GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With the focus for the past two months being about public health and trying to control a pandemic — a lot of areas of the economy have been negatively impacted and will need help to reboot as the country begins to reopen.
One such area will be transportation.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told News 8 she is keenly aware of some of the needs as the country starts to emerge from the stay at home orders bit by bit.
The airline industry has been hard hit with major reductions in flights and impending new “clean” protocols that it will be facing when more flights resume. Chao says her department will help those companies navigate the new realities.
From airlines to mass transit to cargo being shipped overland, Chao says the administration is trying to keep the transportation system moving.
She says one issue her department has addressed is truck drivers and those with commercial driver’s licenses and concerns with licensing while the Secretary of State’s office is closed.
“Truck drivers are on the job and we are doing everything we can to provide regulatory relief, common sense relief that will give them greater flexibility, “ she said. “The things that are being discussed, renewal of drivers license. Well, that can’t happen because so many state DMVs are closed so we are giving temporary waivers for those whose driver’s licenses are in danger of expiring we have given a temporary waiver until June 30 and that includes training of all kinds. For transporting hazardous materials, that training has to occur every three years. Well, this is not obviously a good time for that to occur, so we have given temporary waivers. We’ve also given temporary waivers for people with learners permits.”
She said the department has taken these actions in an attempt to keep truckers working and the supply chain open during the pandemic.
Chao said overall, the goal is to keep the transportation system open, operational and safe.