Pete Buttigieg took office in January, 2021, as the 19th U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Secretary Buttigieg served two terms as mayor of his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. A graduate of Harvard University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Buttigieg served for seven years as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, taking a leave of absence from the mayor’s office for a deployment to Afghanistan in 2014.In South Bend, “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg worked across the aisle to transform the city’s future and improve residents’ everyday lives.In 2019, Secretary Buttigieg launched a historic campaign for president, and in 2021 made history as the first openly gay person confirmed to serve in a president’s Cabinet.View the profile
Jonathan T. Capehart (born July 2, 1967) is an American journalist and television personality. He writes for The Washington Post's PostPartisan blog and is host of The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart on MSNBC .View the profile
About the talk
Pete Buttigieg took office in January, 2021, as the 19th U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Secretary Buttigieg served two terms as mayor of his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. A graduate of Harvard University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Buttigieg served for seven years as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, taking a leave of absence from the mayor’s office for a deployment to Afghanistan in 2014.
In South Bend, “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg worked across the aisle to transform the city’s future and improve residents’ everyday lives.
In 2019, Secretary Buttigieg launched a historic campaign for president, and in 2021 made history as the first openly gay person confirmed to serve in a president’s Cabinet. Secretary Buttigieg lives with his husband Chasten and their rescue dogs, Buddy and Truman.
Thank you very much. You for that introduction. And thank you, Pete, buttigieg the 19th, Secretary of Transportation, for being here. Great to see you again, Mister secretary. Same here, Grace be with you and really honored to be on the stage as was mentioned at South by Southwest. I think was a turning point in our campaign so I can't wait to be back out in person with a mayor Adler and all our friends in Austin. Hopefully next year, but the honor to be part of this virtual event. Let's talk about your journey as you mentioned in in his introduction. You were the little-known
mayor of South Bend Indiana when I first interviewed you in December 2018, by the time we talked again and may 2019 a CNN Town Hall at turned you into the breakout star of the Democratic presidential feel. And when we met again in Charleston, South Carolina, just a year ago, you'd already become the first LGBT can the president to win a state. You want Iowa, many people might not realize that or know that given to all the glitches with the app and then less than a week later, you ended your presidential.
Paying it was a remarkable rise to watch from my vantage point. What was it like for you? In some ways I'm still processing The Experience because when you're in it, you are in it and each day brought a whole new level of excitement and in momentum. Other thing I would say was that it was an experience in getting to know an entire country. All at once when you were mayor I you you certainly feel like you're operating at a high speed and dealing with all kinds of different issues. But then you get through this process, the catapults you across the
country and at the same time is very intimate because it it focuses on a handful of states that you get to know so well. And one of the things I said, whatever reforms coming in the future of of nominating process has one thing that I hope we can always preserve his. Is that way that every candidate, whether you're a former vice president or whether you're an obscure mayor has to Humble themselves and in people's backyards and living rooms and diners in and really make your case Marin and really get to know people. And now you're talking to us as the Secretary of Transportation
and you were the first openly LGBT 2 + person to be a cabinet secretary. What does it mean to you to break that glass ceiling? What means a lot? I mean I can remember in the 1990s as a teenager when there were a lot of new stories about President Clinton proposing to a point and Ambassador Ambassador who was openly gay. And in the end, he got jammed up in the Senate. Couldn't even get a vote. Only was able to serve eventually because of recess and I do the long way from
understanding, what that story might mean to me at the time, I don't think I did any Ambitions of being appointed by President any, but it was a story that I thought about a lot and actually reached out to him is named after after I was named in any, let me know that you actually made a point of asking to be appointed your name to something that the Senate would have to vote on knowing that they would stand in the way. And I think, you know, the history of the lgbtq community and more broadly, the history of inclusion and acceptance. It is really pays by people like that make the
sacrifices knowing that they're going to chip away at that wall. So sure that story a few times around the time that I was named, my husband, chaste, and reminded me. I've been have been reading the book by the deviants War by Eric cervini which was talked about the struggles that went on during the lavender scared, as it was known under the Eisenhower Administration just how deep the patterns of exclusion were we talked a lot about in my life. You're being a presidential appointee who's out or what it took to be able to serve in the military people in the lgbtq community. But just a
generation or two ago, I mean, certainly within the memory of some people watching this program. There were people who never mind being a soldier or a cat that officer couldn't be a bookkeeper or an astronomer in the federal government because you were considered a threat just by virtue of being different. So it's a reminder of how much has changed Of course also I think propulsion to see through the further changes that need to happen until it's no big deal and recognizing how many other ceiling need to be broken in and are being broken. I am in the sky. I was just in a
virtual meeting with with several members of the first time I got to do with sex or Adam Holland said, she was confirmed for a woman to be surveying. This is one of many reasons, I'm so excited to be part of this team. Let me get your thoughts on something that a beautiful friend of ours, Richie Jackson, a Broadway producer in a column celebrating your your appointment to be Secretary of Transportation at this column in The Advocate where he takes issue with the term, quote, openly gay. And he wrote In The Advocate openly, Appliance audaciousness signaling vented out.
