New MBTA head's priorities: Pretty much everything
New MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng said today he's looking forward to the challenge of righting a transit system falling apart at the seams, with massive delays due to track problems, other safety issues and inadequate staffing caused by decades of disinvestment in the system.
At a press conference at the Green Line Riverside station - which started 15 minutes late - the current Long Island, NY resident said these are just the sorts of challenges he loves to take on - and that he says he did during his time at New York's MTA, where he inherited a subway system that was also falling apart at the seams, and then when he moved over to the Long Island Rail Road commuter lines, which were suffering their worst on-time performance in decades.
Of course, before he got into the T's problems, he told the media he needed to address the elephant in the room: No, he said, he is not a Yankees fan (later he did allow as how he roots for the Mets).
Eng acknowledged that "it's clear MBTA service is not at the level it should be," and hasn't been for a long time. He did not list specific steps he would take on day one, but cited several broad areas that need immediate attention at the T, including safety, reliability, scheduling and finding more workers.
And as a former LIRR commuter himself, he said everything starts with communications, with both long suffering riders and workers. He encouraged riders to talk to him if they see him as he goes out on the system's trains and buses - he got to Riverside by taking the Green Line from downtown.
He said riders might not see improvements on the nation's oldest subway system immediately, but "I know we can and will overcome [the problems]" and predicted we'd get to the point where people were praising the T, rather than treating it as the butt of jokes, scorn and sorrow.
Gov. Maura Healey, who said Eng's appointment is "probably the most important appointment I've had to make" as governor, said she and her team considered several candidates who seemed to be qualified to lead the T, but that what set Eng apart was not just his 40 years of experience managing large public-transportation projects and agencies in New York state, but that "he has a passion for public transportation."
His hiring "is a really good day for Boston, a really good day for the Commonwealth," she said.
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!
I wish him luck
He seems like a good hire. The spelling of his last name is how "Engineering" is often abbreviated which seems like a good sign.
Question: Why hold this press conference in Newton, about as far away from downtown Boston as a person can go on a subway line?
Because it shows he's willing to ride the T all the way from the end of a long line to downtown. Remember, the B in MBTA doesn't stand for Boston - the T serves many towns and cities.
The common complaint
Is that the T prioritizes the wealthy suburbs. Having the press conference at Riverside doesn't refute that criticism.
He must have rode it to park
He must have rode it to park and then walked to downtown crossing or south station. I was going into park as he was coming out with the news cameras and they crossed and walked down winter
may have had avoiding causing delays and disrupting riders in more heavily trafficked ones such as Maverick, DTX or Park St. as a factor.
tell that to the people in
tell that to the people in Weston, Lincoln, & Concord who ride the fitchburg line into the city. its somehow less reliable than the red line, and are some of the wealthiest towns in the state, and in the case of Weston, in the country.
Meeting some of the team upon whom he will depend?
He probably picked a station
where nothing would fall on him during the presser....
This will take cooperation from both the executive branch and the legislature. It's going to take alot more than a tube of maybeline to fix this pig of transit system.
Sorry folks I have little faith that much will change. We've had high hopes for others that came crashing down like a car on the B line. I give him about 3 years before he's on a train and off to somewhere else.
Crashing down like the Alewife ceiling, Harvard ceilings, or Forest Hills ceilings...
Let's give the guy more than a 15 minute honeymoon
He seems like the right person. Yes, he can't wave his magic wand and fix decades of mismanagement. However, if he can fix even 50% of the issues in a couple of years, it will be a dramatic improvement. I wish him well.
I think you missed my point
The problem has never been the GM position. E V E R.
It has to do with other people and departments. Its THOSE that will not allow him to succeed and he'll leave for greener pastures like everyone else.
A couple of previously departed GM's, one being Dr Scott, who have said the problem lies much deeper than her or her position.
But every few years someone new comes in and a few years later, they leave.
There's a reason why that report was named "Born Broke". The problems go much further than most people know.
GM has been part of the problem
Under Baker they forced an actually competent administrator to resign due to a crisis that absolutely was not her fault then installed a member of the pioneer institute. Having someone dedicated to the privatization of public resources in charge for 4 years takes a toll on the system. Especially when he came in at such a pivotal moment, that allowed him to sell off more and more T functions to private companies (although he wasn’t able to sell off as much as he would have liked due to pushback) which eats a system from the inside out. This crisis is very much not an accident it is a clear and obvious result of the deliberate policy choices of the last administration to make the crisis worse so their friends can make money rather than fix it for those who rely on it as a public service.
Having someone who explicitly rejects this kind of view in charge is a step forward.
Was pretty seriously nuttybar. I wasn't really familiar with her until she quit, and then read a kinda-amazing interview with her in "Commonwealth" in which she was tossed softball after softball, ex.
Q: Why is there high absenteeism at transit agencies?
A: There are a numbers of reasons for it. It is not a really family friendly workplace.
