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.

Public transit, biking and walking for the future

Changing Transportation: MASSPIRG Education Fund's series of reports on the dramatic changes underway in how Americans travel.

Americans are increasingly looking for more and better options to get around — options like expanded public transit, better biking alternatives, walkable neighborhoods and high-performance intercity trains. But while our transportation preferences are changing, too often our transportation policies are stuck in the past. 

Our work has helped to educate the public about the changing ways we get around and the need for policy reform to respond to and encourage further transformation. Our nation’s highway-focused transportation system leaves too many communities isolated from opportunity, creates too much pollution, causes health problems, and does a poor job of getting Americans where they want to go. While Americans increasingly want to live in communities with other ways to travel, our vision for a national transportation system is largely stuck in the 1950s. Instead of simply lurching from one funding crisis to the next, our nation needs to make smart choices that will prepare us for the 21st century. These include a forward-looking 21st century transportation system that serves more places, is more reliable, creates less pollution and reduces global warming emissions.

Some communities across the country are responding, implementing a vision for transportation that includes things like bridges designed for walkers, bikers, trains and streetcars, but not automobiles; bus stations that are also digital hot spots; smart traffic lights that communicate with cars, and other innovative solutions.

Through a series of well researched and eye opening reports, public outreach, and work with local coalitions and public officials, we've pushed for more forward-looking reforms. We’ve turned the tide against wasteful highway expansion boondoggles. We've encouraged Departments of Transportation to recognize and plan for a shift toward more balanced travel choices. We’ve demonstrated the enormous benefits that have been gained so far with reductions in the nation’s volume of driving. There’s much work ahead to promote new planning and policy approaches that accomplish these goals and MASSPIRG Education Fund is hard at work already. 

Check out our video showcasing our work to bring about better transportation options for America's future.


Issue updates

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.

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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.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

MASSPIRG, RTA Officials, Regional Community Leaders and Students Discuss Transportation Issues in Southeastern, MA at UMass Dartmouth

 On Thursday, April 5, at UMass Dartmouth, MASSPIRG hosted a transportation forum where RTA officials, regional community leaders, and students discussed transportation issues in Southeastern Massachusetts.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

As Electric Cars Revolutionize the Vehicle Market, New Study Helps Cities Address Infrastructure and Parking Challenges

With electric vehicles (EVs) hitting U.S. streets in record numbers, a new study by MASSPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group highlights best practices to help local officials make their cities as EV-friendly as possible. The new report, “Plugging In: Readying America’s Cities for the Arrival of Electric Vehicles,” includes local and state data for Boston and Massachusetts about the projected number of electric cars expected on the road in coming years, and how cities can accommodate these new EVs with enough places to park and recharge.

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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.

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Media Hit | Transportation

MA transportation system is falling behind

Massachusetts transportation infastructure in need of significant repair and investment.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

New National Safety Council Data Show 20% Percent Increase in Motor-Vehicle Fatalities in Massachusetts Compared to 2015

 

New data released from the National Safety Council (NSC), a nonprofit, non- governmental public service organization chartered by Congress to promote health and safety in the United States, found a troubling increase in the number of motor-vehicle fatalities during the first half of 2016.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Transportation

Fifteen Organizations Support Complaint Filed Over Eliminated MBTA Late-Night Service

Fifteen organizations have issued letters supporting the complaint filed to the Federal Transit Administration in July by the Conservation Law Foundation, Alternatives for Community and Environment and Greater Four Corners Action Coalition. The complaint asked the FTA to compel the MBTA to implement an alternative to the cancelled Late-Night Service that would reduce the disproportionately high and adverse effects cancelling Late-Night Service had on low-income and minority riders.

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Media Hit | Transportation

A Roadmap to Zero-Carbon Transportation

Our staff attorney Kirstie Pecci joined Tony Dutzik on BNN to discuss their vision for a zero-carbon transportation future.

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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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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
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

How Reliable Is the T?

HOW RELIABLE IS THE T?  On its “Back on Track Performance Dashboard,” the MBTA publishes daily reliability ratings. How accurate are they? Despite customer satisfaction surveys that indicate over 40 percent of riders find the T to be unreliable, the reliability ratings consistently hover around 90 percent. This report recommends improvements to the method the MBTA uses to calculate reliability that will lead to more accurate ratings.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

From Deceit to Transformation

Volkswagen (VW) perpetuated a fraud on the American people, deceiving consumers into believing that they were getting the best possible combination of performance and sustainability. But VW’s promises were nothing more than lies that significantly harmed our collective health and the health of our environment. As a result of the settlements that followed this fraud, an Environmental Mitigation Trust (EMT) was set up with $2.9 billion dollars to be distributed to states to reduce transportation emissions, with $75 million coming to Massachusetts. 

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

What's at Stake

A one percentage point decrease in driving below current growth rate projections would yield substantial economic, environmental, and public health benefits between now and 2030. Those benefits are expected to reach $2.3 billion a year, by 2030, and would be more than $20 billion cumulatively over the period. These savings would chiefly come from less money spent at the pump, less money spent on car collisions, less money spent on vehicle repair, and less money spent on road repair.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Millennials Want More Public Transportation | Sean Doyle

A new poll shows that access to public transportation is “very important” for Millennials in considering where to live and where to work.  The results support our research over the past few years that found Millennials are driving less than older generations and are more prone to walk, bike, or take transit to get where they need to go.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Transportation: Historic Snowfall Reveals We Have a Long Way To Go | Kirstie Pecci

This week Transportation for Massachusetts, the Conservation Law Foundation and MASSPIRG released their second progress report on funding and reforms created by the Transportation Finance Act of 2013. The report, Keeping on Track: Our Second Progress Report on Reforming and Funding Transportation Since Passage of the Massachusetts Transportation Finance Act of 2013, evaluates the progress made and the challenges that have arisen since enacting that law.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Night Owl Service -- Let's Use It So We Don't Lose It | Kirstie Pecci

The MBTA is beginning a one-year pilot program tonight that will run the subway and key bus routes for an additional hour and a half on Friday and Saturday nights. As with any pilot program, however, if we don't use it, we're going to lose it.

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Blog Post | Transportation

PIRG's Phineas Baxandall to speak at the Harvard Kennedy School | Kirstie Pecci

“Transportation and the New Generation: Is the Driving Boom Over?" 

Wed, Nov 20 4:30-6:00pm Taubman 401 (HKS)

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund

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?

Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund

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.

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

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.

Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund

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. 

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