My two previous reports in this series showed that companies and a union who could benefit directly from various DOT grants made highly favorable statements about Pete Buttigieg. That means little on its face, because the statements came from entities who could say little else. Advocates for the riders on Amtrak and transit are not bound by that constraint, and they have endured other DOT heads who have not been particularly favorable to the riders who are their constituents. I will conclude this series by reporting some comments from those advocates, examining Buttigieg’s political future, and proffering some suggestions about how he can help the riders (assuming that the Senate confirms his nomination).
US Department of Transportation
President-elect Joe Biden has selected Pete Buttigieg to be the next Secretary of Transportation, as Railway Age reported on Dec. 15. This news report noted his experience, particularly as mayor of South Bend, Ind., and included a number of laudatory statements from industry leaders, including one from labor. Indeed, it would be unwise for any of those industry leaders to appear less enthusiastic than that concerning any such nominee, and risk the ire that could result. The question in my mind is, what will Buttigieg’s appointment mean for Amtrak and rail transit customers, or anyone who represents those constituencies.
In the wake of the Jan. 6 siege on the United States Capitol by a violent mob of Donald Trump supporters, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has resigned. The wife of outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the first member of the defeated President’s Cabinet to quit in the wake of the insurrection fueled by Trump’s insistence that he actually won what he calls a “stolen” 2020 election “by a landslide.” Chao’s resignation is effective Jan. 11.
On December 15, the day after the Electoral College certified Joe Biden as the next President of the United States, Biden announced that he has nominated former Presidential candidate and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg as his Transportation Secretary.
A $47.55 million grant has been awarded to the North Carolina Department of Transportation for the purchase of CSX’s S-Line rail corridor from Raleigh to Ridgeway, N.C., near the Virginia state line, which will eventually contribute to higher-speed rail (HrSR) service to the Southeast.
The effects of the partial shutdown of the federal government on the rail community appear not to be significant, at least for now.
The Federal Transit Administration has awarded $16.6 million to 20 agencies nationwide to support planning projects that aim to enhance access to public transportation.
The trade association of U.S. freight railroads this week urged the federal government to take a balanced approach to automation as a way to a safer, more efficient and more productive industry in the coming years.
WASHINGTON – The Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration are sounding an urgent warning about grade crossing safety, and asking the industry to collaborate on improvements.
An Amtrak official told a Senate hearing the agency would continue to operate passenger service through the Southwest on routes exempted from Positive Train Control.