the former president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Long Island Rail Road and one-time interim President of New York City Transit, is currently executive vice president at the engineering consultant firm The LiRo group.
“Phil Eng is the proven leader the MBTA needs to improve safety and reliability across the system and restore the public’s trust,” Healey said in a statement. “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.”
The MBTA, which oversees the nation’s oldest subway system as well as commuter rail, bus and ferry service, has come under intense scrutiny in recent years for a series of safety issues that led to a federal review and a series of orders to fix the problem.
The Federal Transit Administration in June issued four “special directives” that required the MBTA to better staff its operations control center; improve track maintenance; address unintended and uncontrolled train movements in maintenance facilities and rail yards; and ensure that all employee training certifications are up to date.
Problems included the death of a subway rider last April who was dragged along a platform when his arm got stuck in a malfunctioning subway car door. Nine people were injured in September 2021 when an escalator at a station malfunctioned, and more than two dozen people went to the hospital in July 2021 when a Green Line train rear-ended another trolley.
Last July, a subway train caught fire as it was crossing a bridge north of Boston, prompting one passenger to jump into the Mystic River and others to scramble out of windows.
“It’s time for a new way of doing business at the MBTA,” Eng said in a statement. “As an engineer, a transportation professional for 40 years, and a commuter myself, I’m laser focused on finding innovative solutions to complex problems and approaching them with a sense of urgency that always puts the customer first.”
As interim president of NYC Transit, he was integral in initiating and implementing the $836 million plan to fix aging infrastructure and improve performance. As President of the MTA Long Island Rail Road from 2018 to 2022, he turned around on-time performance and oversaw the implementation of technology that improved the accuracy of train arrival time estimates.
Steve Poftak, the MBTA’s previous general manager, stepped down in January just before Healey took office. Jeff Gonneville has served as interim general manager and will assist with the transition to new management.