6 Things To Know About Polly Trottenberg

Incoming deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation Polly Trottenberg.
Incoming deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation Polly Trottenberg.
Marc A. Hermann/MTA NYC Transit
Incoming deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation Polly Trottenberg.

6 Things To Know About Polly Trottenberg

The former NYC DOT Commissioner has been tapped for the big leagues.
January 19, 2021

Meet the incoming deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the woman who can compensate for Mayor Pete’s lack of transportation policy experience. If you have walked, driven or biked down a New York City street in the last few years, you might already be familiar with her work, even if you don’t realize it. And if you’re an alternative transportation enthusiast, you’ve got reason to hope she’ll bring her pedestrian and bike-friendly policies to Washington. Here’s what you need to know about what she’ll bring to the Biden administration.

  • She led the New York City Department of Transportation as Commissioner for seven years, and only officially stepped down last month, with an “unannounced new role” on the horizon that many (correctly) speculated would be in the Biden-Harris cabinet. 
  • Some people thought she was a contender for the top position in the U.S. DOT, which ultimately went to former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. While some expresseddismay at the nomination, complaining that running Indiana’s fourth-largest city and proposing to his husband in an airport doesn’t make him a transportation expert, politicians in the cabinet always have deputies doing the real work anyway.
  • She could really help New York City from her new role, from sending more federal aid to the MTA, to congestion pricing, the Gateway project, the BQE and beyond.
  • She has a history of butting heads with Cuomo and being let down by de Blasio. But honestly, whodoesn’t?
  • In her tenure, she’s had some notable wins and losses. You can thank her for the dedicated busway on 14th street, more protected bike lanes, no cars in Central Park and Prospect Park, and the increase in e-bike availability. You can knock her for a hobbled Vision Zero (New York City still had upwards of 200 road fatalities in 2020), but she’s not the only one to blame for that (cough cough Hizzoner).
  • This won’t be her first stint in federal government! Before she was DOT commissioner, she was the assistant secretary for transportation policy and under secretary for policy at the federal DOT during the Obama administration.

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Caitlin Dorman
is City & State's Digital Marketing Strategist.
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