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Urban transport must drive social mobility, says Portland commissioner

On 31 December this year, Dan Saltzman, Commissioner for the Portland Bureau of Transportation, will step down after 25 years on the City Council. Speaking to Jack Aldane, he reflects on the challenges he has helped his city overcome and those that will face his successor
Photo: Portland Children’s Levy

The first thing to note about Portland’s Dan Saltzman is his staying power. Not since the 1960s has the City of Roses thanked a public servant for 25 years’ service. The second thing to note is that this will be his last year as commissioner, and that whoever takes over had better bring fresh ideas with them, because the in-tray in Saltzman’s office will be empty.

Saltzman’s own statement to the local Oregon press revealed that his todo list is fully checked off, a remarkable feat for a man who has spent the last 12 years overseeing several municipal departments. In this time, he has created two new bureaus: the Office of Sustainable Development (2000), and the Children’s Investment Fund, now the Portland Children’s Levy (2009). As a result, mobility means many things to him, not least of all social mobility and the duty cities have to lift up the disenfranchised.

On Mobility as a Service (MaaS), Saltzman talks about Portland’s Vision Zero initiative for sustainable transport–one of his biggest challenges to date, particularly because such projects are tasked with aligning public spirit with execution.

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