Hello, everyone! I’m Anthony Foxx, U.S Secretary of Transportation. Before I head to Las Vegas for CES, I’ll be answering your questions here at Reddit headquarters in San Francisco. Since I joined DOT in 2013, we’ve accomplished some pretty amazing things and kept our eye on the future. We launched a national conversation about the critical challenges facing our country over the next 30 years with the Beyond Traffic report. We’re helping to build America’s first smart city - Columbus, Ohio, the winner of our Smart City Challenge. In September, we issued the world’s first national policy for automated vehicles and our Transportation Toolkit will change how Americans participate in the transportation planning process in their communities.

A couple of fun facts:

1) I’m a huge Yankees fan despite my Southern roots.

2) This Summer, I interviewed my good friend Wynton Marsalis on how the sounds of transportation have inspired his music. Watch it here: https://youtu.be/3zQ7g1KcTVw.

Proof: https://twitter.com/SecretaryFoxx/status/815627167707136000

More Proof: https://i.redd.it/y00p6ytour7y.jpg

Comments: 310 • Responses: 35  • Date: 

johnazoidberg-68 karma

Secretary Foxx, what's the most uninformed thing an elected official has ever asked or suggested to you?

SecretaryFoxx121 karma

Wow! What's your name?

Atomic-Bell32 karma

His name is obviously John...

SecretaryFoxx177 karma

No, that was the most uninformed thing I have ever been asked.

easternexit67 karma

Hi Secretary Foxx. Something that often frustrates mayors is that, even though cities are where much of the economic growth happens, state governments control most transportation funding.

That often translates into more money for rural projects, like wider highways in the middle of nowhere, and less for things, like public transit, that matter in cities.

What can federal policymakers do about this? (And if you have recommendations, do you have any hope that the new administration will follow them?)

SecretaryFoxx63 karma

Our method of funding transportation needs a fundamental redesign and that will be politically hard to do. I do not believe states are the only, most effective pathway for dollars to flow. We have put together a framework for pushing more $$ to local and regional communities. I also think the planning process is flawed when we have economic regions splintered into separate MPOs that do not work well together on planning. Planning is different than coordinating, which is what most do. The question is how do regions improve their economies through transportation. Having said that, this should never boil down to an urban versus rural thing. Our approach has to be flexible enough to help all types of communities thrive, and right now it is fairly rigid.

ScottyUrb48 karma

How soon do you think we'll have more high-speed trains in the US (besides Acela)? I recently traveled between South Bend, IN, and Washington, DC, on Amtrak - a nearly 17-hour trek each way.

SecretaryFoxx58 karma

One of the biggest opportunities for rural America is an end to end commuter rail and intercity passenger rail system. Amtrak has some great leadership and is building capacity to take on a bolder vision. They will need help from Congress and the American public to do so.

Baldemoto42 karma

Secretary Foxx, Cars have slowly taken over modern city lives to the point where our entire cities are built around them. We prioritize cars above people in our cities, and in turn businesses and events and protests are not easily achievable in this space. Pollution is also a big problem in our cities.

With cars taking over city streets and us giving insane amounts of space for cars and traveling instead of giving space for communities, events and small businesses, have you ever considered strategies for letting communities and businesses flourish in cities and gradually decreasing the influence of cars in streets with things such as Superblocks? And if so, how have plans like these been received?

SecretaryFoxx42 karma

Folks have tried lots of strategies, including shutting down traffic in cities. Really, I think we have to let individual choice prevail here and, at the local level through zoning and other means, put the incentive structure around making as many choices as possible neutral -- in terms of travel time, in terms of convenience.

Cubs31140 karma

If someone wants to pursue a career of public service in an advisory role such as the one you held, without all the politics of, well, being a politician, what advice would you give to start someone down that career path?

SecretaryFoxx47 karma

Great question. There are multiple ways to get involved on advisory committees. The easiest and most accessible is within your local government. Often local elected officials appoint folks to boards. I know because I was once a local elected official. I would start there.

pdxscout34 karma

As the man in charge of transportation, have you figured out why a lot of people are so anti-bicycle? I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it.

