He is in.
Photo: Ken Cedeno-Pool / Getty Images
With this morning’s 86–13 confirmation vote, it’s official: Pete Buttigieg is the new transportation secretary. Buttigieg joins what has been called a “dream TeamPeople appointed to the US Department of Transportation, including former New York City Transportation Manager Polly Trottenberg, who will serve as deputy secretary. Suddenly – for the first time in a long time – the future of American transportation looks extremely bright.
Change can’t come soon enough for the sector of the economy that generates a third of all greenhouse gases, and as Buttigieg noted in his confirmation hearings, this is Biden’s priority – not just for this department, but for all federal agencies. Last week, the president created a brand new national climate office to coordinate the response, which director Gina McCarthy promises to be governed by policies. based on racial justice. There’s even a climate expert who now heads the much-maligned Vehicle Safety Agency: Steve Cliff, former director of the California Air Resources Board, will head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Buttigieg – the first openly gay cabinet member – steps into a role where his political decisions could very directly improve the health and well-being of virtually all Americans as the country recovers from a colossal socio-economic crisis . This is an opportunity to rapidly deploy initiatives that could not only reduce emissions, but also provide other immediate benefits: reducing traffic fatalities, improving air quality and saving money for consumers. households. There’s no time to waste, and here are nine groundbreaking transport projects Buttigieg could tackle right away.
Through a series of executive orders signed in the early days of his presidency, Biden laid out his plan to bring the country to net zero emissions by 2050. In the next 90 days, all federal departments are required to report with strategies to electrify their fleets, more than 645,000 vehicles in total. But Biden’s tenure is just the tip of the electric vehicle (EV) iceberg. If every state and every municipality did this too, it would be 1.3 million more EVs, essentially doubling the number of electric vehicles already in circulation today. Not only would this be a good example, but purchasing power would boost the electric vehicle market. Buttigieg could issue his own challenge to other large fleets – rental cars, delivery trucks, businesses – to lead the way.
Biden’s plan calls for the creation of 550,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country by 2030, a goal that seems bold when you consider that there are only 84,000 public outlets currently available. But the real puzzle is to understand or they will. If Buttigieg manages to speed up the installation of chargers along long-distance motorway corridors – Walmart is working on it – Cities can focus on placing them in locations accessible to apartment residents who may not have garage space, or provide electric car sharing services instead.
California’s plan to phase out gasoline cars by 2035 looks likely to reverberate across the country. Environmental Protection Agency could change fuel economy standards from july, and with GM announcing its plan to go fully electric, it is almost guaranteed that other automakers will follow suit. But for emissions to drop quickly, Buttigieg needs to deeply drive purchases of electric vehicles – and, more importantly, it can only be cars. The new legislation was proposed this week this would extend tax benefits for commuters for the purchase of bicycles and e-bikes, as well as for self-service bicycle subscriptions.
With the stroke of a pen, Buttigieg could provide the federal approval needed to move New York’s congestion pricing plan forward, which board member Corey Johnson (among other locally elected officials) requested as action from day one. New York’s road pricing system would radically transform the city – the very low emission zone of London reduce air pollution by a third – while generating much-needed funds for buses and trains and providing a model for other major US cities to follow.
Biden’s racial justice mandate explicitly calls for the construction of highways as a tool of discrimination, and some federal dollars are already assigned to study the removal of these routes. Buttigieg, who was openly about evil freeways, could distribute money to eliminate them in the same way as former USDOT chief Anthony Foxx made during the obama years. Some towns are already prepared for the demonstration; Dallas I-345, for example, is a goner. Goodbye to BQE?
For decades, the gasoline tax pumped dollars into the Highway Trust Fund. Yet the tax has not kept pace with inflation, making it ineffective, and raising it is almost impossible politically. During his confirmation hearings, Buttigieg hinted that he would be willing to change the tax, and many legislators and experts defended its complete elimination, saying that change to a vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) would discourage driving in general – regardless of the type of vehicle. It’s time.
Arguably one of the nation’s most significant infrastructure projects, a new rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey is terribly necessary. Design is essentially complete, but construction was carried out by the Trump administration in what was widely seen as cheeky political punishment inflicted on New York officials. It would accommodate another century of travel to and from the country’s largest and most transit-dependent city and could be prioritized by Buttigieg as a flagship climate adaptation project. Or at least that’s how it is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer launches it.
Contrary to recurring titles who claim the project has been doped, California’s high-speed rail system is definitely under construction, but it is in desperate need of additional federal dollars to speed up construction and provide crucial funding for electrification of existing sections. California isn’t the only program of its kind out of the box: high-speed rail projects in Texas and Florida are also making progress but could benefit from a boost – both financial and confidence – from Buttigieg, a self-proclaimed foamer.
We know Buttigieg is a pavement Passionate: He laid beautiful brick pavers as part of a “complete streets” program in downtown South Bend, Indiana. Sidewalks are something every city needs and, together with the Trottenberg Vision Zero experience, could significantly contribute to a federal policy for the elimination of traffic fatalities. (Defenders mark their demands for safe streets #DearSecretaryPete.) Channeling more money into sidewalk construction (along with significant infrastructural improvements like bus shelters) would also signify the first national initiative to make all pedestrian rights-of-way truly ADA compliant – an effort which has been left behind, if not completely ignored, in most American cities.