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

Media Hit | Transportation

USA Today: Young People Driving Less

U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that online and mobile technology have fundamentally changed the way Americans live and work over the past 15 years; during the same period, growth in vehicle travel slowed and then stopped. U.S. PIRG suggests that these two developments are connected.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Study Finds Technology Enabling Americans to Drive Less

In a first-of-its-kind study, Illinois PIRG compiled nation-wide evidence on transportation apps and vehicle sharing programs – like Divy Bike and Zip Car – and found that these advanced new tools have made it easier for Americans to drive less. Real-time apps and on-board wi-fi for public transit, as well as carsharing, bikesharing and ridesharing have spread rapidly in recent years.

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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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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report Shows Illinoisans are Driving Less

Illinoisans have cut their per-person driving miles by 6.6 percent since 2005, while the nation’s long term driving boom appears to have ended, according to a new report from the Illinois PIRG Education Fund.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Reduction in Driving Likely to Continue

As the average number of miles driven by Americans heads into its eighth year of decline, a new report from the Illinois PIRG Education Fund finds that the slowdown in driving is likely to continue.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report: Long-Term Drop in How Much People Drive

A new report released today by the Illinois PIRG Education Fund demonstrates that Americans have been driving less since the middle of last decade. The report shows that young people in particular are decreasing the amount they drive and increasing their use of transportation alternatives.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Report Examines Whether High-Speed Rail Should Be Public, Private or Both

A first-of-its-kind report released today examines whether high-speed rail should be public, private or both.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Transportation

Myth Busted: Road Costs Not Covered by Gas Taxes

A new report released today by the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG) disproves the common misperception that road-building is paid for by user fees, showing that gas taxes cover barely half the costs of building and maintaining roads, a fraction which is likely to fall steadily.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Experience Shows High-Speed Rail Can Boost Economy, Reduce Traffic

Drawing lessons from other countries, a new study from Illinois PIRG shows that high-speed rail can boost our economy, save energy, curb pollution and provide a popular alternative to congested roads and airports.

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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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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Do Roads Pay for Themselves?

Highway advocates often claim that roads “pay for themselves,” with gasoline taxes and other charges to motorists covering—or nearly covering—the full cost of highway construction and maintenance. They are wrong.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A Track Record of Success

As America moves toward construction of new high-speed rail networks in regions throughout the country, we have much to learn from experiences abroad.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Connecting the Midwest

Completing the Midwest’s regional rail system should be a priority for addressing many of the region’s toughest transportation challenges, while delivering badly needed economic activity.

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