SecretaryFoxx47 karma

Yeah, I think there is more support for bicycling as a mode of transportation than there was 10 years ago. Look at all of the bike share programs cropping up around the country. What is still a challenge is the relationship between the car and the bicyclist, and that is a matter of education on both sides and I also think technology will play a role in helping us get to a better place.

pussgurka28 karma

What are some of your ideas to improve transportation access which disproportionately affects people living in poverty and communities of color? Also, what are your thoughts on environmental justice in the United States in general?

SecretaryFoxx31 karma

One of the biggest unstated issues is the extent to which lack of transportation access and lack of imagination about how improving that access can help people get to a better school, housing, jobs or whatever. Sometimes transportation assets can even improve a neighborhood and bring those things closer to home. Check out our work on Ladders of Opportunity where we have been pioneering.

Jokerang18 karma

What advice would you give to your successor in the future Trump administration?

SecretaryFoxx26 karma

I don't give this kind of advice really because the new Secretary will have his or her own ideas. BUT...we need a whole lot of new and improved infrastructure, we need more of a demand driven approach to funding, we need to diversify our state boards of transportation to ensure folks are being heard, we need to keep the work on new technologies in transportation going.... There's plenty to do!!!!

x_Erock_x16 karma

Hi Secretary Foxx, I'm a traffic engineer who does work for all levels of government, and the biggest question for all projects is always funding. Congress can't provide transportation funding for more than two years, and they seem to use it as a political tool. What is your role in securing federal transportation funding, and what can we expect in the future in terms of funding to improve our transportation infrastructure?

SecretaryFoxx25 karma

Under our Constitution, Congress holds the purse strings. The federal government cannot raise or spend money without their permission. We worked really hard to make a case for the most recent transportation bill, which passed in 2015. But the needs are outstripping our ability to raise revenue. I remain hopeful that the country will keep pushing to build a 21st Century infrastructure.

everywhere_anyhow14 karma

Secretary Foxx,

It seems like in the US we're trying to scale up this whole "everybody owns a car, and we keep building more highways" thing, and it doesn't seem to be working out. Suburban sprawl, higher population, climate concerns, pollution, gas prices, and all of the rest of the issues make it seem like this kind of way of growing our transportation system just isn't going to work.

But we also know that this is a really cultural issue for Americans, and we love our cars. How do you lure people into trying different modes of development and transportation, without making people feel like the freedom of the open road is being taken from them?

SecretaryFoxx20 karma

Give them choices. That's one of my big mantras. Not forced choice -- although a doubling of one's commute might feel that way. If the choices are not available, people won't know they have them.

Sammylikesthings14 karma

How often do you meet with the president?

SecretaryFoxx17 karma

I am over at the White House all of the time. The President has been great on infrastructure and loves to know about what we're doing.

LeTronique12 karma

As a young black kid from Charlotte, did you ever see yourself becoming, not only Mayor of your home city, but the Secretary of Transportation when you grew older?

SecretaryFoxx18 karma

No, I didn't. I just wanted to impact other people the same way I saw other folks like Julius Chambers, Mel Watt, Harvey Gantt and other impact others. I have had a good run but it's time for old dog to move on. Where? Who knows....

inshane10 karma

L.A. resident here. Our city just approved the expansion of our subway system, due to acquiring federal funds. It's only being extended 9 miles, but it is expected to take over 10 years. Is a shortage of labor the primary reason for how long it takes?

SecretaryFoxx22 karma

No, usually segments are built in phases due to lots of factors: funding constraints, etc. Congrats though on Measure R -- a really big deal.

ScipioA10 karma

Any thoughts on how to keep transportation justice and environmental justice moving forwards during the new administration?

Working in our towns and states to right past wrongs and ensure that the future of transportation is just is a great option. But a lot of people I talk to are worried that regressive policies raining down from the federal level will reverse some of the recent progress you helped bring to DC and make state and local progress difficult.

