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 | 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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Blog Post | Transportation

Owning Fewer Cars Isn’t Just For Millennials | Sean Doyle

New transportation options are making it easier for people to use transit more, own fewer cars, and even save money on transportation.

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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 | 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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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.

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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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Media Hit | Transportation

Report: Special interests threaten funding for bridges in disrepair

How much has been done to repair or replace ailing bridges? Not much, according to a new report from the Washington Public Interest Group that explores the nexus between transportation spending and special interest money.

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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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