Polly Trottenberg named deputy secretary USDOT for Biden-Harris Administration

Jan. 19, 2021
Trottenberg served in the Obama Administration and most recently stepped down from her post as commissioner of the NYC DOT in December.

The Biden-Harris administration has named Polly Trottenberg to be deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).  

Trottenberg has been serving on the incoming administration’s transportation transition team and has previous experience at USDOT, serving in the Obama-Biden Administration as the assistant secretary for transportation policy and under secretary for policy.

She has also served multiple U.S. senators, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and former U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY).

In December, Trottenberg stepped down from her role as commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT). She was the city’s longest serving NYC DOT commissioner and is credited with implementing New York City’s Vision Zero program, a first in the nation program to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries through a multi-disciplinary approach.

While at NYC DOT, Trottenberg championed transportation equity and access through projects such as the 14th Street Transit and Truck Priority lane pilot program, which in tandem with improvements made by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), produced increased ridership and improved service and reliability.

The Biden-Harris Administration also notes Trottenberg led NYC DOT’s COVID-19 response and recovery, transforming city streets to promote sustainable transportation and economic recovery, including one of the largest outdoor restaurant programs in the country.

Trottenberg will serve with the incoming administration’s Secretary of Transportation nominee Pete Buttigieg to deliver on an expected ambitious transportation and infrastructure platform. Last week, President-elect Joe Biden outlined the first step of his rescue and recovery proposal. The American Rescue Plan will include $20 billion for the transit industry and the incoming administration plans to unveil the second step of the proposal, the Build Back Better plan, in February.

Amtrak Board Chairman Tony Coscia said Trottenberg would be a “great addition” to USDOT.

“With decades of transportation experience, Ms. Trottenberg understands the importance of investing in transportation to expand mobility, reduce carbon emissions and support economic recovery. As we enter our 50th year of service, we look forward to working with President-elect Joe Biden, Transportation Secretary designee Pete Buttigieg and Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg to launch a new era of passenger rail expansion and improvement across the nation, connecting more people by train,” said Coscia.

The American Bus Association offered its congratulations to Trottenberg, adding, “Polly knows our industry well, which will be a big help as we continue to work with congress and the administration to keep this industry alive and moving forward during this pandemic.”

ITS America President and CEO Shailen Bhatt, who worked with Trottenberg previously at USDOT, as well as during Trottenberg’s time as an ITS America board member, believes Trottenberg can move the U.S. toward a “better future transformed by intelligent mobility.”

“She has a depth of experience and understanding for how technology plays a key role in reducing the epidemic of deaths on our roadways, improving congestion, cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the sector and creating an equitable 21st century transportation system,” said Bhatt.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.