21st Century Transportation

Efficient public transportation like intercity rail and clean bus systems make our transportation system better for everyone by reducing traffic congestion and pollution, and increasing our options for getting around.

Moving North Carolina Forward

Changing Transportation: U.S. PIRG's series of reports on the dramatic changes underway in how Americans travel.

In the 20th century, Americans fell in love with the car. Driving a car became a rite of passage. Owning a car became a symbol of American freedom and mobility. And so we invested in a network of interstate highways that facilitated travel and connected the nation.

Now we're in a new century, with new challenges and new transportation needs. We still love our cars, but we also know they harm the environment around us. Americans want choices for getting to work, school, shopping and more. As lifestyles change, Americans — especially the Millennial generation — are changing their driving and transportation preferences.

We need a transportation system that reflects this century.

Consider:

Public transportation ridership nationwide is hitting record highs. This trend is greatest among younger Americans — who will be the biggest users of the infrastructure we build today. Since the 1950s — despite knowing that buses and rail use far less energy and space — we have spent nine times more on highway projects than on public transportation.

In 2015, more than half of Americans — and nearly two-thirds of Millennials, the country’s largest generation — want to live “in a place where they do not need to use a car very often.” Similar trends exist for older adults. Older adults in general put the creation of pedestrian-friendly streets and local investment in public transportation in their top five priorities for their communities.

By reducing traffic and pollution, and increasing our options for getting around, efficient public transportation systems like intercity rail and clean bus systems would make America’s transportation future better for everyone.

But America also needs to repair and maintain its current aging infrastructure. Nearly 59,000 of the nation’s bridges are classified as “structurally deficient.” Instead of building newer and wider highways that will only make America more dependent on dirty fossil fuels, we need to be smart in how we invest in roads, and fix them first.

The good news is that the public is in many ways ahead of Congress in leading the way toward reform. Help us make sure our decision makers recognize the need to invest in a 21st century transportation system.

Check out our video showcasing our work to bring about better transportation options for America's future.

Issue updates

News Release | NCPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Study Shows Traffic Data Fails to Support Spending on I-26 Connector

A new national report calls the I-26 Connector project one of 11 examples of wasteful highway spending, based on its outdated assumptions of ever-increasing driving and lack of receptivity to community concerns. The study, which details ten other highway “boondoggles” across the country, points to data showing that a doubling of lanes is not necessary and that traffic on the route has not been clearly increasing. The study calls for the state to consider reprioritizing scarce transportation dollars to other projects.

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Report | NCPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles

Even though the Driving Boom is now over, state and federal governments continue to pour vast sums of money into the construction of new highways and expansion of old ones – at the expense of urgent needs such as road and bridge repairs, improvements in public transportation and other transportation priorities. Eleven proposed highway projects across the country – slated to cost at least $13 billion – exemplify the need for a fresh approach to transportation spending.

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News Release | NCPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report: Universities Like NC State Are Transportation Trailblazers as Students Lead Shift From Driving

How universities across America are at the forefront of finding new ways to meet the demands of Millennials for lifestyles with less driving.

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Report | NCPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A New Course

Across America, colleges and universities are showing that efforts aimed at reducing driving deliver powerful benefits for students, staff and surrounding communities. Policymakers at all levels of government should be looking to the innovative examples of these campuses. Universities and college towns also provide useful models for expanding the range of transportation options available to Americans while addressing the transportation challenges facing our communities.

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Report | NCPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A New Direction

The time has come for America to hit the “reset” button on transportation policy—replacing the policy infrastructure of the Driving Boom years with a more efficient, flexible and nimble system that is better able to meet the transportation needs of the 21st century.

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Media Hit | Transportation

More money sought for public transit

The cost of gasoline gobbled up economic stimulus checks received by households in North Carolina, according to a group pushing for more funding for public transportation.

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Media Hit | Transportation

N.C. PIRG: Pay for transit

If you're a typical American family of two adults and one child, you've received your $1,500 "economic stimulus" check from the federal government. And, since Feb. 13, when President Bush authorized that check, you've already spent it all—at the gas pump.

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News Release | NCPIRG | Transportation

Squandering the Stimulus: Average North Carolina Households Spent Their Economic Stimulus at the Pump

Without sufficient alternatives to driving, American families spent their entire economic stimulus check on high-priced gas.  According to new analysis from the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group, since President Bush signed the tax rebates into law on February 13th, the average household spent over $1500 filling their tanks. Gas costs were higher than average in areas without robust public transportation.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Transportation policy needs to catch up to 21st century

To keep our nation moving efficiently, the federal government must ensure dedicated funding and hold states accountable for upkeep of existing roadways. The responsibility is now left almost entirely up to states where it competes for scarce general revenue dollars with popular programs and typically loses out to expensive projects that offer big headlines and ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Federal, State, and Local Leaders Cite New Report

Public Transit received a boost as Congressman David Price, Congressman Brad Miller and other supporters held an event at the historic Seaboard Train Station calling for more public transit options in the Triangle, citing a major new report on oil savings and other benefits from public transportation across the country. The NC Public Interest Research Group (NCPIRG) report, A Better Way to Go: Meeting America’s 21st Century Transportation Challenges with Modern Public Transit, examines the challenges faced by America’s transportation system and the benefits of existing rail and bus projects in Triangle and other areas of the state.

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