The Struggling Airline Business
This year the airlines imposed a host of new fees on travelers, relying on their customers to help them survive high oil prices. Though oil prices are down, the carriers have not removed the fees for everything from a second checked bag to a soda in flight. In the face of a struggling airline business, mergers are expected to be less likely in an Obama administration than they were under Bush. Obama has also said he will limit foreign ownership of U.S. airlines, a move labor groups fear could mean a loss of jobs.
Fuel Efficient Vehicles
With consumers shifting to smaller cars and trying to cut spending in the tight economy, making cars and trucks more fuel efficient is also expected to remain a top priority in the years ahead. For passenger cars, Peters has proposed increasing required fuel economy standards to 35.7 miles per gallon by 2015. For light trucks, DOT has proposed increasing fuel economy to 28.6 miles per gallon in the same period. Peters has also proposed incentives for companies that go above and beyond the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, known as CAFE standards. Obama has said it is one of his goals to put 1 million plug-in hybrid vehicles on road by 2015.
FAA's Airline Inspections
The agency that oversees the airlines came under fire this year when maintenance lapses at Southwest Airlines sparked a series of questions about how the FAA inspects the airlines to ensure they're safe for travelers. Ensuring the FAA does not get too cozy with the industry it regulates will continue to be a challenge for the next administration.
Congestion in the Skies
To reduce congestion in air travel, the Department of Transportation has plans to auction slots at New York-area airports, a hub where many of the country's delays originate. The plan for a slot auction is likely to face tough challenges under an Obama administration. The Bush administration has also pushed congestion pricing, a model through which people pay more to travel during peak hours to try to discourage travel during the busiest times.
Number of DOT Positions for Political Appointees
There are 105 political positions up for grabs at the Department of Transportation, 10 of which are at the FAA. Of the 10 political positions at the FAA, the top two are the FAA administrator and the deputy administrator.
At NHTSA, there are five political appointees, including the administrator, the deputy administrator, head of government affairs, head public affairs, and chief counsel.
ABC News' Sunlen Miller and George Stephanopoulos contributed to this report.