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 | U.S. PIRG | Transportation

Statement: Senate vote heralds cleaner future, safer climate

WASHINGTON – Midway through a summer full of brutally hot weather, flash floods and worsening drought, the U.S. Senate passed the largest-ever package of climate and clean energy investments. The Inflation Reduction Act includes roughly $369 billion in climate spending, designed to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 and put the United States’ Paris Climate Accord goals within reach. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on Friday, August 12.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Transportation

STATEMENT: New federal rule would help tackle country’s largest source of global warming pollution: transportation

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s administration announced a new proposed rule on Thursday to address the climate impact of the nation’s transportation system. The rule, proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), will require state transportation departments and ​​metropolitan planning organizations to report the carbon dioxide emissions of vehicles traveling on their respective sections of the federal highway system, and to set declining yearly emissions targets. The public will have 90 days to comment on the proposed rule.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

How rural states and drivers can reduce their dependence on gas

High gas prices are not going anywhere soon, thanks to the supply shocks from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Some Americans might be able to switch to bikes or public transportation to avoid the worst of this crisis. But even for those in rural areas who cannot practically or safely make that switch, there are still alternatives.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Transportation

Statement: Senate vote heralds cleaner future, safer climate

WASHINGTON – Midway through a summer full of brutally hot weather, flash floods and worsening drought, the U.S. Senate passed the largest-ever package of climate and clean energy investments. The Inflation Reduction Act includes roughly $369 billion in climate spending, designed to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 and put the United States’ Paris Climate Accord goals within reach. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on Friday, August 12.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Transportation

STATEMENT: New federal rule would help tackle country’s largest source of global warming pollution: transportation

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s administration announced a new proposed rule on Thursday to address the climate impact of the nation’s transportation system. The rule, proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), will require state transportation departments and ​​metropolitan planning organizations to report the carbon dioxide emissions of vehicles traveling on their respective sections of the federal highway system, and to set declining yearly emissions targets. The public will have 90 days to comment on the proposed rule.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Transportation

Statement: Biden restores robust public and environmental review for infrastructure projects

The Biden administration announced on Tuesday stronger public and environmental review requirements under a bedrock environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The move reversed a rollback by the Trump administration of the requirements, which had limited public review of federal infrastructure projects in an effort to shove through the permitting of new freeways, fossil fuel power plants and pipelines.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Transportation

Consumer Groups Commend GM Commitment To Ensure Used Cars It Sells On New Platform Are Free from Unrepaired Safety Recall Defects

Coalition: U.S. PIRG, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, the Center for Auto Safety and the Consumer Federation of America - safety groups that are usually at odds with auto manufacturers - today publicly commended General Motors for the auto giant’s recently announced commitment not to sell used vehicles with unrepaired safety recall defects on its soon-to-be-launched used car platform, CarBravo. Too many car dealers sell dangerous recalled used vehicles.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report: President Biden’s first year in office marks progress on numerous environmental fronts

Following years of rollbacks, President Joe Biden began his term nearly a year ago amidst unprecedented environmental and public health challenges. Despite these obstacles, his administration has made significant strides toward restoring lost environmental protections and confronting daunting threats to our climate and public health, according to a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

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.

> Keep Reading

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.   

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Progress Report: President Biden’s First Year

Following years of rollbacks, President Joe Biden began his term nearly a year ago amidst unprecedented environmental and public health challenges. Despite these obstacles, his administration has made significant strides toward restoring lost environmental protections and confronting daunting threats to our climate and public health, according to a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund. 

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Electric Buses in America

New report profiles six case studies of early electric bus adopters across the nation. By understanding common pitfalls and best practices, cities, agencies and school districts can ensure a smoother roll-out of electric buses, helping reduce climate pollution and protect public health.

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

VOLKSWAGEN SETTLEMENT STATE 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 Massachusetts rank on plans for investing VW mitigation trust funds in clean transportation projects?

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Blueprint for Tomorrow

Infrastructure is at the heart of America’s greatest challenges. The infrastructure investments made by generations past have contributed to improved health and welfare, and to the nation’s unparalleled economic prosperity. But the infrastructure decisions of the past have also cast a long shadow, leaving America to deal with the burden of lead water pipes that jeopardize our children’s health, fossil fuel pipelines that contribute to global warming, and transportation and solid waste infrastructure that no longer serve today’s needs.

