Obama Names Transpo Transition Team

The Obama-Biden transition team today unveiled its "Agency Review Teams" — the people charged with "a thorough review of key departments, agencies and commissions of the
United States government, as well as the White House, to provide the
President-elect, Vice President-elect, and key advisors with
information needed to make strategic policy, budgetary, and personnel
decisions prior to the inauguration."

We skipped right to the transportation team, of course, and here are the names we found, with biographical info pulled directly from the change.gov website. We’d love to get your intel in the comments.

  • Seth Harris
    is a member of the Obama-Biden Transition Project’s Agency Review
    Working Group responsible for overseeing review of the transportation
  • Mortimer Downey is a self-employed transportation
    consultant who served for eight years as the
    Deputy Secretary of Transportation under President Clinton, and was an
    Assistant Secretary of Transportation during the Carter Administration.
    He has also been the Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of
    the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and
    held various planning positions at the Port Authority of New York and
    New Jersey.
  • Jane Garvey is the Head of the U.S. Public/Private
    Partnerships at JPMorgan. In this role Garvey advises states on
    financing strategies to accelerate project delivery for governments.
    Garvey was the 14th Administrator of the Federal Aviation
    Administration, nominated by President Clinton. Prior to becoming FAA Administrator, Garvey
    was Acting Administrator and previously Deputy Administrator of the
    Federal Highway Administration.
  • Michael Huerta is Group President of ACS
    Transportation Solutions, a company that provides technology solutions
    for collecting revenue, enhancing safety and promoting security for the
    transportation industry. From 1993 to 1998, Huerta served in senior
    positions at the Department of Transportation. Previously, Huerta served
    as the Executive Director of the Port of San Francisco and Commissioner
    of the City of New York Department of Ports, International Trade and
  • Federal Maritime Commission Review Team Lead John Cullather has worked for the House of
    Representatives for over 31 years, specializing in Coast Guard and
    maritime transportation policy.
  • NTSB Review Team Lead Carol Carmody currently works as a consultant in
    international aviation and aviation safety. In 2000 she was appointed
    by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate to a five-year term on
    the National Transportation Safety Board.
  • Okay, so we’ve got a team leader, a transit planner, an aviation administrator, a transportation security expert, a boat guy and another airplane woman. No freight rail, Amtrak or intercity bus people. And no Zeppelin people!

    It’s great to see that there’s no highway builders on board. It’d probably be too much to ask for a bike person with such a small mode share, let alone people who work with roller-skate or kayak commuters. But why no pedestrian expert? (I can just hear the bureaucrats at the DOT going, “They have pedestrian experts?”) No experts on smart growth and the land use-transportation connection. Did they really need two airplane people?

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I don’t know about that Captain. Jane Garvey has strong asphalt cred and has been a driver of the PPP tendency to privatize the social will to toll.

  • Robert

    Cap’n Transit said:

    It’s great to see that there’s no highway builders on board.

    In fact, Garvey was Acting Administrator and previously Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. Looking around, though, I have not yet found anything that indicates her stance on transit or roads.

  • Thanks for setting me straight, both of you. It says right there in the excerpt that Garvey ran the FHWA. Wishful thinking on my part, I guess.

    So yes, this is disappointing. Nice that they put this Downey guy in there, who has apparently gotten awards from passenger rail advocacy organizations, but none of these “team leads” seems interested in smart growth, pedestrian issues, or anyone who’s interested in transportation beyond planes, trains and automobiles. Even if they have people like that on the teams, will they be heard by the team leaders?

  • Ian Turner

    Are smart growth, cycling, walking, or livable streets really federal issues?

  • Are smart growth, cycling, walking, or livable streets really federal issues?

    They are, because federal laws, regulations, funding formulas and general bureaucratic willingness influence individuals’ choices of where to live, work and shop, developers’ choices of where and how to build housing, workplaces and shopping, and how people get from one place to the other.

    For the past sixty plus years, federal priorities have all favored single-use zoning, office and industrial “parks,” housing subdivisions and highways. It has taken a lot for places like New York and Portland to resist it. A president who is clearly committed to smart growth and livable streets – and to discouraging sprawl and highways – can have a tremendous impact. Even more so if congress has similar priorities.

  • Miguel Marcos

    > Are smart growth, cycling, walking, or livable streets really
    > federal issues?

    They will be. The administration is creating a White House Office of Urban Policy.


  • Ian Turner

    I know that federal policies have had a huge effect on the way that land use decisions have been made at a local level. But rather than trying to move the direction of this influence, wouldn’t it be best for the feds to just get out of the zoning business altogether?

  • I would say that the extensive highway funding is more influential than any effect the federal government has on zoning.

  • Ian Turner

    Doesn’t federal highway policy have an effect on zoning?

  • Barnard

    #1: It is very sad that there is no one with traffic safety expertise here (if there is, someone please correct me). It seems that plane crashes = transportation safety for the Obama transition team. The lead reviewer for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an aviation safety consultant. Consider this:

    * Annually, about 120 people die in plane crashes in the U.S.
    * Annually, 40,000+ people die in traffic crashes here.

    And, if you were to calculate these statistics by passenger mile traveled, I bet you’d find an even more alarming discrepancy between airline and highway safety.

    (Besides, Obama’s airline policy should focus on getting people out of planes and on to high-speed rail. I know, Americans will love that!)

    #2 I agree with the Cap’n that transportation spending has a huge, huge impact on land use, smart growth, livable streets and, of course, walking, biking and transit use. For the past generation, the bulk of federal transportation funds have been programmed for highways. Look where that’s got us.

    The next federal transportation bill needs to set mode shift goals to reduce VMT and increase transit, walking and cycling. States and localities should be required to develop their own transportation plans to be ranked against national goals and awarded funding accordingly.

    Cities also need direct access to federal funds. This is done for HUD and Homeland Security. Why should NYC, which has something like the 4th biggest DOT in the nation, have to go through Albanya to access federal transportation dollars? (If someone has a good answer for this, I’m very interested.) Most Americans live in urban areas, and most of our GDP comes from them. In every local jurisdiction, forcing local government to go through state capitols delays projects and makes them more expensive.

    If the nation is serious about combating global warming and public health ills and reducing traffic delay and strengthening commerce, then the federal government has a responsibility to direct much, much more money towards transportation alternatives.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The federal government has a responsibility to direct much, much more money towards transportation alternatives.”

    The federal government is going to face the mother of all financial crises, and will have no money for transportation. So I hope Obama’s team won’t be spinning grand plans.

    Bicycles, walking, carpooling and telecommuting cost little in public funds. Rather than investing in transit, people will have to take advantage of those options, or move to places where transit already exists.


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