21st Century Transportation

Efficient public transportation systems like intercity rail and clean bus systems would make America’s transportation future better for everyone by reducing traffic congestion and pollution and increasing our options for getting around.

Reforming our broken transportation system

Changing Transportation: MASSPIRG's series of reports on the dramatic changes underway in how Americans want to get around.

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

News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Senate Bill Aims to Rollback Clean Car Standards

Today, Senators Blunt (R-MO), Moran (R-KS ), Young (R-IN), Stabenow (D-MI), Peters (D-MI), and McCaskill (D-MO) introduced a bill to amend vehicle standards, also known as the “Blunt Clean Cars Rollback”.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Regional Transportation Bill Clears MA Legislative Committee

A state house committee passed a key regional transportation initiative, a major step in improving and expand regional transportation options. The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Revenue reported favorably on the Regional Transportation Ballot Initiative bill (S.1551), introduced by Senator Eric Lesser (East Longmeadow).

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

MASSPIRG urges State House Committee to support Public Transportation | Deirdre Cummings

MASSPIRG's Transportation Advocate Matt Casale testified in support of key transportation funding inititative. 

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Transportation

MA transportation system is falling behind

Massachusetts transportation infastructure in need of significant repair and investment.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

New National Safety Council Data Show 20% Percent Increase in Motor-Vehicle Fatalities in Massachusetts Compared to 2015

 

New data released from the National Safety Council (NSC), a nonprofit, non- governmental public service organization chartered by Congress to promote health and safety in the United States, found a troubling increase in the number of motor-vehicle fatalities during the first half of 2016.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Senate Bill Aims to Rollback Clean Car Standards

Today, Senators Blunt (R-MO), Moran (R-KS ), Young (R-IN), Stabenow (D-MI), Peters (D-MI), and McCaskill (D-MO) introduced a bill to amend vehicle standards, also known as the “Blunt Clean Cars Rollback”.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Regional Transportation Bill Clears MA Legislative Committee

A state house committee passed a key regional transportation initiative, a major step in improving and expand regional transportation options. The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Revenue reported favorably on the Regional Transportation Ballot Initiative bill (S.1551), introduced by Senator Eric Lesser (East Longmeadow).

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Transportation

MA transportation system is falling behind

Massachusetts transportation infastructure in need of significant repair and investment.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

New National Safety Council Data Show 20% Percent Increase in Motor-Vehicle Fatalities in Massachusetts Compared to 2015

 

New data released from the National Safety Council (NSC), a nonprofit, non- governmental public service organization chartered by Congress to promote health and safety in the United States, found a troubling increase in the number of motor-vehicle fatalities during the first half of 2016.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Fifteen Organizations Support Complaint Filed Over Eliminated MBTA Late-Night Service

Fifteen organizations have issued letters supporting the complaint filed to the Federal Transit Administration in July by the Conservation Law Foundation, Alternatives for Community and Environment and Greater Four Corners Action Coalition. The complaint asked the FTA to compel the MBTA to implement an alternative to the cancelled Late-Night Service that would reduce the disproportionately high and adverse effects cancelling Late-Night Service had on low-income and minority riders.

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Expanding Public Transportation

Fewer cars will clog Boston’s highways thanks to an upcoming five-mile extension of the Green Line. Our research and advocacy helped build support for the project. We also helped convince state leaders to begin study on four additional major rail expansions.

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High Speed Rail

MASSPIRG worked with Congressman Olver to create the Northeast Rail Caucus in the House of Representatives.  The Northeast is the nation’s most densely population region.  We need regional coordination to ensure the Northeast is well positioned to take advantage of federal funding opportunities in order to invest in High Speed Rail.   

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

What's at Stake

A one percentage point decrease in driving below current growth rate projections would yield substantial economic, environmental, and public health benefits between now and 2030. Those benefits are expected to reach $2.3 billion a year, by 2030, and would be more than $20 billion cumulatively over the period. These savings would chiefly come from less money spent at the pump, less money spent on car collisions, less money spent on vehicle repair, and less money spent on road repair.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Who Pays For Roads?

Many Americans believe that drivers pay the full cost of the roads they use through gas taxes and other user fees. That has never been true, and it is less true now than at any other point in modern times. Today, general taxes paid by all tax- payers cover nearly as much of the cost of building and maintaining highways as the gas tax and other fees paid by drivers.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Keeping On Track

Keeping on Track provides you with updated information about the financial state of the Commonwealth's transportation system, completed statutory requirements, missed deadlines, and improvements made through new transportation investments.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

The Innovative Transportation Index

This report reviews the availability of 11 technology-enabled transportation services – including online ridesourcing, carsharing, ridesharing, taxi hailing, static and real-time transit information, multi-modal apps, and virtual transit ticketing – in 70 U.S. cities. It finds that residents of 19 cities, with a combined population of nearly 28 million people, have access to eight or more of these services, with other cities catching up rapidly.

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

The Next MASSDOT

Massachusetts is at a pivotal moment with regard to transporation. In recent year, the Commonwealth has taken the first steps toward reversing the transportation system's long slide into debt and decay. Long-awaited reforms to transportation agencies are under way. Long-deferred projects to repair and modernize our transportation system are finally moving forward.

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Blog Post | Transportation

MASSPIRG urges State House Committee to support Public Transportation | Deirdre Cummings

MASSPIRG's Transportation Advocate Matt Casale testified in support of key transportation funding inititative. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Clean Transportation Doesn’t Need To Be A Distant Utopia | John Olivieri

For many, when they think of combating global warming, they think of solar panels on rooftops and eliminating coal fired power plants. But, the truth is, there is not an effective solution to address global warming that does not deal with transportation as well.

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Blog Post | Transportation

A World Without Carbon Pollution – Closer Than You Might Think | John Olivieri

For many, a world without carbon pollution seems like a distant utopia. To some, this even seems unobtainable. The size and scope of the challenge before us can be daunting, yet, there is good news -- a world without carbon pollution is closer than you think.

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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.

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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!

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