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

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
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Gov. Baker’s congestion report marred by recommendation to add new highway lanes

 

In a rebuke to the long awaited study Gov. Baker released this morning --- “Congestion in the Commonwealth”--- MASSPIRG Staff Attorney issued a critical statement. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Testimony in Favor of 100 Percent Renewable Energy and Electric Vehicle Fleets | Matt Casale

Our testimony, delivered to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy on July 23, 2019, in support of "An act to transition Massachusetts to 100 percent renewable energy" (HB2836 and SB1958) and "An act to promote zero-emission vehicle fleets by 2035" (HB2872 and SB1929). 

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

New state budget is a step in the right direction for Regional Transit Authorities, but more resources are needed

The House and Senate members of the budget conference committee unveiled their compromise budget Sunday for fiscal year 2020, which has now been passed by both the House and Senate. As part of that agreement, now heading to Gov. Baker’s desk, the Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) will receive $87 million in base funding and an additional $3.5 million for one-time grants.

> 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

Pages

News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Gov. Baker’s congestion report marred by recommendation to add new highway lanes

 

In a rebuke to the long awaited study Gov. Baker released this morning --- “Congestion in the Commonwealth”--- MASSPIRG Staff Attorney issued a critical statement. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

New state budget is a step in the right direction for Regional Transit Authorities, but more resources are needed

The House and Senate members of the budget conference committee unveiled their compromise budget Sunday for fiscal year 2020, which has now been passed by both the House and Senate. As part of that agreement, now heading to Gov. Baker’s desk, the Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) will receive $87 million in base funding and an additional $3.5 million for one-time grants.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Massachusetts rates in top seven states on Volkswagen settlement spending plan

When it comes to clean transportation, Massachusetts ranked in the top seven states for making the most of funds from Volkswagen’s nearly $3 billion settlement with federal authorities, according to a new report card from MASSPIRG Education Fund and Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Electric bus demonstrations held in three Massachusetts communities

To showcase the value of fully transitioning from fossil-fuel buses, MASSPIRG held electric bus demonstrations in three Massachusetts communities. A 40-foot-long all-electric bus began its tour at The Beebe School in Malden on March 21, before moving to Cape Ann Transportation Authority in Gloucester on March 22. It made its last stop at First Church in Belmont on March 24 from 2:30pm-4:30pm.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Statement: MBTA’s fare increases will reduce public transit ridership

 

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Fiscal and Management Control Board today approved an approximate 6 percent fare increase for all forms of MBTA public transportation services with the exception of buses. The added travel costs will take effect in July and are the fourth increase since 2012. These increased fares are expected to cause a significant decline in ridership. Read on for MASSPIRG's statement.

> 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 | 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
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Paying for Electric Buses

Electric buses are here, and they are cleaner and healthier than their diesel counterparts. They save money over the long-run, but the purchase price of an electric bus is greater than that of a diesel bus. Many transit agencies and school districts want to make the switch, but struggle with overcoming the hurdle of the purchase price. This new report lays out funding and financing options that will help transit agencies and school districts ditch diesel and get us on the road to a cleaner, healthier world. 

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

Highway Boondoggles 4

America's infrastructure is in rough shape. Many of our roads, bridges, and transit systems are aging and in need of repair. Yet, year after year, state and local governments propose billions of dollars' worth of new and expanded highways that do little to reduce congestion or address real transportation challenges, while diverting scarce funding from repairs and 21st century priorities. This report profiles nine highway projects that epitomize the need for a fresh approach to transportation spending.

> Keep Reading

Pages

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 | Transportation

Testimony in Favor of 100 Percent Renewable Energy and Electric Vehicle Fleets | Matt Casale

Our testimony, delivered to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy on July 23, 2019, in support of "An act to transition Massachusetts to 100 percent renewable energy" (HB2836 and SB1958) and "An act to promote zero-emission vehicle fleets by 2035" (HB2872 and SB1929). 

> 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
Blog Post | Transportation

Wouldn't It Be Nice if Bus and Bikeshare Worked Together? | Matt Casale

Guest Post from Frontier Group's Gideon Weissman: His week on BlueBike, Boston's bikeshare system, felt like a glimpse into the future of urban transportation. Now, how can Boston realize a modern transit system that more closely integrates bikes, buses and trains?

> Keep Reading

Pages

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
Blog Post | Transportation

What did Boston's clear streets and sidewalks full of snow this winter say about our car-centric priorities?

 

The law of the land in Boston is that the city plows the streets, but residents are responsible for the sidewalks.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Our 'Driving into Debt' report highlights the impact of risky auto loans and car ownership

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.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post

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

News Release | MASSPIRG

 

In a rebuke to the long awaited study Gov. Baker released this morning --- “Congestion in the Commonwealth”--- MASSPIRG Staff Attorney issued a critical statement. 

Blog Post

Our testimony, delivered to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy on July 23, 2019, in support of "An act to transition Massachusetts to 100 percent renewable energy" (HB2836 and SB1958) and "An act to promote zero-emission vehicle fleets by 2035" (HB2872 and SB1929). 

News Release | MASSPIRG

The House and Senate members of the budget conference committee unveiled their compromise budget Sunday for fiscal year 2020, which has now been passed by both the House and Senate. As part of that agreement, now heading to Gov. Baker’s desk, the Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) will receive $87 million in base funding and an additional $3.5 million for one-time grants.

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.

Transportation | MASSPIRG

MBTA is starting to transform transportation

Across the country, the transition to electric buses is picking up speed. Nearly 200 new electric and hybrid buses are hitting Greater Boston's streets this summer.

 

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?

 

Transportation | MASSPIRG

Electric buses make their way through Massachusetts

MASSPIRG gave three communities a glimpse into the cleaner, healthier future that awaits them with a transition to zero-emissions buses.

 
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