"A herculean task": Transportation advocates say new MBTA GM faces challenges

BOSTON - Governor Maura Healey's appointment of a new MBTA General Manager was met with solid, yet mixed reviews from public transportation advocates throughout the state.

The skepticism had little to do with Phillip Eng as a candidate and more to do with the bigger problems facing the system.

Stacy Thompson works for the Livable Streets Alliance and said Eng is a solid choice for one of the toughest jobs in the state. "It's the kind of nuts and bolts experience we want to see in the T," said Thompson. "This isn't about ribbon cuttings, this isn't about announcements, this is about literally getting the trains back on track. You want someone who is going to prioritize that in the weeds, behind the scenes operations work that he seems to have many, many years of work in."

Eng joins the MBTA at a time when its operations are under a federal review, infrastructure is crumbling, and staff morale is at a reported all-time low.

"There is no one single person that is going to fix the T," said Jarred Johnson with TransitMatters. "It is a herculean task, and he is not going to be able to do it alone. We still need to hear from the administration what the plan is to make the system better because simply bringing in a new general manager is not going to cut it."

Rick Dimino is the CEO of A Better City and said he was impressed with Eng's work history as the head of the MTA and Long Island Railroad. "Obviously, if he can help turn around transit agencies, he's the right guy for us here in Massachusetts," said Dimino. "Turning the ship away from the iceberg is not going to be a quick thing. He's going to have to manage that capital prudently and well. He is going to have to stand by telling the way it is while being honest and transparent."