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

Blog Post | Transportation

Breaking the Silence on Transportation and the Climate

Transportation policy-makers in most states and at the federal level have simply never seen it as their business to consider, much less act to reduce, the climate impacts of their infrastructure investment decisions. The Obama administration’s actions last week, however tentative, suggest that that is about to change.

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Blog Post | Transportation

All Americans Deserve Clean Air to Breathe, On Earth Day and Every Day | Sean Doyle

U.S. DOT asks if we should measure global warming pollution from transportation.

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News Release | U.S.PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay, Transportation

Framework for VW Settlement Announced

Statement by Mike Litt, Consumer Program Advocate at U.S. PIRG Education Fund, on todays announced VW settlement. For more details on what a strong settlement agreement ought to look like, please see the open letter that we released earlier this week with other consumer and environmental groups.

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Media Hit | Transportation

12 of America's Biggest Highway Boondoggles

Given that expanding highways at great public cost doesn’t improve rush-hour traffic, there are better ways to spend this money, argue report authors Jeff Inglis of Frontier Group and John C. Olivieri of U.S. PIRG. They identify a dozen road projects, costing $24 billion in all, that are “representative” of the problem.

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Report | NCPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

HIGHWAY BOONDOGGLES II

America is currently in a transportation infrastructure-funding crisis. While our roads, bridges, and transit systems fall into disrepair, demand for public transportation, as well as safe bicycle and pedestrian routes, has increased. America’s long-term transportation behavior is changing, especially among Millennials, America’s largest generation. Nevertheless, states continue to spend billions each year on new and wider highways.

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Pages

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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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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News Release | NCPIRG | Transportation

Federal, State, and Local Leaders Cite New Report as Boosting Public Transit in the Triangle

Public Transit received a boost today 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) released "A Better Way to Go: Meeting America’s 21st Century Transportation Challenges with Modern Public Transit," which 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. 

> Keep Reading

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Report | NCPIRG Education Fund

Highway Boondoggles 5 finds nine new budget-eating highway projects slated to cost a total of $25 billion that will harm communities and the environment, while likely failing to achieve meaningful transportation goals

News Release | NC PIRG Education Fund

North Carolina transportation officials are planning to spend $2 billion on a new six-lane highway south of Raleigh, the most expensive highway in the state’s history. According to a new report from U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group, the “Complete 540 project” would cause sprawling development and degrade the environment.

Blog Post

For all of us who rely on our roads and public transit, and our water, sewage and power systems, the agreement reached by President Trump and Democratic congressional leaders in May to commit $2 trillion to infrastructure should be good news.

Blog Post

When it comes to clean transportation, most U.S. states are underutilizing funds from Volkswagen’s nearly $3 billion settlement with federal authorities for violating emissions standards.

Report | NCPIRG Education Fund

Every state, with the exception of Florida, has now published its plan to spend the money being received as part of the Volkswagen emissions violations settlement. This scorecard grades each state’s plan on how well it is designed to take full advantage of the opportunity to invest in transportation electrification.

Transportation | U.S. PIRG

Volkswagen settlement scorecard

Volkswagen was caught cheating emissions laws and settled with federal authorities. The settlement included nearly $3 billion for the Environmental Mitigation Trust. How well does our state rank on plans for investing VW mitigation trust funds in clean transportation projects?

 
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