United States Secretary of Transportation

The United States secretary of transportation is the head of the United States Department of Transportation, a member of the president's Cabinet, and fourteenth in the presidential Line of Succession.[2] The post was created with the formation of the Department of Transportation on October 15, 1966, by President Lyndon B. Johnson's signing of the Department of Transportation Act.[3] 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."[3] The secretary of transportation oversees eleven agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.[3] In April 2008, Mary Peters launched the official blog of the secretary of transportation called "The Fast Lane".[4]

United States Secretary of Transportation
Seal of the Department
Flag of the Secretary
Elaine Chao

since January 31, 2017
United States Department of Transportation
StyleMadam Secretary
Member ofCabinet
Reports toPresident of the United States
SeatWashington, D.C.
AppointerThe President
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 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,[3] and Andrew Card is the shortest-serving secretary, serving only eleven months. Neil Goldschmidt was the youngest secretary, taking office at age thirty nine, while Norman Mineta was the oldest, retiring at age seventy four.[5] On January 23, 2009, the sixteenth 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.[6] The salary of the secretary of transportation is $199,700.[7]

Anthony Foxx was the 17th US secretary of transportation from 2013-2017, 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.

List of secretaries of transportation


  Democratic (7)   Republican (11)

No. Image Name 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 A. Volpe Massachusetts January 22, 1969 February 2, 1973 Richard M. Nixon
3 Claude S. Brinegar California February 2, 1973 February 1, 1975
Gerald R. Ford
4 William T. Coleman, Jr. Pennsylvania March 7, 1975 January 20, 1977
5 Brock Adams Washington January 23, 1977 July 20, 1979 Jimmy Carter
6 Neil E. Goldschmidt Oregon August 15, 1979 January 20, 1981
7 Drew Lewis 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 H. 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
14 Norman Y. Mineta California January 25, 2001 August 7, 2006 George W. Bush
15 Mary E. Peters Arizona October 17, 2006 January 20, 2009
16 Ray H. LaHood Illinois January 23, 2009 July 2, 2013 Barack Obama
17 Anthony R. 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 present

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:[8]

  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 December 2019, there are twelve living, former secretaries of transportation (with all secretaries that have served since 1983 still living), the oldest being Alan S. Boyd (served 1967–1969, born 1922). The most recent secretary of transportation to die was William T. Coleman, Jr. (served 1975–1977, born 1920) on March 31, 2017. 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)
Alan S. Boyd 1967–1969 (1922-07-20) July 20, 1922
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


  • "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. Code § 19 - Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act". LII / Legal Information Institute.
  2. "3 U.S.C. § 19 - Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act". Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School. External link in |title= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. 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.
  4. "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.
  5. "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.
  6. "Ray LaHood—Secretary of Transportation". U.S. Department of Transportation. July 22, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  7. "Salary Table No. 2010—Ex". U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
    "5 U.S.C. § 5312 - Positions at level I". Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School. External link in |title= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
  8. 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
Ben Carson
as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Transportation
Succeeded by
Rick Perry
as Secretary of Energy

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