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

Blog Post | Transportation

Why Is Our Infrastructure So Terrible? | Sean Doyle

America is facing a $1.4 trillion infrastructure funding crisis. This isn't some distant problem; it's already having a real effect on everyday Americans.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Good Things Come to Those On Bikes | Sean Doyle

Pull the bike out of the closet, pump up those tires, and dust off the helmet because it's Bike to Work Week!

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Don’t Believe the Hype – Millennials’ Transportation Habits Are Changing | Sean Doyle

Despite news stories claiming that Millennials are buying up cars at record rates, the reality is quite different. After adjusting previous studies to account for differences in the size of the generations measured, on a per-capita basis, Millennials are 29 percent less likely than members of Generation X to own a car.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading

Pages

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. 

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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

Pages

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.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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?

> Keep Reading

Pages

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.

Blog Post

 

Seattle was bracing itself for "Viadoom" when its main highway was set to close. Instead, residents saw an unprecedented drop in the number of cars on the road.

Blog Post

Talk about a captive market: For most of us, it's next to impossible to work, shop or go to school without a car. Auto lenders are taking full advantage.

Blog Post

The Trump administration is making some pretty outlandish claims to justify its roll back of the nation’s most effective program at fighting climate change. Asserting that stronger fuel economy standards make our roads less safe, the administration moved last week to weaken Obama-era clean car standards -- but their claims just aren’t true.

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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