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.

MOVING ILLINOIS FORWARD

Changing Transportation: U.S. PIRG's series of reports on the dramatic changes underway in how Americans travel.

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 they remind us of our dependence on foreign oil. Americans want choices for getting to work, school, shopping and more. With gas prices up and lifestyles changing, Americans — especially the young — are driving less.

We need a transportation system that reflects and supports the way we want to travel now.

Consider:

For six decades, the number of miles driven by Americans was on the rise year after year after year. Since 2004, Americans reversed the trend and have been driving less. Meanwhile, public transportation ridership nationwide is hitting record highs. This trend is greatest among younger Americans — who will be the biggest users of infrastructure built 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. 

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 our current aging infrastructure. Nearly 70,000 of the nation’s bridges are classified as “structurally deficient.” Instead of building ever-wider roads that will only make America more dependent on oil, we need to be smart in how we invest in highways, 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 government recognizes our need to invest in a 21st century transportation system.

Issue updates

Blog Post | Transportation

How Deadly are Your State’s Roads? | Sean Doyle

A new report by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows which states have the safest and most dangerous roads.  Here's how the states rank and what we can do about it.

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Media Hit | Transportation

3 lessons from the Illiana boondoggle

With a few sentences in a news release last week, Gov. Bruce Rauner drove a crucial nail in the Illiana Expressway's coffin, a precipitous fall for what had been Illinois' No. 1 transportation priority. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Transportation

Statement: Governor Rauner Kills the Illiana Boondoggle

We applaud Governor Rauner for heeding the advice of thousands of Illinois residents who urged him to kill the wasteful Illiana expressway. Governor Rauner cited the 'current fiscal crisis,' but even in good fiscal times, the Illiana was an unjustified waste of taxpayer dollars. 

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Transportation

Congress Punts for 33rd Time in Six Years on Federal Transportation Spending, then Leaves Town

With Congress having just passed another short-term transportation patch to extend current transportation law until the end of July, members left town on recess. The new patch marks the 33rd time in the last six years that Congress has relied upon a short-term extension of prior legislation for transportation funding, rather than find consensus on a long-term bill.

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Report | Illinois PIRG 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.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Transportation

New Report Ranks Chicago 14th Among 70 Major American Cities For High-Tech Transportation Options

A new report from Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group ranks American cities on how many new technology-enabled services and tools they have to meet transportation needs. It finds that Chicago ranks 14th among the nation’s 70 largest cities.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Transportation

Illinois PIRG Praises Blankenhorn Nomination, Early Rauner Action to Put the Brakes on the Illiana Boondoggle

In his first days in office Governor Rauner took two actions which spell trouble for the controversial Illiana Expressway: the nomination of Illiana critic Randy Blankenhorn to serve as Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), and an executive order suspending all new interstate infrastructure projects until they undergo a review.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Transportation

New Report Shows Mounting Evidence of Millennials’ Shift Away from Driving

A new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and Frontier Group shows mounting evidence that the Millennial generation’s dramatic shift away from driving is more than temporary. While the 2000s saw a marked decrease in the average number of miles traveled by young Americans, the study explains that those trends appear likely to continue even as the economy improves – in light of the consistency of Millennials’ surveyed preferences, a continued reduction of Millennials driving to work, and the continued decreases in per-capita driving among all Americans.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Say 'no' to the Illiana Expressway (again)

Yes, that's the Illiana Expressway, one of 11 questionable projects nationwide to earn a spot on the U.S. Public Interest Research Group's just-released "boondoggle" list.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Study: Traffic Data Does Not Support Spending on Illiana Expressway

A new report by Illinois PIRG Education Fund calls the Illiana Expressway one of 11 examples of wasteful highway spending based on its outdated assumptions of ever-increasing driving. 

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Transportation In Transition

Americans’ transportation habits have changed. The average American drives 7.6 percent fewer miles today than when per-capita driving peaked in 2004.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A New Way To Go

America is in the midst of a technological revolution ... and a big shift in our transportation habits.New transportation services are providing people with an abundance of new options, helping to overcome barriers to the use of non-driving forms of transportation, and shifting the economics behind individuals’ travel choices.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Moving Off the Road

After sixty years of almost constant increases in the annual number of miles Illinoisans drive, since 2004 Illinoisans have decreased their driving per-capita by over 6%. Nationally, there has been a decline in miles driven per-capita each year for the last eight years.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Transportation and the New Generation

From World War II until just a few years ago, the number of miles driven annually on America’s roads steadily increased. Then, at the turn of the century, something changed: Americans began driving less. By 2011, the average American was driving 6 percent fewer miles per year than in 2004. And the trend away from driving has been led by young people.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

High-Speed Rail: Public, Private or Both?

Public-private partnerships will likely be part of the development of high-speed rail in the United States.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Airlines Pushing Bill To Hide True Cost of Airfare | Ed Mierzwinski

After losing its court case to overturn new pro-consumer, pro-competition airfare price disclosure rules, the airline lobby has flown into Congress. Just before the spring recess, a House committee approved a so-called Transparent Airfares Act without benefit of a public hearing. It's a bad idea.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Transportation

How the CTA can protect consumers

The new Ventra fare card system, set to be rolled out to CTA riders this summer, has left people with a lot of questions about whether the system will be a good deal for Chicagoans.  The CTA will have one of the first transit fare systems in the country to be linked to a prepaid debit card – a largely unregulated product that can make it easy for private banks to gouge consumers with hidden fees and unpredictable charges.  

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