Lgbtq plus person is not the norm and this particular lgbtq plus person isn't, as shameful as warranted. The term is four, straight people, not for us. It is their marker, not ours. And then he says the word out belongs to us. And that's how we should describe ourselves because as he rides in the quote, out his hard-fought and hard-won. The crowning achievement of each of her own specific stories of bravery. And resilience would love your thoughts on that real fast. I like that. I think you know where in the moment we were really realizing how vocabulary matters and it's it's a great
Point. Again we want to get to the point where there is nothing presumptive about why you wouldn't we know we're a long way and frankly within our own Community we need to make sure that we are showing regard for people's very different Journey being out because it is that is a very different experience for people, depending where you live, where you come from and what you're like, the substance of your of your job from the perch. In your purse, at the Department of Transportation, will the American Rescue plan, be beneficial to you and the agency and if so, how
are because there is something on the order of 40 billion dollars that are coming through our through our pipes, so to speak. And we've got to make sure our spend well, but we got a fantastic staff and and so many career employees, I know how to make sure that that happens. What are the reasons that the rescue plan was so important from the transportation for effective is that it contains resources to keep our Transit, agency's going Outlook art, residencies got crushed in terms of Revenue because of the Fallen ridership. The same thing happened to
Amtrak lot of folks don't know that Amtrak actually had just achieve operational leading in the black date. They were running a positive number on their books which are given the constraints of Amtrak. That's me. And it happened just before covid soon, they lost more than 90% of their Riders and so the resources in here for an tractor also critically important for an organization, it was going to have to look at cutting even more routes dropping employees in the private sector. You got Aviation where thousands of early warnings or notices, we're going out to flight attendants across
the country and one of the times I was really smiling at as we saw the news of the rescue plan passing Play out. Was it seeing messages from the airline saying you can tear up those? Furlough notices, your jobs are safe and that's what the plan was about this about. Getting through this, incredibly tough moment, it was about supporting American workers in in families and let me be very clear. Some post saying, was that have to do with it. First of all, it's because we wouldn't be here. If it weren't for the transportation sector. We can't give people their
vaccines. They literally can get teens are in one of the reasons why supporting Transit matters so much, especially for people who are Transit dependent and don't have access to a car. All of these things are connected. The design of the American Rescue plan recognize that and I'm thrilled that it passed. You know, one of the expectations is now here in Washington is now that the American Rescue plan is now law and done that. The next big, massive legislation that's going to roll through Congress is going to be in infrastructure plan. Bill
of some sort. What would a truly forward-looking infrastructure plan for America look like Well, it's definitely time. It's it's past time and you know, in the last Administration infrastructure week became a punchline because we kept getting our hopes up for something big to happen on infrastructure and it never did. I think we're close to the beginning of what? I'm going to call infrastructure season and if you do it right, this is going to be in infrastructure nekkid because there was so much demonstrated need. If there's a combination of things happening right now with added up
together, I think or a once-in-a-century opportunity, and a once-in-a-century imperative to do big things in it. A lot of times in the discussion about this people point to the last big move like this, which was the creation of the interstate highway system under President Eisenhower. You would have to go almost a century before that to see something is big and that would be President Lincoln seeing through the Transcontinental Railroad. If you want to go back even further you can look at the creation of the Erie Canal which is important, even if you don't
care about the now really helps make the Various States into one United States of America economically. I think this moment could be on par with those moments to create a vision or what infrastructure needs to look like in this twenty-first Century. There were already a fifth of the way through. What is it actually means concretely? Well, let me start with something unglamorous, which is fixing and improving. What we've already got. A trillion-dollar backlog, just in the roads in the bridges. We already have, we got to fix it. And I know this is probably heresy in Texas, but
I'll add that there are some things that may need to be reduced. Sometimes roads need to be widened, sometimes roads need to go on a diet. And as mayor, I saw that we had a lot of paved surfaces in our community, where every square inch of pavement was something that I had to make sure it was plowed and repaired and patched up and deal with water that ran off of it. In other words, there's a cost of ownership, every square inch of pavement, this country. So we should be adding Ants attracted to optimize what we've already got. Next thing, we got to do, as part of that vision is get ready
for our climate future transportation to be part of the solution. Check. It has to be because transportation is the biggest part of the problem. We were the biggest sector when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, which means improving transportation. Is the biggest thing we can do to get our economy on the right track, a better transportation Vision includes Equity, understanding that inequities, especially racial inequities in our country are often created or worsen either, by a lack of investment for my investment. The took, the destructive shape of a highway destroying, for example,
of thriving. Black neighborhood has happened over and over, and over again, and we got to make sure that a future policies actually helping to create and not working in the opposite direction, mention is competitive. So other countries are not hesitating effect by some estimates of China's investing more on infrastructure in the US. And you're a fine right now that amounts to a strategic advantage that we don't want to see that become permanent and we've got to fix our roads and bridges. You got to upgrade our national airspace, got to have passenger rail, worthy of the
leading economy world. And we've got to make sure that our vehicle Manor Greener safer and if people have alternatives to getting into vehicles at all, Azteca. You said something in your answer a moment ago that caught my attention in that was I think he said, other roadways have to be put on a diet or pavement has to be put on a diet. That does that mean then reducing the size of a highways but of roadways and reclaiming that or say, either park space Open Spaces or bike Lanes. Things like that in some places. Yes.
