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Tuesday’s Headlines: Congrats to Polly Trottenberg/No Fare Hike Edition

12:03 AM EST on January 19, 2021

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg rode to her press conference celebrating the new Flatbush Avenue protected bike lane. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Our loss is now America's gain — Polly Trottenberg has been nominated to be the deputy Transportation Secretary in the Biden Administration, it was widely reported on Monday.

Everyone covered it — the Post, Gothamist, amNY, the Daily News — after NY1 broke the news. It is likely that Trottenberg, and her likely boss Pete Buttigieg, will be confirmed by the newly Democrat-controlled Senate.

For Trottenberg, it's a return to D.C. after more than seven years as Mayor de Blasio's DOT commissioner. Previously, Trottenberg was an under-secretary for policy at the US DOT.

Biden's transition team called Trottenberg "a national leader" and Transportation Alternatives called the selection "a win for NYC and America" (and even the Teamsters were happy). But one thing stood out in the Biden press release — which might suggest that a Biden DOT will seek to broaden that agency's mission beyond merely moving cars around:

Trottenberg helped implement the nation’s first Vision Zero program, taking a multi-disciplinary approach to eliminating traffic fatalities and injuries. She has also focused on improving transportation equity and access, including implementation of the groundbreaking 14th St. Busway. She led NYCDOT’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.

Vision Zero? The busway? Open streets? Open restaurants? Could all these things become reality across America? Maybe — as the Washington Post pointed out, as mayor of South Bend, Buttigieg challenged the auto-centric status quo by building bike lanes and implementing a Complete Streets policy.

In other news:

    • From the assignment desk: At 11 a.m. today, the Riders Alliance, Transport Workers Union, New York Communities for Change, the Democratic Socialists of America, the Sunrise Movement, Empire State Indivisible, Invest In Our New York, and other progressive organizations were supposed to rally at MTA headquarters to oppose an expected transit fare hike, but it will be something of a victory party now that MTA CEO Pat Foye announced late last night that a fare hike had been put off for "several months" (CBS2, NYDN, NY Post). Riders Alliance responded by saying, "With the regressive MTA fare hike off the table, Gov. Cuomo must now put a stop to state raids on transit-dedicated funds."
    • Speaking of which, Streetsblog has learned that State Sen. Michael Gianaris is all over that topic. Today, the Queens Democrat (and deputy majority leader) will send a letter to Cuomo demanding that he not swipe dedicated state funds from the MTA: "Raising fares in exchange for decreasing dedicated state funding shifts the burden for our current economic crisis onto transit riders in order to help solve the state’s larger budget problems," the letter reads. "The last thing we should be doing at this critical time is increasing the obligations of working people as we navigate our way through this unprecedented hardship."
    • Meanwhile, the MTA is still have staffing problems due to COVID. (The City)
    • The Daily News editorial board supports affordable housing near the Gowanus. That’s cool, but there were no words on how affordable housing is rarely affordable to the people it is supposed to be affordable for.
    • ICYMI: The Times did its own investigation into the suicide of Moynihan Train Hall builder Michael Evans.
    • Queens Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who bailed on his race for Queens Borough President last year, just announced that he's ... running for Queens Borough President. His launch video highlights his progressive positions, but the current Borough President, former Council Member Donovan Richards, only just took over late last year and he is the first Black man to hold the position, so, um, is this the best time to be trying to retire him? (Van Bramer launch via YouTube). The Daily News also covered.

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