L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Wight Talks the Role of Transportation in a Post-COVID Virginia

June 23, 2021

By Briana Williams

The most recent virtual Wilder School Alumni Lunch and Learn featured Amy Wight, Virginia’s assistant secretary of transportation on June 16. Wight’s presentation was entitled “On the Move: Vacations, Work, School — The Role of Transportation in a Post-COVID Virginia” and highlighted transportation challenges faced due to the pandemic and the steps taken to get Virginians back on track.

Amy Wight was appointed assistant secretary of transportation by Gov. Ralph Northam in July 2018 where, focusing on communications and policy, she supports a safe, reliable, multi-modal transportation system that is the platform for Virginia’s economy.

“From the port, to rail to transit, there was a real commitment to protect the health and safety of our workforce, our customers, and the traveling public service to deliver service and to manage the financial uncertainty of the times,” Wight said. “Over the past year, the commonwealth has used its transportation assets for the benefit of the nation, ensuring essential supplies and goods got to where they were needed quickly and safely through the Port of Virginia’s Critical Cargo Initiative.”

Wight emphasized the critical role that essential workers played to keep transportation moving throughout the pandemic.

“We are now emerging from this remarkable time with an appreciation for the resiliency and character of the essential workers within the transportation sector, which really serves as the platform for Virginia’s economy,” said Wight. “Throughout the pandemic, the work that they have done, these frontline transportation workers, to support that platform and multimodal travel choices has been critical to keeping people and the economy moving.”

Wight explained how the Omnibus Transportation Bill transformed transportation funding by creating the commonwealth transportation fund, a value statement that we in Virginia are committed to creating a truly multi-modal transportation system.

One of the key provisions of the bill was the transit ridership incentive program, designed to improve regional transit service and reduce barriers to transit access.

“Equitable access to transportation is critical. Public transportation has to be available for people who need food, medicine, and to get to their jobs,” said Wight. “This program reflects our commitment to continuing to focus on making sure our transportation network is accessible to all Virginians. “

Xueming “Jimmy” Chen, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the urban and regional studies and planning program, served as the session moderator, and Robyn McDougle, Ph.D.,  associate dean of research and outreach, provided opening remarks. You can watch the Lunch and Learn recording where Wight expounds on the future of transportation in Virginia on the Wilder School’s YouTube channel.