Transportation groups react to Buttigieg confirmation as Secretary of Transportation

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Transportation groups say they look forward to working with Pete Buttigieg, President Biden’s Secretary of Transportation.

Buttigieg, who was confirmed for the position on Tuesday by a vote of 87-13, will oversee the U.S. Department of Transportation – a federal department with more than 55,000 employees and jurisdiction over everything from federal highways and bridges to air traffic and railroads to the nation’s port system.

The Biden administration has said that infrastructure improvement would be a key effort to increase jobs and stimulate economic growth. Those improvements would include efforts to combat climate change.

“Secretary Buttigieg brings a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and will be a strong leader for the Department,” said Paul P. Skoutelas, President and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association. “The public transit industry faced tremendous challenges in 2020 but has continued to serve millions of essential workers and their communities despite devastating financial hardships. Our members have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, connecting essential workers to their jobs in hospitals, grocery stores, and other vital services while ensuring that Americans are not cut off from medical care, groceries, pharmacies, and healthcare appointments. We look forward to working closely with Secretary Buttigieg as Congress advances President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to address the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Similarly, Pat Jones, Executive Director and CEO of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), congratulated the former Mayor of South Bend, Ind.

“IBTTA is pleased that the US Senate has confirmed Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation. Pete’s education, intelligence, innovative thinking, and experience – as both a veteran and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana – give him a unique understanding of the importance of infrastructure to economic growth and opportunity,” Jones said in a statement. “IBTTA is encouraged by the policies Pete put forth during his presidential campaign and the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better Initiative. Our association looks forward to working with President Biden, Vice-President Harris, Secretary Buttigieg, and Congress in 2021. This is a critical year to stimulate the economy and pass a bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization that gives states greater power to improve their infrastructure, cut congestion, and reduce the negative effects of climate change.”

Representatives from the aviation industry were equally pleased. Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas Calio said Buttigieg’s record on infrastructure indicated his willingness to work with industries to move forward.

“Secretary Buttigieg has a proven track record as Mayor of successfully shepherding numerous complex transportation projects while partnering with industry in a productive manner. We believe that strong coordination and shared understanding between government and industry is critical to ensuring that air travel remains the safest mode of transportation in the world,” Calio said in a statement. “As the Biden Administration looks to enact comprehensive infrastructure investment, we look forward to working with Secretary Buttigieg to continue prioritizing the safety and health of passengers and employees as our industry and the nation looks to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic – the most devastating crisis the airline industry has ever experienced. We also will welcome collaboration with Secretary Buttigieg and the DOT team to prioritize safety, sustainability, modernization, and the quality jobs that this industry supports.”

State transportation officials also said they looked forward to working with Buttigieg.

“The nation faces a number of tremendous challenges, and we know transportation will play a key role in building America back,” said Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. “AASHTO believes the work being done in transportation should endeavor to improve quality of life for all Americans. State DOTs look forward to working with Secretary Buttigieg to make that happen by improving safety; building a more resilient transportation system; and supporting modally diverse options for people and their communities.”