Pete Buttigieg, currently undergoing a Senate confirmation hearing to become President Biden’s next transportation secretary at the time of writing, may soon have company at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Polly Trottenberg, who served as NYC’s Transportation Commissioner from 2014 through 2020 and as Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy for the Obama administration, has been tapped to become the next United States Deputy Secretary of Transportation.
“Our nation needs a safe, equitable and environmentally sustainable transportation system that creates jobs and supports economic recovery. Looking forward to working alongside @PeteButtigieg and the USDOT team to build back better,” wrote Trottenberg on Twitter, only her fourth tweet in 11 years.
During her seven-year tenure in New York, Trottenberg oversaw all of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s major transportation initiatives, from the implantation of Vision Zero at the start of his tenure in 2014, to improving pedestrian experiences on the Brooklyn Bridge, to the transformation of major thoroughfares into bus-only lanes.
Trottenberg only stepped down from the NYC Department of Transportation on November 23, 2020—in 2020, she also oversaw the launch of Open Streets, a program to shut down 100 miles of roads to increase public outdoor space during the pandemic.
Of course, as the New York Times pointed out, Trottenberg’s tenure in New York was not without its flaws or criticisms. Despite the lofty goals of Vision Zero—no more traffic deaths or injuries by 2024—cyclists and pedestrians alike are still being killed by cars in record numbers.
Still, as Streetsblog noted, Trottenberg’s announcement was met with enthusiasm from the transportation community, as it’s likely she’d lobby for the same pedestrian, bicycle, and mass transit upgrades now on a national level (and be in a position to advocate for a New York City lifeline).
Trottenberg had been working as a volunteer for the Biden-Harris administration advising on transportation issues prior to her official nomination.