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

Media Hit | Transportation

Feds authorize additional rail funding: opportunity to get money for local transit projects

President Bush signed legislation today that will strengthen the nation’s intercity passenger rail network to accommodate record ridership and make possible new routes. The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, which was supported by wide bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, authorizes close to $13 billion over five years to promote rail travel, relieve bottlenecks and begin investment in a new generation of high speed rail.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Forum Focuses on Public Transportation

In April of this year, the Special Transit Authority Commission made several recommendations for expanding bus service, regional rail service and light rail service. But they are recommendations that will cost money, the topic of which drew a packed audience at the McKimmon Center at North Carolina State University Thursday night.

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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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