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 Washington 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.

Issue updates

Report | WashPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 2

Twelve proposed highway projects across the country – slated to cost at least $24 billion – exemplify the need for a fresh approach to transportation spending. These projects, some originally proposed decades ago, are either intended to address problems that do not exist or have serious negative impacts on surrounding communities that undercut their value.

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News Release | WashPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Puget Sound Gateway Makes National List of Highway Boondoggles, Wastes $2.8 Billion in Taxpayer Dollars

Puget Sound Gateway project makes national list of highway boondoggles. New research report finds at least $24 billion in taxpayer dollars will be wasted on 12 highway projects across the country. Details how these projects are wrongly prioritizing expansion over repair of existing infrastructure and are based on poor projections of future needs. Explains how each project fails to effectively combat congestion or wisely meet other needs. Recommends using better projection models that take into account changing transportation preferences, especially among Millennials. 

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Blog Post | Transportation

Pulling a FAST one on our Transportation Future | Sean Doyle

For the first time in a decade, and after roughly three dozen short-term extensions, Congress has pulled together and passed a transportation-funding law lasting longer than two years. There is only one problem: the new law is the wrong deal for the country.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Millennials Want More Public Transportation | Sean Doyle

A new poll shows that access to public transportation is “very important” for Millennials in considering where to live and where to work.  The results support our research over the past few years that found Millennials are driving less than older generations and are more prone to walk, bike, or take transit to get where they need to go.

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Blog Post | Transportation

How Deadly are Your State’s Roads? | Sean Doyle

A new report by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows which states have the safest and most dangerous roads.  Here's how the states rank and what we can do about it.

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News Release | WashPIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Report Shows University of Washington, Other University Campuses are Transportation Trailblazers as Students Lead Shift From Driving

SEATTLE – As Millennials lead a state and national shift away from driving, universities are giving students new options for getting around and becoming innovators in transportation policy, according to a new report released today.

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News Release | WashPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Puget Sound and Other Washington Urbanized Areas Driving Less, Using Transit and Alternatives More

SEATTLE – A first-of-its-kind report by the WashPIRG Foundation shows reduced car commuting in Washington’s urbanized areas—including the Greater Seattle area, Greater Spokane, and Portland-Vancouver—and more use of  transportation alternatives, like public transit and biking. 

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News Release | WASHPIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Report Shows Washingtonians Are Driving Less

Washingtonians have cut their per-person driving miles by 5.5 percent since 2005, while the nation’s long term driving boom appears to have ended, according to a new report from the WashPIRG Foundation.

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News Release | WashPIRG | Transportation

Transportation Bill is a Step Backwards

Statement by Phineas Baxandall, WashPIRG’s Senior Transportation Analyst, regarding the disappointing federal Transportation Bill as released from conference committee today.

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News Release | WashPIRG | Transportation

New Report: Hundreds of WA Bridges Structurally Deficient

With President Obama calling for robust investments to repair America’s crumbling roads and bridges, the Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG) released data today documenting the number of “structurally deficient” bridges in Washington State.

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Blog Post | Transportation

How Deadly are Your State’s Roads? | Sean Doyle

A new report by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows which states have the safest and most dangerous roads.  Here's how the states rank and what we can do about it.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Testimony of Bruce Speight, WashPIRG Executive Director at a hearing on Senate Transportation Package, SB 5987, House Transportation Committee, 26 March 2015 | Bruce Speight

Despite changing transportation trends, our state’s own revised forecasts, and crumbling infrastructure, this bill significantly increases spending on highway construction and increased lane capacity, while giving short shrift to repair and maintenance and other modes, including transit and biking.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Five Factors Will Determine Whether TIFIA Will Fund Transit

Last week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood hailed his department’s $545.9 million loan from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA) to construct Los Angeles’ 8.5 mile light rail transit line along the Crenshaw corridor.  He touted it as “just one example of how DOT’s TIFIA credit assistance program extends the value of America's transportation dollar.” But will public transit financing really be the future of TIFIA?

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