You know, it in the fifties, the mentality around roads, was that they existed for one purpose now is to move as many cars as you could as fast as he could, and design with cities were shaped based on that assumption. It turns out that we're better off. If our decisions revolve not around the car but around the human being. Now sometimes that human beings in a card, we got to make sure that car can get where it needs to efficiently and safely. We're on a bicycle. And one thing that, I don't think a lot of Americans are aware of, is how far behind we are on bicycle and pedestrian.
Another words other developed countries are safer to walk or bike on and then then American streets, typically are the design choices. We make. How fast cars moved while their plans and sidewalks sharing space with with travel and green space. Even all of this is part of that picture and it is an example of what it means to have a truly forward-looking approach on infrastructure times we do need to add a road or white and one just as awesome. I think we need to work in a question here from soaring, Jensen and Soarin as moving towards the goal of a carbon-neutral
world. In 2050, what would be as seen from the US Department of Transportation? The top three breakthroughs political technological. Excetra needed in transport and infrastructure to address climate change and prevent further damage to the What some of the breakthroughs? We need our Technical and electric vehicles are a good example. We are gradually approaching the point where an electric vehicle is actually cheaper to buy a new phone and a gas vehicle were not quite there depending what class of car you're talking about. But we're close to one of the reasons why you see
Detroit moving aggressively in this direction. When that happens, that's still not enough for everybody to go electric. If only because of the concern about range anxiety. That's why the president is committed to putting up half a million charging stations around the country. And then we got to work with the Department of energy to make sure the grid is ready for that. So, I'll point to that potential breakthrough of electrification of of cars as part of the solution but it has to be accompanied by another breakthrough. Which is where we get our energy from. Remember if your car is electric and
your electricity comes from coal, then it's not running clean car, even though it's not burning gas in the engine, is another example. How we got a tickle system together. As far as a political breakthrough, what I think really needs to happen is for us to be competed across the political Spectrum, or how to best achieve the goal of making. The US carbon people by 2050, another words, I want there to be a vigorous debate between the Republican vision for getting us to NetZero by 2015 and the Democratic and Republican friends. Don't talk about how to do that
very often, but we want to be arguing over whose whose plan to do his best rather than whether we should do it at all. Because frankly, route, a time for that literally can't afford the state bog down the last break through that, I think is important is a breakthrough in Attitude. Among all of us American people about how we feel. And what we think when were taking up challenges related to climate Austin, we think of it in terms of Doom, and, and I understand why the scenarios are terrifying or what will happen. If This was already in this country from Texas
freezing over to wild fires out west floods in my part of the country and more but ultimately I want us to be singing the climate not as a source of Doom. What is a point of pride is a little more of a propulsive and less of the paralyzing emotions and guilt, this could be a national project as is starting to happen with the way that the US Auto industry. For example, is meeting the climate challenge with electric vehicle, we need the same thing to be happening in aviation, in shipping in in the show. Me to sign City so you can get around without having
to get into a car in the first place. Increasingly all of that should be part of a national project and they so proud that that makes us lead authentically, leave the world and I'll tell you some of these conversations that I'm in their lead at the White House by Gina McCarthy who's coordinating, our domestic policy on this secretary, John Kerry was taking the lead on our International work. All supportive of the president's Vision to do exactly that. So we got the right leadership to make a change in mentality for all of us to make this our project.
