Healey about to name new MBTA GM

Phillip Eng retired from Long Island Rail Road a year ago

GOV. MAURA HEALEY on Monday is expected to tap the retired president of the Long Island Rail Road as the MBTA’s next general manager.

Phillip Eng left the commuter rail system a little over a year ago and has been working as an executive vice president of the LiRo Group, which advises on transportation, infrastructure, and large building projects.

No announcement of the appointment was made, but Healey administration officials began alerting people Sunday night that Eng would be introduced at a press conference as early as Monday.

The appointment will end a lengthy search process that reportedly targeted a number of transportation executives before settling on Eng. Some transit advocates had urged Healey to put off the hiring of a new general manager until the transit authority was on sounder financial footing. The T is currently being overseen by interim General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville.

There has also been concern that bringing in a new general manager from outside the authority could mean a lengthy period where the newcomer has to get up to speed on what’s wrong with the MBTA and learn the politics of seeking additional funding and support on Beacon Hill.

According to press accounts, Eng took over at the Long Island Rail Road in 2018 after the nation’s largest commuter rail system experienced one of its worst years in terms of performance. He left the system in February 2022 after one of its best years in terms of on-time performance.

Prior to taking over the Long Island Rail Road, Eng served as chief operating officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and president of New York City Transit. He also held a number of positions at the New York State Department of Transportation since 1983.

He will come to an MBTA that is struggling on a number of fronts. The Federal Transit Administration is overseeing a broad safety overhaul at the agency, its China-based supplier of new Red and Orange Line trains is running way behind schedule, it’s have trouble filling job vacancies, and a recent breakdown in following up on track repairs  has prompted the authority to order train slowdowns on more than a quarter of the system.