SecretaryFoxx10 karma

Great question. Ultimately, these issues are about balancing interests within a given community. It's about who we elect to serve us and whether they have a broad view of the community. It is about communities being active voices for their own interests. It is also about the federal government sometimes having the courage to intervene if something is being done improperly. I would point you to our tool kit for communities on the usdot website. dot.gov

Wyodaniel8 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA; I'm really excited to see that you've already brought up the subject of autonomous cars.

My question is: What is your view on the moral "trolley problem" as it pertains to autonomous cars? As these self-driving cars become more and more prevalent, to what extent will government regulation take control of this issue?

SecretaryFoxx17 karma

Autonomous vehicles introduce a number of thorny problems that will need to be thought about, including this one. It's one of the reasons I have put together an advisory committee on automation to look at questions like this. We'll announce the group soon. Bottom line, we make these types of decisions today and our criminal and civil liability laws help to inform how we approach those risks. With software driving cars, we have an opportunity to approach such questions thoughtfully and I think we need to create a space to pose and answer those questions as we are doing.

jonfreebob8 karma

What would be your dream public transportation project?

SecretaryFoxx29 karma

I really think high speed rail could be a game-changer, perhaps even one of the interesting new technologies like Hyperloop or perhaps a cool collaboration between ride-sharing and public transit. Lots of opportunities out there -- and many of them will help rural and urban America.

ShoeEaterThe2nd8 karma

Why do you have two x's in your surname? Were you originally called Fox and you thought one x wasn't enough, or did you have two right from the start?

SecretaryFoxx25 karma

I have always had two x's in my name. But that was not true three generations ago in my family. Don't know the full story. But how someone goes from Eric Bishop to Jamie Foxx, I don't know. Ha, ha, just joking Jamie. Please don't cut off my inheritance.

gamergeek4157 karma

Secretary Foxx, In 2015 you were the cabinet member to not attend the State of the Union, in case of an attack on the event. You were possibly going to be the last standing government official if something went terribly wrong. Was this scary for you? How did this feel? Did you feel you were prepared to become POTUS? Lastly, how were you chosen for this role?

SecretaryFoxx14 karma

Look, there is very little I can say about this without violating international security but the popsicles were great. Just kidding... It was pretty humbling but I am very glad President and Mrs. Obama made it home that night.

Earthboom7 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA Secretary Foxx!

I was wondering if you could enlighten me on why public transportation, and the infrastructure in place to transport, are entirely disproportionate in every corner of this country.

Take for example the East Coast. In Pennsylvania, from what I understand, if all the road work gets done the budget for next year will be less. So what happens is very slow progress on highways and streets that desperately need maintenance and complete overhaul in some cases. A lot of our highways are stuck in the 1960s, small two lane highways that don't support the population explosion that we've seen thanks to the major cities.

On top of that, if you don't live near a major city you can forget about not having a car. Even then, in the major cities you can expect an hour commute for your 25 minute by car travel time.

So our streets are in need of work, our public transport is wanting, and that's not taking into consideration the rest of this country. Trains should be everywhere to better ease the flow of people into places that are in desperate need of industry.

Our state might be an issue of how it's governed, and if so, is that the problem in this country? Does the federal government not have enough sway when it comes to dictating how highways should be built, maintained, enhanced and is there a funding problem when it comes to why our train system is entirely lacking as soon as you leave the east?

TL;DR: what the problem is, fam? Leader of the free world, until you hop on a rusty creaky unsafe bridge and sit there for 2 hours because it's only a two lane highway.

SecretaryFoxx16 karma

Basically, there is not enough money to go around. The money we do spend is programmed for certain things like roads or transit or whatever. We need a more flexible, demand driven model -- and one that doesn't force choices between urban, suburban, rural interests.

ryan_meets_wall6 karma

If money was not an issue, what would you improve?

SecretaryFoxx9 karma

I'd ensure a variety of transportation choices in fast-growing areas and unclog the system. It would really help everyone, including rural America.

