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

Connecting the Commonwealth

Public transportation makes a vital contribution to Massachusetts transportation system, relieving congestion, reducing our dependence on oil, curbing pollution, stimulating the economy, and helping to sustain healthy, vibrant communities.

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Squandering the Stimulus

Nothing illustrates how the lack of transportation options hurts consumers and our economy more than the fact that, since approval of the tax rebates in February, Americans on average have already spent the amount of their stimulus checks at the pump. We can reduce our crippling dependence on oil through long-term solutions that will make it easier for Americans to drive less. Modern buses, light rail, commuter rail and other forms of transit more efficiently move passengers with less fuel.

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A Better Way to Go

Meeting America's 21st Century Transportation Challenges with Modern Public Transit. America's automobile-centered transportation system was a key component of the nation's economic prosperity during the 20th century. But our transportation system is increasingly out of step with the challenges of the 21st century. Rising fuel prices, growing traffic congestion, and the need to address critical challenges such as global warming and America's addiction to imported oil all point toward the need for a new transportation future.

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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. 

Report | U.S. 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 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.

Report | MASSPIRG 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. The good news is that America can clean up its buses by making them electric. All-electric buses are here, and they’re cleaner, healthier and often cheaper for transit agencies, school districts and bus contractors to run in the long-term.

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