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

News Release | WashPIRG | Transportation

Transportation Deal Wasteful, Misguided, Environmentally Irresponsible

WashPIRG is calling on state representatives to reject the transportation deal, as wasteful and full of misplaced priorities.  WashPIRG has opposed previous iterations of the transportation package because they would increase taxes to pay overwhelmingly for highway expansions that are largely unjustified, and would worsen pollution and climate change emissions – all while shortchanging funding for the repair and maintenance of our existing roads and bridges.  The deal crafted by state leaders will worsen the state of repair of Washington’s transportation system – reducing the ratio of funding to bridge repair and maintenance and doubling down on funding for questionable projects such as the Puget Sound Gateway.  

> Keep Reading
News Release | WashPIRG | Transportation

Highway Expansion Projects Stall Under Growing Scrutiny

As part of a pattern of costly highway expansion proposals stalling under increased scrutiny, a federal court in Wisconsin made history last week by forbidding the use of federal dollars to build a highway because no need had been demonstrated. The court put an abrupt halt to Governor Scott Walker’s plans to spend $146 million widening state Highway 23, holding the project ineligible for federal funding. The court cited inadequate evidence in state travel forecasts or recent traffic counts, adding doubt whether other highway expansion proposals around the country are really needed.

> Keep Reading
News Release | WashPIRG | Transportation

Sierra Club, WashPIRG Urge Legislators to Reject Both House and Senate Transportation Packages

The Washington chapter of the Sierra Club and WashPIRG are calling on state leaders to reject both the senate and house transportation committee-approved transportation revenue proposals.  Both proposed packages increase taxes to pay overwhelmingly for highway expansions that in many cases are wasteful and unjustified, and that could worsen environmental pollution and climate change emissions.  Meanwhile, they shortchange funding for the repair and maintenance of our existing roads and bridges.

> Keep Reading
News Release | WashPIRG | Transportation

House Transportation Package Not a Gift for Taxpayers on Tax Day

The House Transportation Committee approved a transportation revenue and spending package on April 14 that increases taxes to pay overwhelmingly for highway expansions that in some cases are wasteful and unjustified, and that could worsen environmental pollution and climate change emissions.  Meanwhile, the package shortchanges funding for the repair and maintenance of our existing roads and bridges.  

> Keep Reading
News Release | WashPIRG | Transportation

Misplaced Priorities in Senate Transportation Package Draw Stiff Criticism

WashPIRG, Sierra Club Transportation Chair Tim Gould, and members of the community released hundreds of petitions and dozens of opposition letters signed by members of the community, local elected officials, small business owners, and students, calling on state legislators in the House to cut wasteful highway spending on projects like the Puget Sound Gateway.  The petitions and letters will be delivered to legislators in the House over the next few days.

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News Release | WashPIRG | Transportation

Report Examines Whether High-Speed Rail Should Be Public, Private or Both

The report comes at a time when Congress and state officials are debating future funding for high-speed rail, including upgrades to Amtrak’s 467-mile “Cascade Corridor” which connects Eugene, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, BC. Meanwhile, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure chair has proposed privatizing Amtrak with the hope of garnering private financing for new bullet trains along the Northeast. California is seeking private funds as part of a planned route connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco.

> Keep Reading
News Release | WashPIRG | Transportation

Report: Most Aging Baby Boomers Will Face Poor Mobility Options

The first baby boomers turn 65 years old this year and seniors in the Puget Sound area are in danger of being unable to get around. The largest generation in history, Boomers are also the most dependent on automobile travel. Yet by 2015, many seniors ages 65 and older in the Puget Sound area will live in communities with poor options for people who do not drive, according to a new report. Many metropolitan areas in Washington state will see over a 70% increase in the number of seniors without adequate access to transit since 2000.

> Keep Reading
News Release | WashPIRG | Transportation

Myth Busted: Federal roads costs not covered by gas taxes

A new report, Do Roads Pay for Themselves? Setting the Record Straight on Transportation Funding,released today by the Washington Public Interest Research Group disproves the common misperception that road-building is paid for by user fees in the form of gas taxes.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Report: High-speed rail could help conserve energy, reduce congestion

Investing in high-speed rail in the U.S. could help conserve energy and relieve traffic congestion as travelers switch from cars and short inter-city flights to more efficient trains, according to a new report released Wednesday from the Washington Public Interest Research Group.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Things Don't Look Good For Transit Next Year

Bill LaBorde, lobbyist for the Transportation Choices Coalition, just unveiled the TCC’s legislative agenda for 2010. 

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