Few have seen the first draft of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s reorganization plan that consulting firm AlixPartners put together and submitted to the MTA at the end of June.
But that report will put a big focus on how the MTA can consolidate and streamline its byzantine bureaucracy. This is likely to include centralizing departments like human resources, legal and procurement, and could suggest moving some areas from the control of the heads of the Long Island Rail Road, MetroNorth and NYC Transit, such as construction and capital improvements. That could fall under the control of Capital Construction head Janno Lieber, instead.
That could mean changes for LIRR chief Phil Eng, at least in terms of what he oversees. But it’s unlikely that Eng’s core job – running the LIRR -- will change. And, of course, Eng already works with Lieber on mega-projects like the third track and East Side Access, so it wouldn’t be unusual for them to coordinate on other capital efforts.
And Eng seems to have the confidence of MTA leadership and board members, too.
“I think he’s capable and he’s doing a good job under the circumstances,” MTA board member David Mack told The Point, noting that the LIRR hasn’t been without recent controversy, particularly due to the concerns about overtime excesses. “I’m optimistic that we’re on the right track.”
Mack said he hadn’t seen the report yet, but noted that potential consolidation proposals could be better for the agency heads, including Eng.
“In anything that replicates services, we can save money by consolidating,” Mack said. “It may mean everyone is going to lose some responsibilities. But maybe that’s for the best, because you can’t be everywhere. When you have too much on your plate, it’s like being a jack of all trades, professional of none.”
Nonetheless, right now, there’s a lot of worry and speculation about what exactly Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will prioritize. But more will be known in the next few weeks. The MTA board is expected to see the report before its next committee and board meetings – scheduled for the week of July 22 – and may vote on it during the July 24 meeting. The report is expected to be made public later this month, too, though it’s unclear whether that will happen before or after the board meeting.