Jessevr1086 karma

Secretary Foxx, What do you enjoy the most at your job?

SecretaryFoxx15 karma

Seeing stuff happen. I just went to the opening of the Second Avenue Station in NYC -- 100 years in the making. Would love to shrink that delivery time and have been working to do so.

LeTronique5 karma

So, what's the plan after you leave the USDOT?

SecretaryFoxx13 karma

I am doing pick ups and drop offs for a little while.

Zendakin_at_work5 karma

Why don't the N.Y. Yankees have a website?

SecretaryFoxx15 karma

Well, to be honest, the Carolina Panthers have one, and it really didn't help us this season.

RKO364 karma

When do you think the new North (Hudson) River tunnels will begin construction?

SecretaryFoxx5 karma

The single biggest infrastructure project in our country once undertaken. We have done everything we can to position the project for construction -- putting the project on accelerated permitting schedules, putting it in our new emerging projects program for innovative financing and supporting early design work. The local leaders will have to keep pushing themselves to advance things. We clearly don't have a 100 years to wait so we are doing all we can.

Wuhfel4 karma

In terms of spending, do you approve of Trump's proposed Infrastructure budget?

SecretaryFoxx18 karma

Haven't seen it yet. Look, a big package sounds good but the devil is always in the details.

Chtorrr3 karma

What is your favorite cheese?

SecretaryFoxx21 karma

Cheddar, man. Cheddar.

Yvesdorsey13 karma

Secretary Foxx, Whatever happened to the 2017 V2V goal for the Obama Administration? Is that still going to happen? Highly important issue.

SecretaryFoxx9 karma

Agreed. We actually met the deadline and put it out for public comment a few weeks ago.

LivingInTheVoid3 karma

It's known that the Ford Motor Company bought out the LA rail system back in the early 20th century, dismantaling a great public system so it can sell cars.

With the DOT ever stand up to the big corporations and their greed for profit and implement better public transportation?

SecretaryFoxx10 karma

I have been making a strong case for a multimodal transportation system -- autos, trains, buses, walking, biking, air, all of it. Right now, we put our finger on the scale and program money according to each program. It would be smarter to offer more flexibility and tie that flexibility to certain outcomes. We pushed legislation to do some of this.

foxfact3 karma

How did you find yourself interested in government and do you have any advice for students (like myself) who want to get involved in government and civics once they graduate?

SecretaryFoxx6 karma

I got interested in problems first. Why does our society struggle with certain things, and is there something I can do to help? Where I think I could have helped, I have tried to. It's really bigger than government. Now, could I problem solve in a different arena? Probably so. That's what the next chapter of my life will seek to answer. But I would figure out what you care about and then think about whether government is the best place to work on that, and if so, you are already more than halfway there.


What is your favorite color?

SecretaryFoxx7 karma

Red but not the orangey version, more like a cardinal red like Davidson (yo - Steph Curry, you hearing me?)

ArseKraken2 karma

When are you going to fix some bridges dude?

SecretaryFoxx14 karma

Man, didn't you see me outside this morning in my orange jacket? No, seriously, I don't think you'll find someone who has worked harder over these past few years to push for more resources to fix our broken system. We finally got a bill passed and signed by President Obama on December 4, 2015. It will take a little while for folks to feel the effects of this bill but it will happen. It's just not big enough to fix every problem we have.

d_extrum2 karma

Do you drink Coffe? If yes how much a day/week :)

SecretaryFoxx5 karma

I am more of a tea person but occasionally coffee. I drink lots of Diet Coke but my daughter is telling me to drink more water.

CornCobbDouglas2 karma

Dont worry, diet soda is like 99% water.

SecretaryFoxx2 karma

Ha ha. Good point!

Grumpy_Shat1 karma

What are your thoughts on oatmeal cookies?

SecretaryFoxx3 karma

There is only one real cookie in my mind, and it is a chocolate chip cookie. All others pale in comparison. Plus, really, you want cooked raisins for dessert? C'mon man.