Business owners in the transportation space have a formidable ally: the US government.
This is the message delivered by US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg during an address at CES 2022 on Thursday. Speaking on a big screen showing a pre-recorded segment to a live audience, Buttigieg vowed that the federal government would lead the way for innovation in the transportation sector and help companies bring their technology and services to market safely. in the years to come.
Buttigieg cited as examples a $ 7.5 billion investment to build networks of electric vehicle charging stations that will include rural and underserved areas, and $ 66 billion for environmentally friendly railways.
“We live in an age where innovation is redefining the way people and goods move to where they need to be,” Buttigieg said. “We need to proactively plan to support the growth of new ideas and to make sure Americans share the benefits.” He said the DoT will soon launch a new streamlined process to engage with the private sector to identify industry challenges and potential solutions.
While Buttigieg acknowledged that the words “government” and “innovation” do not usually go hand in hand, he pointed out that many of today’s greatest innovations are based on technology the government invented or helped develop. , from GPS to touch screens to the Internet itself. . And also noted that some of today’s most successful tech companies – he verified the names of Tesla, Google, and Apple – received government grants early in their growth.
When it comes to transport companies in particular, Buttigieg said the government will support technologies that can move the industry forward. “The government did not invent the plane, the train or the automobile,” he said. “But the government has built airports, laid runways and built highways.”
The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said he believes the transportation industry is on the cusp of a variety of groundbreaking innovations, from electric vehicles and bullet trains to roads absorbing carbon dioxide. He noted that the government has an interest in these types of technologies being successful for the good of the country.
“[The government] complements what companies do best, “he said,” which develops great ideas and brings them to market efficiently and profitably. “
Buttigieg said he believes the recently passed $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better limbo plan will both help boost green transportation technologies. The $ 7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations and the $ 66 billion for railway funding are included in the infrastructure bill, which was passed. The Build Back Better plan, which is still the subject of debate in Congress, would offer incentives such as solar subsidies and tax breaks of up to $ 12,500 for the purchase of electric vehicles.
Buttigieg added that the Transport Department will work with the private sector to establish safeguards around new technologies and ensure their safety. Last year, for example, the DoT began requiring automakers and operators to provide reports for all accidents involving autonomous vehicles.
The secretary insisted that measures like these are not meant to stifle growth. If done correctly, he argued, they will have the opposite effect. “Ultimately, they help industries thrive,” Buttigieg said, “creating more certainty and confidence that someone can count on a very high level of security when deciding whether to take a job. on the train, buy a plane ticket or buy a car. . “