High Profile: LIRR, HNTB

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Rob Free, President of MTA Long Island Rail Road and Julie Green, New York Transit and Mobility Group Director at HNTB.

Rob Free, President of MTA Long Island Rail Road and Julie Green, New York Transit and Mobility Group Director at HNTB.

MTA Long Island Rail Road sets Rob Free as President, following six-months of service as Acting President. Also, Julie Green joins HNTB as New York Transit and Mobility Group Director.


Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chair and CEO Janno Lieber on April 11 appointed Rob Free as LIRR’s 42nd President. Free began his career with the railroad as a station cleaner 31 years ago, rising through the ranks to become Chief Transportation Officer and Senior Vice President of Operations before becoming President. He oversees LIRR’s 24/7 commuter rail service, 700 miles of track, and 126 stations.

According to MTA, Free was instrumental in the rollout of LIRR service to Grand Central Madison, helping to oversee a 41% increase in service that accompanied its launch in January 2023. During his time in LIRR leadership, MTA also completed the Main Line Third Track project that enabled a 41% service increase; opened the first new LIRR station in 50 years at (Elmont-UBS Arena); and completed an overhaul of the LIRR concourse at Penn Station.

“Rob Free was the natural choice for the job—a native Long Islander who’s committed his working life to the LIRR,” Janno Lieber said. “Rob intrinsically understands the level of service customers expect, and I know he will continue to deliver in this now permanent role. I would also like to thank [MTA Metro-North Railroad] Cathy Rinaldi for helping to ease this transition, first serving as Interim President of LIRR and then as an advisor to Rob.”

“When I joined the LIRR as a 22-year-old station cleaner, I never imagined that one day I would be running this incredible organization,” Rob Free said. “It’s been an amazing journey so far and I am excited to continue to build on our successes and make the riding experience even better for Long Islanders. Ridership continues to climb, with weekdays routinely carrying 230,000-plus riders, as is on-time performance which has been above 95% for three straight months.”

According to MTA, as Acting President, Free promised to prioritize three things: safety for riders and employees, increased reliability, and higher customer satisfaction. “Over the past six months, Free has delivered in all three areas,” it reported. “MTAPD increased its presence on the rails bringing a greater sense of security to everyone on trains and in stations. LIRR enjoyed it’s best February in 12 years with 96.3% of trains arriving on-time which is also the sixth-best month in LIRR history. “


HNTB has named Julie Green as New York Transit and Mobility Group Director and Vice President. Green, one of Railway Age’s 2019 Women in Rail honorees, will oversee transit design, transit systems, and planning and mobility practices. She will be based in the firm’s New York office.

Green has been involved in the design, procurement, commissioning, and operations of rail, bus, and transportation technology systems for 30 years, most recently subway car, commuter railcar, and bus procurements for the MTA. She has also worked on Amtrak’s Acela High Speed Train program, as well as revenue system design and implementation for transit clients across North America.

Prior to joining HNTB, Green was the New York region leader for Hatch LTK, where she was responsible for all activities relating to leading and growing the firm’s business in the New York region. She also served as the Global Director of Data Analytics providing leadership and oversight of all revenue systems, asset management, and engineering financial analysis for the firm.

Green earned a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from NKI School of Engineering and an MBA in strategic management from the Norwegian School of Business. Additionally, she holds a Professional Engineering license in Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C., and has attained her Certified Smart Card Industry Professional (CSCIP) credential from the Smart Card Alliance. Green also serves as an advisory board member for COMTO New York. COMTO recognized Green and 12 other women for their “outstanding contributions to America’s transportation industry” in 2021.

“We are thrilled to have Julie join our team to lead our transit and mobility group,” said Kevin R. Collins, HNTB’s New York Office Leader and Senior Vice President. “She is a leading expert in her field and well-known in the transportation industry here in the Northeast. Julie is a demonstrated people leader with a strong background in transit fleet and facilities as well as revenue systems. These skills and experiences will be instrumental in supporting our clients on some of their most complex challenges and continuing HNTB’s growth.”

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