Berlin on. I think it was a point to in the political point and he has it has to be a bigger, is a conversation between Democrats and Republicans to address. The needs are certainly, the story question about being carbon-neutral in the America's role in that wet. How can you as Secretary of Transportation? If not talk to Republican members on the hill to try to have a substance of conversation about climate? Is there anything you can do to talk to their constituents about how important these goals are? And why they need to have their
members of Congress support, what you're trying to do, overall, Yes, and let me begin, especially for the audience we have here by noting that the business Community is perhaps further along than a lot of congressional Republicans are when it comes to climb. This is the time for us to break the old idea of climate vs. Jobs and instead recognize the new reality of job creation and climate action. Going hand-in-hand business sees this because it's a world that is animated by data and you can no longer ignore the cold hard reality
of climate change. So I think that the continuing to elevate those voices who want America to be more competitive, it is going to be one way to get the attention of other wise. Reluctant going directly to constituents, is important to be saying most Americans already, get it. Even if you live in Red State especially if you live in rural communities, anybody in Farming for example can be to climate change and I mean my Indiana home town has had to Once in a millennium floods, just
my second term as mayor alone. This is happening more and more often on the harm side and on the opportunity side, I think we can be having conversations that are not red state-blue, State conversations for American Community conversation about how we can win by doing the right thing on clime. And letting those folks know maybe have been told especially in cold communities or industrial areas like where I need a workers. Just feel like they've been told they're part of the problem. Making sure that we are enlisting them to be part of the solution. We can get this done without
without them. We can get some of that everybody. Steven Clank wants you to die. Dive in a little deeper on High-Speed Rail. And he asked, do you see High-Speed Rail fitting into the transportation mix going forward? And I will answer that. How? So I do and and I can't make it happen alone. So for those who are excited about this, this is a great moment for everybody to be speaking up. I think about it is pretty simple. I think that a US citizen ought to enjoy the highest standard passenger rail service, and there's no reason why was available to use
the u.s. citizen. Stay in Texas, on to be inferior, to the passenger. Rail options are available to a Japanese or British or French or Italian, or Chinese. And obviously that's not the reality. So we got to fix it. One of many reasons we've got to fix it. Is that it's also a much better from a climate perspective, but let's think about the economic are the major populated areas of Texas to each other or of the Midwest where I come from you each other with a passenger Rail and have that supplementing. What's available with cars and what's available with with the aviation and
air travel? We would be a more economically connect. More productive country to me. It's a no-brainer. Now it comes with an investment, it comes with the car. What's his knowledge that you know what that is driving in roads and in an energy industry that that's part of making that all possible. So let's be real. That this has to be a national Choice. Interesting, Lee in the US, there is a Highway trust fund, dedicated predictable dollars or supporting our roads that helps us keep our our Aviation sector going.
There is nothing like that on the real side and as long as our passenger rail systems have to live hand them out from federal support at work, we're going to be behind. So I think this is a great moment with a president who is famously fond of and understands the economic potential of Passenger, rail me as an Enthusiast in this role in American public. Curious about this, I think we got a great moment to do it. Last thing I'll mention is it if it wasn't obvious from what I just said, is again, this is not just a coastal or for a blue State thing. Know the
North Face quarter is huge, it's obvious, they were most of our volume of and speed of Passenger rail. Travel is right now, we got two Shore that up, but this should be a nationwide priority. Let's talk a little bit more about this and I'm glad you mentioned Italy, because Italy's high speed trains are incredible. And it's the last place, I think a lot of people would think of is having high speed rail, but when I go to Italy and jump on the train and I'm in places in no time, I think back to all the times, I've written on the Acela, going back and forth to New York and how long that
and how that's supposed to be our version of of High-Speed Rail. How do you convince folks in the middle of the country who think that rail rail service and rail traffic is just a coastal thing? The benefits of having high speed, rail line, did you mention it? Imagine connecting Texas cities with high speed rail. Convince the folks who were watching in Texas or in other so-called red States, convinced them that, you know, what being able to get from point A to point B, and Half the time or less than half the time. It would take
to drive is actually beneficial to you. Just think about it. You don't have to be doing the driving and you don't have to be going through some of the steps that we have to do to get between these communities. Floating mention. Something else that I think he's convincing whether you're expecting to be a passenger or not jobs. Number of jobs that can be created both construction, jobs in the short-term and long-term jobs that are created through this. Economic growth are enormous benefits and lift up entire Community is not a
risky or mysterious proposition. The human species has done roof leak on passenger rail in the places. They've been willing to do it but not since the days of Lincoln have we seen at the precipice of an opportunity, like we are now, Lincoln was right to see how important real was to this country and I think President Biden is too. Siri Greenberg, I have a question about Equity Equity. She asked for. Can you describe how you will address Equitable access to transportation for resource communities? That have suffered from systemic racism? This is hugely important and it's
