Secretary Buttigieg tours trio of transit agencies

July 19, 2021
Secretary Buttigieg visited Lane Transit District, Valley Metro and the Chicago Transit Authority during his national tour promoting infrastructure investment.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg toured three transit agencies last week from Oregon to Illinois to spotlight the need to invest in infrastructure.

Secretary Buttigieg started his transit tour in Oregon on July 14 with U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04) visiting Lane Transit District’s (LTD) Glenwood Offices in Springfield, Ore., where transportation safety, climate and infrastructure was discussed. Secretary Buttigieg and Rep. DeFazio were also able to join a test drive of one of LTD’s electric buses.

Part of the visit was also spent raising awareness for the INVEST in America Act, a five-year surface reauthorization bill authored by Rep. DeFazio. The bill passed the House of Representatives in early July and includes $109 billion for the transit industry and $32 billion for Amtrak.

Secretary Buttigieg’s next stop was at Valley Metro in Phoenix, Ariz., on July 15 where he toured the South Central Extension/Downtown Hub. He viewed construction work at 5th Street and Washington as part of the 5.5-mile light-rail extension. Valley Metro describes the extension, which is expected to open in 2024, as “a catalyst for positive change.” The agency and the Federal Transit Administration finalized a $529.8-million Full Funding Grant Agreement for the project in January.

Secretary Buttigieg ended his week in Chicago where he joined Sen.Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) for a tour of the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) 95th Street Red Line station and received a briefing from CTA President Dorval Carter on the proposed Red Line extension to the city’s far South Side. The 95th Street terminal is one of CTA’s busiest stations. The new terminal opened in January 2019 and includes wider bus lanes, sidewalks and waiting areas for passengers, expanded rail platforms and bus/train tracker signage among other improvements.

“All of us here today know how an infrastructure package could improve the lives of so many Illinoisans,” Sen. Duckworth said. “Projects like the 95th Street Red Line station are a great example of the impact federal funding can have on our communities, but our work doesn’t stop here. I’m hopeful that a Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework will include not only funding for roads and bridges, but other essential pieces such as broadband and getting lead out of our water pipes. Thank you to Secretary Buttigieg for visiting Chicago today to help highlight our need for infrastructure legislation.”

Sen. Duckworth is leading bicameral legislation to boost investment in transit facilities to make them more accessible. The All Stations Accessibility Program Act was introduced to both the House and Senate in May and would establish a discretionary grant program to upgrade existing stations to meet or exceed standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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.