THE TRANSITION: Biden Picks DOT Commissioner Trottenberg for Transportation Panel

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg never convinced her current boss to ride a bike to work. Maybe Joe Biden will give it a try? File photo: DOT
DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg never convinced her current boss to ride a bike to work. Maybe Joe Biden will give it a try? File photo: DOT

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg is helping President-elect Biden get ready for Jan. 20.

The Biden-Harris transition team announced on Tuesday that Trottenberg had been selected for a 18-person “transportation” team that will prepare “President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and their cabinet to hit the ground running on Day One.”

“These teams are composed of highly experienced and talented professionals with deep backgrounds in crucial policy areas across the federal government,” the transition team said in a statement. “The teams have been crafted to ensure they not only reflect the values and priorities of the incoming administration, but reflect the diversity of perspectives crucial for addressing America’s most urgent and complex challenges.”

Among those challenges is, of course, transportation, and the Biden-Harris panel appears to be forward thinking, based on its membership and the places from which its members hail.

In addition to Trottenberg, the panel also includes former Chicago DOT Commissioner Gabe Klein (full disclosure: a Streetsblog board member); current D.C. DOT leader Jeff Marootian; Phillip Washington, the current CEO of Los Angeles’s METRO system; clean energy expert Austin Brown of U.C. Davis; and former US DOT official Vinn White, who currently works under New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and is a known supporter of transit-oriented development. Like most of the panel, Trottenberg is serving as a “volunteer.”

In addition to generally getting the Biden-Harris team up to speed, the transition team specifically said the transportation panel would “review the National Transportation Safety Board … AMTRAK, and the Federal Maritime Commission.” It is likely that the panel will help Biden vet a new Secretary of Transportation (and if Dick Cheney’s model is any guide, perhaps this is Trottenberg’s route to the top job).

Trottenberg, of course, has broad experience with trains and roads, having served not only as DOT commissioner for the entirety of the de Blasio administration, but also as a board member with the MTA. She previously worked as Under Secretary for Policy at the U.S. DOT under President Obama.

The announcement of Trottenberg’s ascension to the transition team came just a few days after Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez joked at a press conference about a new bike lane that Trottenberg would be a perfect secretary of the U.S. DOT in a Biden administration. Trottenberg did not comment at the time.

It also came a few hours after Mayor de Blasio admitted he has not yet spoken to the President- or Vice President-elect since they were declared the winner of the Nov. 3 election.

Perhaps Trottenberg can put in a good word.

In any event, the enormity of the challenge facing Biden is clearer with each day, and it is unclear whether the panel has a specific agenda. Activists want … activism:


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