United States Secretary of Transportation

The United States secretary of transportation is the head of the United States Department of Transportation. The secretary serves as the principal advisor to the president of the United States on all matters relating to transportation. The secretary is a statutory member of the Cabinet of the United States, and is fourteenth in the presidential line of succession.[1]

United States Secretary of Transportation
Seal of the Department of Transportation
Flag of the Secretary of Transportation
Pete Buttigieg

since February 3, 2021
United States Department of Transportation
StyleMr. Secretary
The Honorable
Member ofCabinet
Reports toPresident of the United States
SeatWashington, D.C.
AppointerPresident of the United States
with Senate advice and consent
Term lengthNo fixed term
Constituting instrument49 U.S.C. § 102
FormationOctober 15, 1966 (1966-10-15)
First holderAlan Stephenson Boyd
DeputyDeputy Secretary of Transportation
SalaryExecutive Schedule, Level I

The secretary of transportation oversees the U.S. Department of Transportation, which has over 55,000 employees and thirteen agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.[2] As of January 2021, the secretary receives an annual salary of $221,400.[3][4]

Pete Buttigieg has served as the secretary of transportation since February 3, 2021. He was confirmed by the United States Senate by a vote of 86–13 on February 2, 2021.[5] Buttigieg is the first openly LGBT person to hold the position, the first openly gay Cabinet secretary and the youngest person to serve as Secretary of Transportation.[6]


The post was created on October 15, 1966 by the Department of Transportation Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.[2] The department's mission is "to develop and coordinate policies that will provide an efficient and economical national transportation system, with due regard for need, the environment, and the national defense."[2]

The first secretary of transportation was Alan Stephenson Boyd, nominated to the post by Democratic president Lyndon B. Johnson. Ronald Reagan's second secretary of transportation, Elizabeth Dole, was the first female holder, and Mary Peters was the second. Gerald Ford's nominee William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr. was the first African American to serve as transportation secretary, and Federico Peña, serving under Bill Clinton, was the first Hispanic to hold the position, subsequently becoming the secretary of energy. Japanese-American Norman Mineta, who had previously been the secretary of commerce, is the longest-serving secretary, holding the post for over five and a half years,[2] and Andrew Card is the shortest-serving secretary, serving only eleven months. Neil Goldschmidt was the youngest secretary, taking office at age 39, while Norman Mineta was the oldest, retiring at age 74.[7] In April 2008, Mary Peters launched the official blog of the secretary of transportation called "The Fast Lane".[8] On January 23, 2009, the 16th secretary Ray LaHood took office, serving under the administration of Democrat Barack Obama; he had previously been a Republican Congressman from Illinois for fourteen years.[9]

Anthony Foxx was the 17th US secretary of transportation from 2013 to 2017, when Barack Obama was the president. Elaine Chao, who served as the secretary of labor under President George W. Bush, was nominated by Donald Trump on November 29, 2016. On January 31, 2017, the Senate confirmed her appointment by a vote of 93–6. On January 7, 2021, Chao announced her resignation following the Capitol storming, effective January 11.[10] On January 11, 2021, acting Deputy Secretary of Transportation Steven G. Bradbury became acting Secretary of Transportation.

List of secretaries of transportation


  Democratic (8)   Republican (11)


  Denotes acting Secretary of Transportation

No. Portrait Secretary State of residence Took office Left office President
serving under
1 Alan S. Boyd Florida January 16, 1967 January 20, 1969 Lyndon B. Johnson
2 John Volpe Massachusetts January 22, 1969 February 2, 1973 Richard Nixon
3 Claude Brinegar California February 2, 1973 February 1, 1975
Gerald R. Ford
4 William Thaddeus Coleman Jr. Pennsylvania March 7, 1975 January 20, 1977
5 Brock Adams Washington January 23, 1977 July 20, 1979 Jimmy Carter
6 Neil Goldschmidt Oregon August 15, 1979 January 20, 1981
7 Andrew L. Lewis Jr. Pennsylvania January 23, 1981 February 1, 1983 Ronald Reagan
8 Elizabeth H. Dole Kansas February 7, 1983 September 30, 1987
9 James H. Burnley IV North Carolina December 3, 1987 January 20, 1989
10 Samuel K. Skinner Illinois February 6, 1989 December 13, 1991 George H. W. Bush
11 Andrew Card Massachusetts February 24, 1992 January 20, 1993
12 Federico Peña Colorado January 21, 1993 February 14, 1997 Bill Clinton
13 Rodney E. Slater Arkansas February 14, 1997 January 20, 2001

Mortimer L. Downey


Virginia January 20, 2001 January 25, 2001 George W. Bush
14 Norman Mineta California January 25, 2001 August 7, 2006