one of our core priorities. In this department, only mentioned, a couple of examples of how this has been. Its take one is that especially during that that. And in the fifties when a lot of Highway construction went on off in the path of least resistance was a black or brown neighborhood didn't have a political power to resist, but it was more than that. It wasn't just incidental that often highways tore up on mine or ties groups neighborhoods and communities. Sometimes I was by Design sometimes say a highway was considered a way to solve two problems at once and clear out a neighborhood that
was considered undesirable. They're all kinds of things that are physically built into our transportation system. That exclude under Robert, Moses. Overpasses were design intentionally, too short for buses to pass under. So that the black and Puerto Rican kids going to get the dishes that were intended at least unofficially to be reserved or a white New York species are things that that are physically in our system everywhere. And unlike a lot of other patterns of exclusion when they are literally in the concrete very hard to reverse, even if you find that there was a civil
rights violation, if it only comes along after something was billed, not much that you can do about it. It's one of the reasons why we're reinvigorating the office of civil rights here at the Department of Transportation, which as you might imagine, did not get a lot of resources are retention during the Trump Administration. We are re-energizing. That in the Fantastic people who work there, not only to try to respond to the complaints, to the merge, our title, 6 of civil rights law, a big help. Get ahead of some of these things. All projects are still being designed and
built so that a bad project and be reshaped. And so the good project gets neighborhoods that there are what are called Transit desert. You know, a lot about food deserts, a neighborhood, typically, communities of color where there's not any good access to Quality healthy food. Same thing is true for transportation and a Transit desert is really an opportunity desert if you can't get to a job. And so many people, we saw this. Certainly in South Bend at work on in a bit of a poverty trap. Where are you didn't have a high wage enough job to be able to purchase a car. You needed a car in order
to lock down a better job and you wound up a relying on maybe an unreliable cousin with an unreliable car and when the unreliable transmission gave out you might lost your new lose your job, for the very least loosen that we can't allow people to be on. And it's part of why we need to have equity on our mind, as we're making, what could be one of the biggest Investments we've ever made, is a country in the future of our transportation. Last thing I want to mention here, so we can take a whole hour on this, we've got to make sure we're building up a business, labor base that reflects the
communities, where these projects are happening, and it's going to be difficult. It's going to be difficult because there are so many structural and systemic things that have kept things the way they are and good, intentions won't be enough, but we need to be working now proactive to find ways to build a business owned by those who are from the community should have been excluded. Whenever we're seeing a project out there, that is funded with federal dollars to make sure the workers getting those good jobs look like. Can you talk about how the Department of Transportation
uses data in its decision-making process and what kinds of data and what are the processes that data used to drive these decision? So I'm like a kid in a candy store in this department because it's full of fellow nerds who have access to and custody of incredible amounts of data which can help us all a lot of questions and help us make better decisions. To be honest, I'm still getting my arms around some of the resources and assets that we have in this department. What I can tell you is that data is going to be increasingly vital to
making good decisions about transportation. We have ways of curing the date of the Warren available before, it's especially important, for the safety perspective. Remember, all the other things, I talk about climate Equity job creation, rest on the foundation of why this department actually exist, which is, to keep our travel safe and we now have more data than ever on what works. And what doesn't, what kind of Highway designs me to fewer crashes? I will kind of speeds are compatible in different contexts urban and rural with fewer fatalities in in fewer injuries,
kind of designs. Do we need to promote? What should we create rules about? And what should we just incentive eyes or encourage all of these answers? I think, Li at least partly in the data that are out there and also circling back the equity, we need to do a better job of counting up who wins and who loses when a transportation decision is made because that and often those are factual questions that could be answered a but we never stopped to collect information at Ella, and I asked you Couple of perhaps might be seeing his controversial
questions that are popped into my head, listening to your answers. Particularly when it comes to the big projects ahead, in the big idea is the hat and you can have to pay for these somehow now here in Washington. No one cares about deficits anymore and literal blank checks are being written or at least in the last Administration. Everything but I was wondering where are you in terms of or the administration in terms of the gas cap because that's how that that funds you were talking about at least in the past and correct me if I'm wrong. This is how the highway
fun was funded through the cat for the gas tax. Should that gas tax raise? So you're right, the highway trust fund was funded almost entirely. Well, originally in its entirety by a tax on gasoline, it's not anymore because the gas tax isn't adding up to enough. The last time it was adjusted was 1993 and it wasn't set up to rise with inflation. While it's true that an adjustment to the gas tax would bring in more Revenue. The truth is that would have asked me a medium-term solution cuz you're using less gas. And if we solve the challenges, we need
