Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg suggested that transitioning to a “monthly transportation payment” from monthly car payments could be in America’s future.
Buttigieg also said a “monthly mobility dividend” could lie further out in the future.
“What I mean by that is if we’re looking way out into the future, where we have things like, let’s imagine distributed energy generation where you have resources at your house, whether it’s a dramatically more efficient, even solar panels and wind resources,” Buttigieg said Wednesday at an event hosted by the liberal think tank New America.
“From your home, you can put more into the transportation system than you get out of it through things like energy, so that you would participate in creating so much value that you’d actually get a net dividend on it, instead of paying into it on a net basis,” he added. “Now, that’s pretty far out.”
A “more intermediate goal” in the U.S. would be transitioning from monthly car payments to a “monthly transportation payment that’s quite a bit less than a car payment that covers everything,” said Buttigieg, a Democratic presidential candidate in 2020.
“We’re actually seeing certain glimmers of this now,” he said. “So some of the rideshare companies, for example, are starting to look at mobility as a service where you have some kind of interface, and it’s neutral on whether you’re on one of their bikes, or in one of their rideshare things or just on public transit, or some combination thereof, or it even leads to a train ticket or something.
“All you do is you tell your smartphone, you know, ‘Hey Siri, book me from the street corner I’m standing at to my cousin’s house in Louisville,’ and then Siri figures it out, and you pay once, and it may or may not be a single seat ride, but off you go. That’s a vision, I think, that’s well within our lifetimes, if not within our grasp.”
Buttigieg was asked if he thinks the monthly transportation payment might be able to “get us to the stars” one day — a reference to space travel. “Eventually, I don’t see why not,” he replied.
According to a DOT spokesperson, Buttigieg was brainstorming ideas for the future of transportation policy and his remarks about a monthly transportation payment do not reflect a concrete DOT policy that is in the works.