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

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
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
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
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Questionable lending drives Americans to record auto debt

The amount of money Americans owe on their cars is now at an all-time high -- up 75 percent since the end of 2009. Americans’ rising indebtedness for cars raises concerns about the financial future of millions of households as lenders extend credit to more and more Americans without the ability to repay, according to a new MASSPIRG report.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Northeastern states band together to tackle transportation pollution

How is the Northeast taking on the largest source of planet-warming, climate-changing pollution?

> Keep Reading

Pages

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
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Questionable lending drives Americans to record auto debt

The amount of money Americans owe on their cars is now at an all-time high -- up 75 percent since the end of 2009. Americans’ rising indebtedness for cars raises concerns about the financial future of millions of households as lenders extend credit to more and more Americans without the ability to repay, according to a new MASSPIRG report.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Massachusetts agrees to tackle transportation emissions through regional collaboration

Today, Massachusetts joined eight other states and Washington, D.C. to announce that they will create and implement a region-wide policy to curb emissions from transportation, now the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The announcement marks the next step in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) process, and represents significant, bipartisan movement towards eliminating the pollution that is causing global warming and harming public health.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Transportation

Ditching diesel isn’t just good for public health and the environment -- it’s affordable

Getting rid of that black cloud of exhaust behind our buses, and the negative health and environmental effects that come along with it, is easier than it may seem. According to a new report from MASSPIRG Education Fund and Environment Massachusetts Research and Policy Center, electric buses are not only cleaner and healthier than diesel buses, but transit agencies and school districts have many affordable options at their disposal to adopt them.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

MASSPIRG denounces federal proposal to stall Clean Car Standards

 

Americans stand to breathe more polluted air as a result of a rollback announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler proposed to roll back the “Clean Car” fuel economy standards, which, if left in place, would eliminate more than 2 billion metric tons of emissions.

> 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

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
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Electric Buses: Clean Transportation for Healthier Communities and Cleaner Air

Buses play a key role in in our nation’s transportation system, carrying millions of children daily to and from school and moving millions of Americans each day around our cities.

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Plugging In: Readying America's Cities for the Arrival of Electric Vehicles

With electric vehicles (EVs) hitting U.S. streets in record numbers, this new study by MASSPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group highlights best practices to help local officials make their cities as EV-friendly as possible.

> Keep Reading

Pages

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
Blog Post | Transportation

Northeastern states band together to tackle transportation pollution

How is the Northeast taking on the largest source of planet-warming, climate-changing pollution?

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

“A Big Step in the Right Direction”: Regional Public Transportation Gets a Boost

On July 26, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a budget providing $88 million in funding for the state's Regional Transit Authorities, which provide a lifeline for people living in Springfield, Worcester, Lowell, New Bedford and towns in between.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

The Trump Administration’s Flawed Reasons for Rolling Back Clean Car Standards | Matt Casale

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.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

To Build A 21st Century America, Start Here | Jeff Robinson

The stakes in the current infrastructure debate are high. But what matters most is not the size of any federal infrastructure package, nor how it is financed, nor even how many jobs it creates in the coming years. What matters most is building the infrastructure that will enable America to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

> Keep Reading

Pages

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
Blog Post | Transportation

Northeastern states band together to tackle transportation pollution

How is the Northeast taking on the largest source of planet-warming, climate-changing pollution?

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

“A Big Step in the Right Direction”: Regional Public Transportation Gets a Boost

On July 26, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a budget providing $88 million in funding for the state's Regional Transit Authorities, which provide a lifeline for people living in Springfield, Worcester, Lowell, New Bedford and towns in between.

> Keep Reading
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.

News Release | MASSPIRG

 

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.

Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund

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.

News Release | MASSPIRG

The amount of money Americans owe on their cars is now at an all-time high -- up 75 percent since the end of 2009. Americans’ rising indebtedness for cars raises concerns about the financial future of millions of households as lenders extend credit to more and more Americans without the ability to repay, according to a new MASSPIRG report.

Blog Post

How is the Northeast taking on the largest source of planet-warming, climate-changing pollution?

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