NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Phillip Eng, a transportation veteran, has been appointed as the next president of the Long Island Rail Road, MTA officials announced Thursday.
Eng, who first joined the MTA in March of 2017, concurrently held the position of acting president at New York City Transit from October of 2017 until January of this year.
“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 Joe Lhota said in a statement. “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.”
Born and raised on Long Island, the MTA says Eng now lives in Smithtown with his wife, their two sons and twin daughters.
In a statement, he said he was “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.”
“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.
Eng takes over for Patrick Nowakowski, who MTA officials confirmed is resigning from his position, effective Friday, after four years at the helm.
The move comes less than a month after the LIRR was slammed by the state comptroller for “unacceptable performance” and following endless complaints from fed up and frustrated commuters.
Last month, Nowakowski unveiled a Performance Improvement Plan that outlined goals for the rail road, including better maintenance, infrastructure upgrades and communication with customers.
In a statement, Nowakowski said he “took a few days off to think about things.”
“I’m pleased with the direction the railroad is headed under the Performance Improvement Plan, and I decided that now was a good time to step aside and allow new leadership to continue the progress we’ve begun to make on improving customer service,” he said.
“I thank Pat for his service to LIRR customers and his steady and evenhanded leadership of the railroad at a time when external events caused challenges for the railroad, particularly Amtrak’s renewal of tracks and infrastructure at Penn Station that the entire LIRR depends on,” Lhota said in a statement.
“We are grateful for Pat’s service and thankful he has established a framework for future performance improvement at the railroad,” MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim said in a statement. “At a time when the railroad is carrying more riders than at any time since the late 1940s, the LIRR has faced significant challenges and his stewardship has been greatly appreciated.”
Last year, the LIRR had the worst on-time performance in 18 years. According to the state audit, in 2017 more than 21,000 trains were late, canceled or terminated — a 20 percent increase from the year before.
In a statement, Sen. Todd Kaminsky said LIRR riders “deserve a new leader who will demand immediate reform and who will level with and speak directly to them.”
Kaminsky said “tough and no-nonsense leadership is needed urgently for one of the most important commuter rail systems in the country.”