to in terms of electric patient before long, we'll be using no gas at all. So it's one of the reasons why I think there's less excitement about this as anything but a medium-term, a stopgap solution. Then there would have been if we're having this conversation for a decade ago, I just hope the question. How do you pay for this? Is the beginning, and not the end of the conversation. Sometimes people use that as a way to stop us in our tracks when we were talking about great idea. Look, this is not a cosmically. Simple question are three ways you can pay for this. Some kind of
feet user fee. Like a gas tax more General taxes that are collected or borrowing against your taxes. Those are pretty much your options. There's a public-private Partnerships out there. Sometimes you can mobilize private Capital to be part of the solution, but for the bulk of it, that's how it's going to have to happen. And what we've got to decide is what litical will we have to assemble one or more of those tools to do the job? I want thing that I found a lot of Mayors and governors is that even people were very hostile in general to the idea of taxes
look-alikes, but even conservative communities, people will support an increase in Revenue if they know what it's going for. And when we know exactly what we need to do, especially when it comes to just fixing what we have a filling in the potholes fixing. The bridges that can be dangerous, not just inconvenient and costly. Because of the damage in the delays that have it is very clear that it is worth these Investments. Are they were talking about raising revenue or frankly whether were talking about I'll look into bonding and borrow it as a general rule
in in business, you borrow when you think you're going to get a better return and and that's what makes it prudent to do it. One of the fast is infrastructure. The economic power, is it unlocked. So obviously this is an ongoing conversation. I'm talking a lot with Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the hill about what combination of tools we can use the van. This has got to be partially, be paid for a, but I also think there's a case for recognizing that either long-term investment that that dessert at whether there's an
immediate Revenue Source in some cases or not. I'm going to save the other controversial questions for once you've been in the job of a year, I'll save that for then he is a question from Kristin Anderson and she's at and she asked if you remember visiting the Town Hall in Oslo on a tour with Den Transportation secretary. Anthony Foxx together with mayor Steven Adler of Austin, learning about innovative ways to get the transportation challenges of the future. And now that you are the Secretary of Transportation yourself, will this International cooperation resume. She also asks or
says, if you want, you can say something in Norwegian, my Norwegian pronunciation on anybody now, but that wasn't for me to strip for me, first of all, because I was when I first got to know mayor Adler and his wife Diane well, and that became a wonderful friendship is also true. When is now a senior advisor here at the apartment? I recruited? Haven't gotten to know him there and it was where I saw in Secretary foxes leadership. What it looks like to have an approach to this Department of
Transportation is not just about repeating, what we've always done, but putting things like equity in the spotlight and recognizing the Secretary of Transportation out of these thinking about walking and biking Justice watches as that, we think about the trains planes and Automobiles and the one who thinks we saw traveling to and I was in May or as part of the delegation, we were traveling to the cities that had some of the best records in the world on bicycle safety and making it easier to get around on two wheels. In fact, Oslo and Copenhagen and Amsterdam, I would be all visited have a
bit of a competition over who who's the best at this and, you know, it's easy, I think for us Americans to say, well, okay, there Europe This northern Europe. Scandinavia everybody knows, they're there different there, they're all about this. But the thing is, they explained to us how in the 70s or 60s you would have seen them just as car oriented independent, as we are, and they explain the policy choices that made it easier to get around by car and buy bike in the cities of the country, and it's really remarkable. What can happen if your intentional. Especially from a safety perspective,
we learned as part of that trip is not to over design. Oh, we saw an area in Amsterdam which is as multimodal. Is it gets you have a ferry that arrives on a, on a street area, a close to. Where there is there is there is light rail near a train station. Will the pedestrians of people getting off on bikes and cars going through? And they tried every witch way to regulate and organize all of the different kinds of traffic getting with each other and in the end I found it less was more actually there the fewer lines. You paid it on the street and then either few workers you try
to create more people just for their head up, paid attention to each other, stayed out of each other's way. And it actually went up favor. You can learn a lot, we shouldn't be too proud as a country until learn from what's going on in other countries and cities when it comes to making good choices about transportation. And, and yes, I want International engagement to be a big part of the conversation with Canadians, led by President Biden and more about foreign Ministers of Transportation. Then
I can count and a whole lot of Ambassador is here and deceit or excited to collaborate collaborate, especially on the climate issue, which is one of those things that no country can do alone. We've got to be coordinating the other. But also were talking about things like the safe return to international travel after covid. And some of the technology issues that they are emerging that they're controlling all of our country's. This is an example of how the return to a u.s. presidents of the US leadership, that the present line has been talking about from the earliest days is
It's part of what that looks like it is. It's not just in, in your most glamorous moments of State diplomacy or issues a chance to grab the headlines, his cooperation around things, like transportation, and that'll absolutely be part of what we do here, especially when it does become possible to hit. That you are confirmed to your position, as Secretary of Transportation on February 3rd, if memory serves. So you've only been in the position for a month and maybe we can what I'm wondering if your brand new
