Eng named new LIRR president

Eng named new LIRR president
A Long Island Rail Road train pulls into the East Williston station on the Oyster Bay branch. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

Phillip Eng, a 35-year veteran of New York transit, was named as president of the Long Island Rail Road by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority last week.

“Phil is a true professional in the field of transportation who has impressed all of us at the MTA since he came aboard,” MTA Managing Director Veronique Hakim said in a statement. “He has the ability to quickly assess any challenging situation and find a workable solution. We look forward to working with him in his new role.”

Eng joined the MTA over a year ago and concurrently served as acting president for New York City Transit. During his time with the MTA, Eng focused on modernizing transit in the city, including the development of a new fare payment system, mobile ticketing, and new rolling stock and buses.

“My life’s work has centered on conceptualizing the best possible options to make transportation options more reliable, allowing commuters to get where they need to go safely and quickly,” Eng said in a statement. “I am honored to be chosen to lead the LIRR and its team of talented women and men as we work together to make the daily experience on the trains a better one.”

Eng will replace Patrick Nowakowski, who served as LIRR president for nearly four years.

The embattled Nowakowski stepped down earlier in the week after the LIRR had continually struggled to improve on-time performance. An audit from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said that the LIRR’s on-time performance in 2017 was the worst since 1999. That was followed by January of this year, which saw the LIRR post its worst on-time performance for a month since 1996.

Eng’s first task will be to implement a 60-point improvement plan announced by the agency last month. The plan called for infrastructure improvements across the system, along with improved rail inspections and more crews.

The plan also called for more protection of the rails in extreme weather, as the snow and cold were blamed for the LIRR’s poor performance in January.

“The transformational infrastructure projects that are underway, along with the implementation of the Performance Improvement Plan, will make a lasting impact on the region’s quality of life and economy,” Eng said in a statement.

According to the release, Eng was born and raised in Long Island. A graduate of Cooper Union, he lived for several years in East Williston and Mineola. He currently resides in Smithtown.

Before joining the MTA, Eng started as a junior engineer with the New York state Department of Transportation in 1983. Over the course of three decades, he worked his way up to executive deputy commissioner, overseeing projects such as the Rochester station, replacing the Kosciuszko Bridge, and environmental studies for I-81 and the LIRR Mainline Expansion Project.

“Phil has shown exceptional leadership and dedication during his time at the MTA, and I know he will bring his enthusiasm for developing a world-class transportation system to the LIRR,” MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota said. “With 35 years of experience in the New York transportation sector, I couldn’t imagine anyone better suited for this position at this crucial time as we work toward creating a robust future for the commuter rail.”

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