NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Long Island Rail Road’s new president takes over Monday, but he’s already getting directives from his bosses – long-suffering commuters in search of repairs and quicker rides.
As CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the woeful wail of a violin greeted LIRR commuters Friday, matching the feelings of riders eager to share their unhappiness with the agency’s new leader, Philip Eng, and issue marching orders.
“Mr. Eng, I entered a train this morning and I found, to my disappointment, there was a smell of urine on the train. That was a little disturbing, getting up in the morning. So cleanliness, keep the train clean,” commuter Michael Ivry, of Cedarhurst, told Kramer.
“Mr. Eng, I’d like you to fix this railroad so we can be to work on time and not late. It’s always late, it’s never on time,” commuter Melvin Parker, of Laurelton, said.
“Mr. Eng, please fix the signals so that they work properly, the schedules so that they’re on time, and just the maintenance in general. Don’t charge us more when you haven’t fixed the problem,” said commuter Sharon Spencer, of Rockville Centre.
Kramer brought those demands directly to the new guy, playing them for him on a laptop.
They were nothing new for the man now in charge of running the busiest commuter railroad in the nation. He’s a commuter, too. He’s been late, seen the food and debris left on seats, smelled the odors and seen the fares go up.
“I feel their concerns, because I actually ride with them and I’ve experience them directly,” Eng said.
As he carries out the LIRR’s aggressive performance improvement plan, the career transportation engineer, who shepherded Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Kozciusko Bridge project, says improving communication will be job No. 1.
As for stopping the MTA’s planned fare hike next year, that’s up to the MTA board.
“What I need to do is with what I have available to me is to make sure we’re doing it properly and using taxpayer dollars in the best manner that we can,” said Eng. “I want to make sure that Long Island is the No. 1 place in the world.”
If you have your own questions for Eng, Monday morning is your chance. He’s taking an early train from Smithtown, stopping at stations along the way to hear what you have to say, and he says he’s prepared for an earful.
Eng spent 33 years at the state Department of Transportation. He joined the MTA last year as the chief operating officer. He also spent four months as the acting head of New York City Transit.