Local News

Healey taps former Long Island Rail Road president to lead MBTA

Phillip Eng, a 40-year transportation veteran, called for "a new way of doing business" at the embattled public transit agency.

Then-Long Island Rail Road President Phillip Eng, center, talks to evening rush hour commuters at Penn Station in New York, April 17, 2018.
Then-Long Island Rail Road President Phillip Eng, center, talks to evening rush hour commuters at Penn Station in New York, April 17, 2018. Mary Altaffer / AP, File

Phillip Eng, a 40-year transportation veteran who previously led the Long Island Rail Road, will be the MBTA’s next general manager, Gov. Maura Healey announced Monday.

“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

Eng’s appointment is the culmination of a months-long search, one of Healey’s most notable trials since taking office in January. He will begin his new role on April 10. 

Who is Phillip Eng, the new MBTA GM? 

Eng’s career has spanned multiple agencies, beginning with the New York State Department of Transportation in the 1980s. 


He also served as chief operating officer for the MTA, the public transit agency for the New York City area. As interim president of the MTA’s NYC Transit, Eng was integral in initiating and implementing a $836 million Subway Action Plan to address aging infrastructure and improve performance systemwide, the Healey administration noted in a news release. 

Eng later took the reins at the LIRR, which ferries about 200,000 customers each weekday, making it the busiest commuter rail system in North America. By comparison, the MBTA’s average weekday ridership in January was 694,954 riders, spread out over subways, buses, commuter rail trains, ferries, and The RIDE. 

The LIRR was experiencing a rocky period when Eng took over in 2018; just one year prior, the line marked its worst on-time performance in 18 years, according to the state comptroller. Within a few years under Eng’s leadership, however, the LIRR saw its best on-time performance since modern record-keeping began in the 1970s. 

Eng is currently executive vice president of The LiRo Group, an engineering consultant firm he joined after announcing his retirement from the LIRR in early 2022. Through that position, he’s worked with several public transportation agencies in the Northeast, the T included. 


Eng and his wife Carole will relocate from Long Island to Massachusetts, according to Monday’s news release. 

‘A new way of doing business’

Eng joins the MBTA during a transitional period for the embattled agency, taking the helm at a time when aging infrastructure, service disruptions, slow zones, and safety concerns have become the norm for frustrated T riders.

The Federal Transit Administration released a report last summer documenting safety shortcomings within the MBTA, which has since been working to address those findings and comply with the FTA’s directives. Meanwhile, long-term projects to roll out new Orange and Red Line cars and install an anti-collision system on the Green Line have faced years of delays. 

Healey noted Eng’s “track record of taking the reins of struggling public transit systems and dramatically improving service.” She and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll also both emphasized Eng’s dedication to maintaining open communication with the public. 

In a statement, Eng called for “a new way of doing business at the MBTA.”

With an extensive professional background in transportation and engineering, Eng said he is “laser focused on finding innovative solutions to complex problems and approaching them with a sense of urgency that always puts the customer first.”


The MBTA’s previous general manager, Steve Poftak, stepped down in January. Interim GM Jeff Gonneville, who has logged more than two decades with the T, will stay with the transit agency and assist with Eng’s transition, Healey announced. 

Gonneville, she said, “has ushered in a new era of transparency and communication at the MBTA that I know that Phil Eng will continue to build on.”


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