Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who also served as Charlotte’s mayor, has a new job as chief policy officer at ride-hailing company Lyft, the company said Tuesday.
Lyft is the second major ride-hailing company, after Uber. The companies allow riders to summon drivers in their personal vehicles via a smartphone app, tracked by GPS, and to pay for their ride without using cash or pulling out a credit card.
Foxx, who will also be senior adviser to Lyft’s president and CEO, cited his childhood in Charlotte as key to why he wants this new role in the transportation sector.
“Growing up in Charlotte, I rode with my grandparents on weekend trips to the grocery store,” Foxx wrote in a Medium post. He grew up in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood, near uptown. “We routinely passed by the stores closest to us because they offered moldy meats and seafood. These stores would never have attempted to open in more well-to-do parts of my hometown.”
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Foxx wrote that while his family was lucky to have a car, it was also a cost burden and they didn’t often fill the gas tank all the way. Companies like Lyft could change that, Foxx wrote.
“How much more discretionary money might my family have had if we never owned a car — if there had been a way to pay for the trips they needed instead of the car itself?” he wrote.
Foxx was elected Charlotte mayor in 2009 and 2011, and served as U.S. Transportation Secretary under President Barack Obama. He championed projects such as the LYNX Gold Line streetcar in Charlotte, which Foxx touted as an enhancement to economic mobility by giving people ways to connect to jobs and schools.
For Foxx, Lyft is the second new job in a year. In December, he was announced as a managing director at New York-based mega-developer Related Companies. Foxx was hired to lead a new infrastructure division for the company, which raised a fund of hundreds of millions of dollars to invest.
In January, Foxx joined the advisory board of Autotech Ventures, a California-based venture fund that has invested in transportation companies, including Lyft.
Lyft — along with other ride-hailing companies such as Uber and dockless bikesharing and scooter firms like Lime — faces a fast-changing regulatory environment, as technology outpaces rules. The companies have clashed with cities when they’ve started service, because their business model often conflicts with existing laws regulating taxi companies.
And with Uber, Lyft and others planning to bring self-driving cars to streets across the U.S. over the next few years, they’re sure to face even more regulatory questions.
“If we’re not careful, sheer population growth and slow adaptation of technologies that might otherwise relieve congestion, create more connections and increase economic access will limit our potential as a nation,” wrote Foxx.