New president announced for Long Island Railroad

Posted at 7:38 PM, Apr 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-01 11:34:42-04

LIRR Train

The announcement that the busiest commuter railroad in the nation will be getting a new president came a few hours after the current president attended a board meeting and spoke at a media briefing about an entirely different subject.

The change at the Long Island Railroad was announced by Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Tom Prendergast via email from the media office at MTA Headquarters.

Patrick Nowakowski, currently the Executive Director of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, will be the next LIRR President effective May 12, 2014.

Helena Williams has been the LIRR President for 7 years. At the morning board meeting, news of the new appointment had not been circulated. At the media briefing along side Prendergast, Williams answered questions about a new mobile ticketing project.

The MTA calls Nowakowski “a career railroad professional with broad experience in operations, engineering, infrastructure and planning.” Previously, he worked with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), including seven years as Assistant General Manager of Operations.

“Pat Nowakowski is a railroad expert with a rare mix of skills and a long career of accomplishments, and I am pleased to welcome him to the Long Island Rail Road,” Prendergast said. “Our customers have high expectations for safe and reliable service, and events last year throughout the MTA family have shown why we must always stay focused on the basics of how best to provide that service.”

Additional information about Williams’ future at the LIRR was not immediately disclosed. The news release was sent a few hours after this month’s board meeting.

The news release quotes Williams as saying, “It’s been a privilege to have served as LIRR President. My focus always has been on providing safe, secure and reliable train service to our customers and I believe we achieved those goals while improving customer communications and strengthening our relationships with the many communities we serve throughout Long Island. I am deeply grateful to the men and women of the LIRR and to my leadership team who have worked tirelessly to meet the needs of our customers and help modernize the LIRR’s operations.”

“I want to thank Helena for her long and successful service to the MTA, to Long Island and to everyone in the New York metropolitan region,” Prendergast said. “Helena’s tireless work to improve the LIRR’s operations, communications and community relations has not just made the railroad better for LIRR customers, but has improved the economy and the quality of life for everyone on Long Island.”

The Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council issued this statement from Chairman Mark Epstein: “As a Long Islander, Helena has been aware of the landscape and has worked to improve travel for all LIRR commuters. During her tenure she has made an effort to make The Long Island Railroad more transparent and responsive. ”