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Driving Into Debt

In much of America, access to a car is all but required to hold a job or lead a full and vibrant life. Generations of car-centric transportation policies – including lavish spending on roads, sprawl-inducing land use policies, and meager support for other modes of transportation – have left millions of Americans fully dependent on cars for daily living.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Transportation

How rural states and drivers can reduce their dependence on gas

High gas prices are not going anywhere soon, thanks to the supply shocks from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Some Americans might be able to switch to bikes or public transportation to avoid the worst of this crisis. But even for those in rural areas who cannot practically or safely make that switch, there are still alternatives.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Update: USDOT now accepting applications for the Reconnecting American Communities program | Lisa Frank

Many communities were cut off by highway projects. A new program aims to help.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Tips, Transportation

How discounts and incentives for electric vehicles should be improved | Mike Litt

Our Consumer Campaign Director was invited to speak at the Consumer Federation of America’s (CFA) 56th Annual Consumer Assembly on a panel about consumer protections and climate change.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Transportation

Matt Casale to legislators: The path forward is electric

In a room packed with legislators, advocates and staffers, MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Matt Casale elaborated on the health and climate benefits of electric buses at a Sept. 17 legislative briefing on Beacon Hill.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

MASSPIRG transportation advocate earns an award like no other

Sometimes, you do something so well that they rename your award just to get the point across.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

New highway lanes won't ease Massachusetts traffic. They'll make it worse.

Despite claims to the contrary, new highway lanes are likely to place Massachusetts on the wrong side of a traffic congestion "tipping point."

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Solid Waste, Transportation

Before we spend $2 trillion, report recommends a 'Blueprint for Tomorrow'

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.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Make VW Pay, Transportation

Some states are spending funds from VW 'Dieselgate' settlement on diesel

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.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | U.S. PIRG

WASHINGTON – Midway through a summer full of brutally hot weather, flash floods and worsening drought, the U.S. Senate passed the largest-ever package of climate and clean energy investments. The Inflation Reduction Act includes roughly $369 billion in climate spending, designed to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 and put the United States’ Paris Climate Accord goals within reach. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on Friday, August 12.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s administration announced a new proposed rule on Thursday to address the climate impact of the nation’s transportation system. The rule, proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), will require state transportation departments and ​​metropolitan planning organizations to report the carbon dioxide emissions of vehicles traveling on their respective sections of the federal highway system, and to set declining yearly emissions targets. The public will have 90 days to comment on the proposed rule.

Blog Post

High gas prices are not going anywhere soon, thanks to the supply shocks from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Some Americans might be able to switch to bikes or public transportation to avoid the worst of this crisis. But even for those in rural areas who cannot practically or safely make that switch, there are still alternatives.

Blog Post

Many communities were cut off by highway projects. A new program aims to help.

Transportation

EPA announces $5 billion for electric school buses

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a $5 billion Clean School Bus Program to help school districts replace polluting diesel buses with clean electric ones. Currently, most of the nation’s 450,000 school buses run on diesel fuel, even though diesel exhaust has been linked to respiratory illness, cancer and other serious health risks.

 

Transportation

Money for nothing? How to make better use of our transportation dollars.

"Shifting Gears," a report released by our research partner U.S. PIRG Education Fund, examines the failure of America's outdated transportation finance system — one that too often sacrifices funding for clean, sustainable options like transit or biking infrastructure in favor of wasteful road expansions.

 

Transportation

Massachusetts signs landmark commitment to slash transportation emissions

Massachusetts has signed onto the landmark Transportation and Climate Initiative Program, which will invest in clean transportation projects such as zero-emission electric vehicles, expanded public transit options, and walking and biking infrastructure. Several other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states have joined or expressed support as well.

 

Transportation

Massachusetts Legislature considers bill to require MBTA to go electric

The Massachusetts Senate is considering a bill that would require the MBTA to fully transition to electric buses by 2040. The effect would be staggering: 55,000 tons of greenhouse gases would no longer be emitted each year — the equivalent of taking more than 10,600 cars off the road. MASSPIRG is urging the Legislature to pass this vital bill.

 
View AllRSS Feed

Support Us

Your donation supports MASSPIRG's work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

Consumer Alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates and take action on critical issues.
Optional Member Code



MASSPIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.