in the job. So how are you defining success for your tenure at the department? When I leave this job when whenever that is I want to be able to look back and say that my presence here helped to make the 2020s. A turning point in the story of America's best vacation help to make Transportation, a source of opportunity and an equitable source of opportunity. And the transportation came to be known as the Forefront of the solutions to climate change in our country. And I think we have the right combination of circumstances and make it happen. So I'm
challenging our team to deliver on those gold and of course, the other thing that defines a successful and you're here in this department is all the things that don't have rashes that don't happen to fatalities the disruptions that we maintain the safest possible transportation system. If I were a genie then I could Grant you one, egg, Transportation Transportation with wish what's the one thing you would really like to have happen in the realm of transportation, that would make things better
for the for the country. Is it a high speed rail line from Los Angeles to New York? Is it the entire nation people driving around only in electric vehicle? Pie in the Sky. What would be the the number one thing you would love to be able to do you're tempting me to wish for more wishes cuz it's hard to pick. Just one but what I've been doing? All right. Movie ideal is for every way of getting around to have the same emissions as riding a bicycle which is to say not at all. I know we, we increasingly see how to do it with the car we increasingly see how to
do with trains and buses, increasingly heavy duty vehicles to aviation's tougher to figure out how to do it. There's what's called sustainable Aviation fuels, which is changing the answer there. A lot of interesting things happening with with fuel cells, and compulsion work for a long way off from that. So, I might use the magic wand on that, in an airplane, have the same emissions as a bicycle. I wish I had that one that magic wand for you. Here's a question from the time that we have Michael Myers in this, have to do with public service
and I didn't and I'm paraphrasing here. How can I Dynamic young leader like you inspire the Next Generation to answer the call a public service at the Department of Transportation in across the government? Well, that's a really great question. It's on my mind a lot. We need to call a generation of American to be part of the solution and I will tell you from, from my time in this building already equality and the purpose that I just animes that the people who work in this department is extraordinary,
we need more coming up the ranks to look at our own makeup, is it apartment? And found? First of all that while it's against the nominal Workforce here it doesn't. It is wider and much more male than the country as a whole going to change them. You think I found out is that in our staff, among the people who work in this department on I.T, 1% are under the age of 31 per cent of Rit are under the age of 30. So we're going to have some issues as people retire. If we aren't recruiting a new generation to be bringing
those perspectives and to be signing up for the opportunities of public service. And I think some people get scared off by the idea of career federal employment. The idea that unless you're ready to do that, and do it for twenty or thirty years belong, to a generation that the kind of expect to change careers every few years. It doesn't match how people see themselves. So we got to make sure were created. We're doing our part for any more flexible ways to have a successful career ready, come in and out of them, not just at the political level but it's a career level 2. But also tell you
this, it is incredibly rewarding. I mean, we're literally shaping how people and goods are going to move around the country and Blues. On the world at a moment where there's more changes happening in that area, electric vehicles, automation, things were about to speak to do around, climate has never mattered more or at least. It's rarely not be willing to bring your towel out of service. I'll say the kind of people who were tuning in, it was South by Southwest talk or the kind of people who I hope are considering how you could be part of the solution. I want to see the kinds of people who went
to NASA in the 60s, or Silicon Valley in the 90s. If he coming into public service in, the 2020 is the American projects on the line and we need great people in every corner of this Federal and oppressed And I hear you on that but I'm sure there's someone who's also listening and taking that sounds great, but I'm afraid to go into public service because of what happens to people who go into public service, the public scrutiny on the way. Social media is at that level. How do you convince that person for whom public service is something they would love
to do, but the personal sacrifice, they might feel that they would have to endure is just a bridge too far. well it especially at the high-profile political level, but even if a few layers in, I guess one way, I'd answer that question is If you're not willing to do it for those reasons and people like you aren't willing to do it. For those reasons, in the moment, trying to visualize the person who is and ask whether you want that person to have power over your life and your livelihood. If the answer is no, then you need to
consider being part of the solution. I look if we Chase all the good people out of Public Service, then we're going to deserve what we get and it's not going to be pretty. I think we've seen far too many examples that are not hypothetical of people who thrive on these very worst of social media winding up in positions of power over the rest of us. And we've got a reverse that we get a ship that. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm not saying it's it's an easy path But ultimately it's going to be up to the people who choose to be in in
