21st Century Transportation

Efficient public transportation like intercity rail and clean bus systems make our transportation system 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 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.

Issue updates

Blog Post | Transportation

All Americans Deserve Clean Air to Breathe, On Earth Day and Every Day | Sean Doyle

U.S. DOT asks if we should measure global warming pollution from transportation.

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News Release | U.S.PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay, Transportation

Framework for VW Settlement Announced

Statement by Mike Litt, Consumer Program Advocate at U.S. PIRG Education Fund, on todays announced VW settlement. For more details on what a strong settlement agreement ought to look like, please see the open letter that we released earlier this week with other consumer and environmental groups.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Owning Fewer Cars Isn’t Just For Millennials | Sean Doyle

New transportation options are making it easier for people to use transit more, own fewer cars, and even save money on transportation.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Pulling a FAST one on our Transportation Future | Sean Doyle

For the first time in a decade, and after roughly three dozen short-term extensions, Congress has pulled together and passed a transportation-funding law lasting longer than two years. There is only one problem: the new law is the wrong deal for the country.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Transportation policy is health policy | Sean Doyle

While transportation is often just thought of as how we get from point A to point B, the way we choose to do so can have important consequences on our physical health, air quality, safety, the development of our cities, and how we interact within them.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Eduation Fund | Transportation

New Report: University Campuses Are Transportation Trailblazers as Students Lead Shift From Driving

As Millennials lead a national shift away from driving, universities are giving students new options for getting around and are becoming innovators in transportation policy.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Report Shows Chicago Driving Less, Using Transit and Alternatives More

A first-of-its-kind report by Illinois PIRG Education Fund shows reduced rates of car commuting in Illinois’ urbanized areas — including Chicago — and greater use of public transit and biking. 

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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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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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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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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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Blog Post

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.

News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund

Highway projects are notorious for wasting taxpayer dollars. Now, a new report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group identifies nine wasteful highway expansion projects across the country, slated collectively to cost at least $30 billion.

Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund

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 often do little to reduce congestion or address real transportation challenges, while diverting scarce funding from infrastructure repairs and 21st century transportation priorities. 

News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund

If Illinois transitioned its entire fleet of 3,216 transit buses to all-electric vehicles, it could significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions each year and reduce toxic air pollution that creates a public health hazard. A new report from Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group, “Electric Buses: Clean Transportation for Healthier Neighborhoods and Cleaner Air,” shows that a full transition to electric buses in Illinois could avoid an average of 106,993 tons of climate-altering pollution each year -- the equivalent of taking 20,655 cars off the road.  

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

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. Buses reduce the number of individual cars on our roads, make our communities more livable and sustainable, and provide transportation options for people of all ages and abilities. Yet, the majority of America’s buses remain dirty – burning fossil fuels like diesel that put the health of our children and communities at risk and contribute to global warming.

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