Maria Cino


New York August 7, 2006 October 17, 2006
15 Mary Peters Arizona October 17, 2006 January 20, 2009
16 Ray LaHood Illinois January 23, 2009 July 2, 2013 Barack Obama
17 Anthony Foxx North Carolina July 2, 2013 January 20, 2017
Michael Huerta
California January 20, 2017 January 31, 2017 Donald Trump
18 Elaine Chao Kentucky January 31, 2017 January 11, 2021
Steven G. Bradbury
Oregon January 12, 2021 January 20, 2021
Lana Hurdle
Virginia January 20, 2021 February 3, 2021 Joe Biden
19 Pete Buttigieg Indiana February 3, 2021 Incumbent

Line of succession

The line of succession regarding who would act as Secretary of Transportation in the event of a vacancy or incapacitation is as follows:[11]

  1. Deputy Secretary of Transportation
  2. Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy
  3. General Counsel
  4. Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs
  5. Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy
  6. Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs
  7. Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs
  8. Assistant Secretary for Administration
  9. Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration
  10. Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration
  11. Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
  12. Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration
  13. Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration
  14. Administrator of the Maritime Administration
  15. Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
  16. Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  17. Administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration
  18. Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation
  19. Regional Administrator, Southern Region, Federal Aviation Administration
  20. Director, Resource Center, Lakewood, Colorado, Federal Highway Administration
  21. Regional Administrator, Northwest Mountain Region, Federal Aviation Administration

Living former secretaries of transportation

As of July 2021, there are twelve living former secretaries of transportation (with all secretaries that have served since 1983 still living), the oldest being Norman Mineta (served 2001–2006, born 1931). The most recent secretary of transportation to die was Alan S. Boyd (served 1967–1969, born 1922) on October 18, 2020. The most recently serving secretary of transportation to die was Andrew L. Lewis (served 1981–1983, born 1931), who died on February 10, 2016.

Name Term Date of birth (and age)
Neil Goldschmidt 1979–1981 (1940-06-16) June 16, 1940
Elizabeth H. Dole 1983–1987 (1936-07-29) July 29, 1936
James H. Burnley IV 1987–1989 (1948-07-30) July 30, 1948
Samuel K. Skinner 1989–1991 (1938-06-10) June 10, 1938
Andrew Card 1992–1993 (1947-05-10) May 10, 1947
Federico Peña 1993–1997 (1947-03-15) March 15, 1947
Rodney E. Slater 1997–2001 (1955-02-23) February 23, 1955
Norman Mineta 2001–2006 (1931-11-12) November 12, 1931
Mary Peters 2006–2009 (1948-12-04) December 4, 1948
Ray LaHood 2009–2013 (1945-12-06) December 6, 1945
Anthony Foxx 2013–2017 (1971-04-30) April 30, 1971
Elaine Chao 2017–2021 (1953-03-26) March 26, 1953


  • "Biographical Sketches of the Secretaries of Transportation". U.S. Department of Transportation. August 14, 2009. Archived from the original on March 16, 2011. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  1. 3 U.S.C. § 19: Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act.
  2. Grinder, R. Dale. "The United States Department of Transportation: A Brief History". U.S. Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on July 17, 2004. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  3. "Salary Table No. 2021-EX Rates of Basic Pay for the Executive Schedule (EX)" (PDF).
  4. 5 U.S.C. § 5312: Positions at level I.
  5. O'Connell, Oliver (February 2, 2021). "Pete Buttigieg becomes first openly gay cabinet member after historic Senate vote". The Independent. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  6. Shear, Michael D.; Kaplan, Thomas (December 16, 2020). "Buttigieg Recalls Discrimination Against Gay People, as Biden Celebrates Cabinet's Diversity". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 24, 2021.
  7. "Biographical Sketches of the Secretaries of Transportation". U.S. Department of Transportation. August 14, 2009. Archived from the original on March 16, 2011. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  8. "A Chronology of Dates Significant in the Background, History and Development of the Department of Transportation". U.S. Department of Transportation. August 14, 2009. Archived from the original on February 15, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  9. "Ray LaHood—Secretary of Transportation". U.S. Department of Transportation. July 22, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  10. Kaitlan Collins, Jeremy Diamond, Kevin Liptak and Kate Bennett. "Second Cabinet member announces resignation over Trump's response to riot". CNN.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. Obama, Barack (January 14, 2009). "Executive Order 13485: Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Transportation". NASA Online Directives Information System. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Marcia Fudge
as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Order of precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Transportation
Succeeded by
Jennifer Granholm
as Secretary of Energy
U.S. presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Marcia Fudge
14th in line Succeeded by
Secretary of Energy
Jennifer Granholm

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