these public role is the character of this country's going to look like And I don't think this is time to accept the way things are going. When you are running for president obviously. And as you said you traveled all around the country, I'm talking to all sorts of people in every corner of this country. Through that exercise. Did it make you more optimistic or a little more pessimistic about who we are as a nation and what our future, what our future is. It maybe not optimistic, in the sense that
you could look somebody in the eye and talk to them about what you cared about and what they cared about and you can reach a common understand. I'm convinced that if we could just all do that in each do that, I would be in a much better place in the country. But of course, it doesn't work that way, but there are a lot of folks in this country who are sucked into some pretty Twisted world, where we can judge them or we can acknowledge that if we were fed the same diet of misinformation that they were, we might be among the rent. And I think since humility is in order to recognize
that people aren't even living in the same reality. And again. That's not an excuse to accept what's going on. It's a call to recognize that the we got to find the humanity and other people on and, and call people to our highest shared value. And we had to establish a more exact based conversation all around, not always. Wagging her finger of people telling them, they don't have the fact, but a by creating literally creating shared spaces, and I mean, literally creating shared spaces. This is part of what transportation and good City design. If you
physically encounter people who are different from you, you are more likely to be accepting an understanding of where they're coming, and we will have that here. That's one of the small community in transportation to expand that Public Square. What you just said there as often when when we when we talked you you go very deep and I'm wondering in the in the shared space between in transportation. It's so we all get together. And I was taken by your saying not wagging, our
finger at at other people. How do you think you can have a conversation with someone for the truth just isn't attainable. Is that even his best dance right in the best answer? I can think of is to make it available to put people in touch with, not just our reality, but there's tons of people who have released, you hear from tons of people who have wild and in disturbing and wrong views about free sample, widespread voter fraud. But you ask those people, whether they've ever seen that happen in their own Precinct. The
answer is usually know. You hear people saying some strange and dangerous, dangerously, non-factual things about covid-19 without their lived experience or anybody, they knew who struggled with that, you have a little bit of reality available. It's one of the reasons why I thought the president was was wise to point to the fact that they might be helpful for conservative political leaders, to talk about why you need vaccine. I would probably make more of a difference here from a doctor, or We're a pastor that they know in their own Community,
look, we know that our grasp grasp on that shared reality is getting more and more tenuous of the ghosts that we do. If somebody really is irreversibly committed to reality than that doesn't make room for others. Or frankly isn't in fact, a reality in the end to your only choice is to make sure that that you out those and in a democracy. That's so that's how our system is supposed to work. Because if a majority comes to be out of touch with reality, that it's too late at night, So who is the secretary? We've got a
little more than three minutes left and I want to give you the time to answer this last question and it comes from Steve Fleming won the TaylorMade to end this conversation but also tailor-made for you in the way you think. And the way you speak and discussion from Steve Fleming is how important is empathy in today's modern world. It's everything. I mean look at everything. Good in terms of what is social and politics Community. Anything that involves multiple people,
anything good comes of our ability to identify with the interests of others, to see another human being, and what matters to them. And their well-being is, is important in some way. Connected r o, Everything bad and Evil 2 to be a little simplistic, but I think through in society and social context Community is when a person looks at another person that doesn't see a person. And the difference between those two things, ultimately, is that the thing and it's a good thing to think of again, maybe especially in as any you like this. Remember how healthy is a
route, which is usually not by data often not by moving to your right? And somebody else was wrong. It's usually aroused through stories through finding ways to see one another through creating shared experience and certainly my own life, that that's how I seen empty built and even something that seems is Teknicolors technological is transportation. They will make better decisions if it's animated, I am 50 and matter fact we're having that conversation just a few days ago, but we're up here in the department, as we were deciding process of defining, some of the values
that are going to guide us during a, during my time here, is it. Everybody has a story, why they're moving. If you're moving in a subway car to get to work, there's a day today and if we can make that experience, a better one more, whole one, even in the smallest way, that makes somebody's life, better it in the way that their journey to work or school is repeated thousands of times over across their lives. When somebody is traveling, a long distance is getting on a plane. Maybe doesn't get on a Plane off. Probably not something that is emotionally
very important in their lives. A huge job opportunity to see somebody they haven't seen in a long time. Maybe grief and loss of a love, these are the things that make us move their, why we need transportation and can't live leaf for filled lies without shared resources to get us from point A to point B across across the world. And if we can come at our choices in transportation policy with that kind of, I think that our policies will be a lot better. And with that, or
going to have to leave it. There Pete buttigieg the 19th Secretary of Transportation. Thank you very much for being here. And thank you very much for coming, back to South by Southwest. Thanks for having a great to be with you.
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