Phillip Eng to Lead MBTA (UPDATED)

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Phillip Eng, incoming General Manager, MBTA

Phillip Eng, incoming General Manager, MBTA

Former MTA Long Island Rail Road President Phillip Eng is heading to Boston. On April 10, he will become the next General Manager of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Massachusetts Gov. Maura T. Healey, Lt. Gov. Kimberley Driscoll and Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca reported March 27.

According to a report in Commonwealth Magazine, Eng, will also be one of the highest paid transit authority executives in the country after receiving a five-year contract with a base salary of $470,000 a year plus “an annual retention payment” of $30,000. According to the contract, his salary will increase 1.5% on Sept. 1, 2024 and each year thereafter.

According to Commonwealth Magazine, Eng will also receive a “success bonus” of up to 10% of his base salary in July 2024, 15% in July 2025, and 20% in July 2025 and two subsequent years. Those success bonuses, according to the report, could total up to $47,000 in 2024, up to $70,500 in July 2025, and up to $94,000 in each of the subsequent years. The exact size of the bonus, Commonwealth Magazine reports, will be determined by Fiandaca and will be based on “performance criteria mutually agreed upon by the secretary and Eng.” Eng will also receive $80,000 in relocation expenses.

Eng succeeds interim General Manager Jeff Gonneville, who will remain with MBTA and assist with the transition to new management. Gonneville served previously as Deputy General Manager under Steve Poftak, who stepped down as MBTA leader on Jan. 3, 2023, following the Federal Transit Administration’s call for safety improvements at transit authority.

“Phil Eng is the proven leader the MBTA needs to improve safety and reliability across the system and restore the public’s trust,” Gov. Healey said. “He understands that a functioning transportation system is essential to a functioning economy, and he has a track record of taking the reins of struggling public transit systems and dramatically improving service. He also takes a collaborative approach to his work and maintains open lines of communication with customers, workers, businesses, local officials and communities.”

“I’m deeply grateful to Jeff Gonneville for his 22 years of dedicated service to the MBTA and for rising to the challenge as interim General Manager during this critical period,” Gov. Healey continued. “He has ushered in a new era of transparency and communication at the MBTA that I know that Phil Eng will continue to build on. We are pleased that Jeff will continue his service to Massachusetts.”

“Phil has a record of achievement in delivering world class transportation services in New York state, managing billions of dollars in capital projects, and launching initiatives to improve the customer experience,” Secretary Fiandaca said. “Most importantly, Phil has excelled at finding solutions to challenging problems.”

“It’s time for a new way of doing business at the MBTA,” said Eng. “As an engineer, a transportation professional for 40 years, and a commuter myself, I’m laser focused on finding innovative solutions to complex problems and approaching them with a sense of urgency that always puts the customer first. I’m also committed to supporting the hardworking employees who keep the MBTA running and ramping up hiring to ensure that we have the workforce in place to deliver the reliable service that riders deserve.”

Eng retired as President of LIRR in February 2022, handing the throttle to Catherine Rinaldi, who is heading up the commuter railroad in an interim capacity while continuing as MTA Metro-North Railroad President.

Eng joined New York MTA in 2017 following service at the New York State Department of Transportation, where worked his way through the ranks beginning in the 1980s and ultimately served as Executive Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer from 2013-17. At MTA, he was Chief Operating Officer, responsible for leading the procurement and award of a $540 million contract to modernize the agency’s mobile ticking system and improving its contracting methods to better ensure projects would be completed on time. He then held the position of acting President for MTA New York City Transit, before being appointed LIRR President in 2018. At LIRR, he managed a system of 7,600 employees and a $1.6 billion operating budget. Eng also oversaw the implementation of new technology that improved the accuracy of train arrival time estimates on platforms and led to the release of the new LIRR TrainTime app, as well as the launch of “Customer Conversation” forums and “Meet the Manager” station settings.

Since June 2022, Eng has served as Executive Vice President of the LiRo Group, where he advises public- and private-sector clients on engineering, transportation and infrastructure projects. He has worked with a number of public transportation clients across the Northeast, including MBTA, on construction management and quality design, assurance and control inspections.

Railway Age Senior Editor Carolina Worrell contributed to this report.

Further Reading:

Second FTA Safety Probe Targets MBTA

FTA Issues Safety Directives to MBTA

FTA to MBTA: Additional Safety Changes Needed

How MBTA Coped During Partial Shutdowns

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