NACTO 2012: Leading City DOT Commissioners Talk Transportation Politics

“To me, the single most fascinating element of politics is the alchemy by which something becomes an issue,” said Chris Hayes, MSNBC host and moderator of the commissioners’ panel on the politics of transportation at the October NACTO Designing Cities conference.

The panel, captured in its entirety by Streetfilms, featured NYC DOT’s Janette Sadik-Khan, Chicago DOT chief Gabe Klein, San Francisco MTA director Ed Reiskin, Boston transportation commissioner Tom Tinlin, and Philadelphia deputy mayor of transportation Rina Cutler.

To get things rolling, here’s Hayes, a lifelong New Yorker and self-described bike-riding partisan:

At the most micro level, transportation is incredibly political … But at a broader level it’s completely absent from our national political conversation. And this is bizarre.

Select highlights from the 53-minute panel after the jump.

  • 09:00 – Reiskin: We need to make public transit accessible, reliable and enjoyable
  • 11:30 – Klein talks about young people and transportation’s vitality to a city
  • 15:14 – Cutler: “Money matters.”
  • 17:23 – Tinlin: “Mayor Menino has said, ‘The car is no longer king in Boston.’”
  • 23:50 – Klein talks gas prices in Netherlands vs. U.S. and transportation infrastructure
  • 31:03 – Sadik-Khan: We need to find partners in creating public spaces in NYC
  • 33:30 – Hayes refers to cars as “speeding machines of death”
  • 36:56 – Sadik-Khan: “Two-thirds of New Yorkers get around without a car, less than half own a car.”
  • 48:21 – Hayes asks the panel about public criticism from the media and advice for future commissioners