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

Blog Post | Transportation

MASSPIRG Testimony in Favor of Transitioning to 100% Renewable Energy | Matthew Casale

MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Matt Casale testified before the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Telecommunication, Utitlies, and Energy in favor a bill that would require the state to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

MASSPIRG Testimony in Favor of Bill to Improve Rail Service Between Springfield and Boston | Matthew Casale

On September 18, MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Matt Casale testified before the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation in favor of H3428 - An act relative to improving passenger rail service between Springfield and Boston.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Transportation

Boston's seaport eyed for testing new traffic management system

MASSPIRG's Matt Casale appeared on Fox 25 Boston to talk about the city's new traffic management system. 

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Transportation

Boston's rush hour is starting earlier, lasting longer

MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Matt Casale appeared on Boston 25 News on September 5 to talk about our traffic problem.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

As Vehicle Miles Traveled Rise, So Do Traffic Fatalities | Matthew Casale

Driving in Massachusetts can be deadly. More deadly than ever before, according to new data released by the National Safety Council (NSC). The new data show that in Massachusetts, there were 180 motor-vehicle fatalities from January 2017 through June 2017, a 46 percent increase compared to the same period in 2013. What accounts for the increase in the death toll? Well, more people are driving more miles. According to the NSC, the increase in fatalities in 2017 likely results from the improving economy and low gas prices. Both of those factors lead to more traffic, as more people commute to work and can afford to drive farther and take vacations. What is most frustrating about the increase in motor-vehicle deaths is that it is largely preventable. Investing in roads that are designed to calm traffic and increase options for people walking, biking and taking transit is not only a more efficient use of limited financial resources—it will saves lives. In short, if we shift our transportation policies to incentivize non-motor-vehicle modes of travel, fewer people will die.

> Keep Reading

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Media Hit | Transportation

Boston's seaport eyed for testing new traffic management system

MASSPIRG's Matt Casale appeared on Fox 25 Boston to talk about the city's new traffic management system. 

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Transportation

Boston's rush hour is starting earlier, lasting longer

MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Matt Casale appeared on Boston 25 News on September 5 to talk about our traffic problem.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

WITH MASSACHUSETTS PLEDGING TO COMPLY WITH GOALS OF PARIS AGREEMENT, NEW REPORT FINDS $75 MILLION IN VOLKSWAGEN SETTLEMENT FUNDS COULD HELP ACCELERATE ALL ELECTRIC TRANSPORTATION REVOLUTION

A new report from the MASSPIRG Education Fund finds that $75 million from the Volkswagen (VW) settlement is headed to Massachusetts to help clean up the country’s transportation system and strongly recommends using the funds to purchase electric vehicle fast charging stations for highways along with an aggressive expansion of all-electric transit buses to replace aging, dirty, diesel buses. The report finds the state could supply between 112 and 224 additional fast charging stations, and could purchase around 79 all-electric, zero-emissions buses, reducing dangerous pollution and saving money, all while accelerating market transformation to an all-electric transportation system. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

MASSPIRG Statement on Funding for Regional Transit Authorities in Massachusetts FY18 Budget

 

On July 7, the House and Senate sent a $40.2 billion budget to Governor Baker’s desk. The legislation avoids tax increases and mostly holds spending flat at state agencies for fiscal 2018. Although the regional transit authorities (RTAs), as well as advocates, had recommended funding the RTAs at $86 million, in the budget on the Governor’s desk, RTAs, which provide public transit services throughout the Commonwealth, receive only $80.4 million.

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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”.

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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

From Deceit to Transformation

Volkswagen (VW) perpetuated a fraud on the American people, deceiving consumers into believing that they were getting the best possible combination of performance and sustainability. But VW’s promises were nothing more than lies that significantly harmed our collective health and the health of our environment. As a result of the settlements that followed this fraud, an Environmental Mitigation Trust (EMT) was set up with $2.9 billion dollars to be distributed to states to reduce transportation emissions, with $75 million coming to Massachusetts. 

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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.

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Blog Post | Transportation

MASSPIRG Testimony in Favor of Transitioning to 100% Renewable Energy | Matthew Casale

MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Matt Casale testified before the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Telecommunication, Utitlies, and Energy in favor a bill that would require the state to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

MASSPIRG Testimony in Favor of Bill to Improve Rail Service Between Springfield and Boston | Matthew Casale

On September 18, MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Matt Casale testified before the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation in favor of H3428 - An act relative to improving passenger rail service between Springfield and Boston.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

As Vehicle Miles Traveled Rise, So Do Traffic Fatalities | Matthew Casale

Driving in Massachusetts can be deadly. More deadly than ever before, according to new data released by the National Safety Council (NSC). The new data show that in Massachusetts, there were 180 motor-vehicle fatalities from January 2017 through June 2017, a 46 percent increase compared to the same period in 2013. What accounts for the increase in the death toll? Well, more people are driving more miles. According to the NSC, the increase in fatalities in 2017 likely results from the improving economy and low gas prices. Both of those factors lead to more traffic, as more people commute to work and can afford to drive farther and take vacations. What is most frustrating about the increase in motor-vehicle deaths is that it is largely preventable. Investing in roads that are designed to calm traffic and increase options for people walking, biking and taking transit is not only a more efficient use of limited financial resources—it will saves lives. In short, if we shift our transportation policies to incentivize non-motor-vehicle modes of travel, fewer people will die.

> 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
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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