--and then the reporter followed up with... nothing. Not even, "What are some of those reasons?" No, they just let it slide, along with Scott's statement that the figure of 57 absentee dates per MBTA employee per year was "grossly overstated." Lots of followups come to mind here: What's a more accurate number? _Why_ is it overstated, and _who_ is overstating it? But again, nothing. It was pretty embarrassing on the part of the reporter. It's one thing for an interviewee to misunderstand the press's role and think it's just a forum for them, but a reporter is there to do a job, not just hand someone the mic. Read for yourself:
re: "crashing down like a car on the B line"
Yeah, but when someone drives their car onto the B line-- at least I think this is what you're talking about-- and then screeches to a halt, it's kinda funny. Usually no one gets hurt, and YES, we know that people are inconvenienced. But it is kinda funny.
The MTA website says he's still President of the MTA /LIRR
He left a legacy of bad communication at the MTA.
He'll fit right in at the T
You're blaming him for his successor's lapse?
That's not quite fair
You found that page my searching his name. However it's not linked to from elsewhere on the site. Here's the link to the MTA leadership page, which does not list him.
The page you found should have been deprecated or edited to show he is no longer there. But government agencies leaving existing content in place is not always a bad idea for transparency
The Long Island Railroad
Mandated that sixty police officers are to be assigned to riding trains. Hope he orders the Transit Police to do the same.
Stop w the BS
No need to wow us w his cremditals and press releases. Shut up and get to it. I just waited 30 minutes (4:30-5:03) to catch the creeping Redline from Andrew to Ashmont
If he fixes the T
He should buy a lottery ticket.
What happened to the previous
What happened to the previous title?
Clearly has his priorities straight
"No, he said, he is not a Yankees fan (later he did allow as how
he roots for the Mets)" It's like saying he didn't like Hitler but he's kewl with Mussolini ...
the real elephant in the room
is the state of the LIRR and MBTA pension systems.
Please clean the restrooms.
Please clean the restrooms.
How much money will tax
How much money will tax payers have to pay for the detective work on misallocation of funds? Safety is priority. They can start with all the leaking tunnels ready to collapse underground and the absence of prevention actions in place to stop people from falling on tracks and under trains.
So to prevent misallocation
So to prevent misallocation of funds, let's not allocate any funds to decide where our funds should be allocated. Makes sense to me!
Project management of the T rehabilitation
First I would like to see justice delivered to the folks who knew that the T, especially the subway portion, has been a Titanic on rails. The slow roll of failure is not new. But there has never beenaccountability. Massachusetts governors have NEVER been held accountable for the devastation of the subway system. Nor have the legislators who control funding.
Perhaps the MBTA needs to be removed from the governor's office. It is obvious that electoral accountability fails where the subway system is concerned. Don't know what the solution at this level is. But it is clear that the current system of accountability fails.
As for improvements and rehabilitation. Will the new GM - and will the remaining managers - determine what are the short term, low cost improvements? The long term high cost repairs improvements, such as track that is not dangerous (why else the slow rolls?), will indeed not happen overnight. Users of the T have no choice but to live with that. But what of low cost improvements that will not take years?
Riding the subway today means accepting conditions that are foul. Noise. Subways are now the entertainment zones where videos are played at high tweaky volume with no earbuds. When earbuds are used the bleed creates a sound of thousands of mosquitoes looking for a meal.
The unintentional comedic and dramatic semi-dialogues, semi-soliliquis just do not provide sufficient entertainment value. Overhearing who is having sex with whom, hearing what family or friend dispute is currently happening in various lives, while potential fodder for subway based soap operas, are now inevitable cacophonies that come across as cheap human dramas.
Subways as circus arenas. I remember watching a boy - maybe around ten - jump up to the rail and do a pull up every few minutes. His father (I assume) was oblivious. After studying this peculiar behavior I realized that the boy was watching a cell phone. Hlmlesian deduction led to the idea that the boy was watching a video, perhaps a game, and when a character in the video the boy jumped.
If this was a one off then it could pass as entertainment. But it is not a one off anymore. Granted entertainment on the T has some value. And who doesn't enjoy some schadenfreude or other vicarious satisfaction from hearing another person's drama.
What a way to start the day on the way to work. To be given the gift of feeling, "But for grace of God go I."
The LIRR has two big problems
The LIRR has two big problems: union contracts that are way out of control, and too much train traffic for the crumbling under-capacity tracks and stations.
Even compared with Metro North, payroll spending and work rules at the LIRR are out of control, with union contracts providing quadruple pay for some normal shifts, and hundreds more conductors and engineers on the payroll than needed to provide pre-pandemic service. This problem has existed for decades, and no single LIRR president can solve it, but it has to be managed.
And Penn Station and the tunnels are from 1910, and it shows. There's just 4 tracks under the river, shared with Amtrak and NJT deadheads, and just 9 platforms for the LIRR at Penn. Even with the new Grand Central line providing some relief, it's amazing that they manage to squeeze 400 trains through every day.
The skills to manage those problems would be very helpful at the T.