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

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

MBTA to Riders: TAKE A HIKE | Kirstie Pecci

The MBTA's Fiscal Management and Control Board votes to raise fares by almost 10%. Citizens express outrage by taking over the meeting.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Kirstie Pecci and John Olivieri discuss how to reduce driving in Massachusetts on BNN

MASSPIRG's Kirstie Pecci and John Olivieri discuss their new report What's at Stake and how to reduce driving in Massahusetts with Chris Lovett on BNN. 

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Media Hit | Transportation

Boston's MBTA plan for later service is a welcome switch

Night Owl service is coming back! Beginning next spring, the MBTA will be running selected buses and trains util 3 a.m. on weekends.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group | Transportation

Report Shows Boston Driving Less

Report "Transportation In Transition:  A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America's Biggest Cities" shows Boston driving less, reducing car commuting and making gains in biking.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Let's not miss chance to revive Night Owl

"Let's not miss chance to revive Night Owl," Letter to the Editor 

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Media Hit | Transportation

Let's not miss chance to revive Night Owl

"Let's not miss chance to revive Night Owl," Letter to the Editor 

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Media Hit | Transportation

Let's not miss chance to revive Night Owl

"Let's not miss chance to revive Night Owl," Letter to the Editor 

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Report | MASSPIRG | Transportation

A New Direction

The Driving Boom—a six decade-long period of steady increases in per-capita driving in the United States—is over.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Transportation and the New Generation

The trend away from steady growth in driving is likely to be long-lasting—even once the economy recovers. Young people are driving less for a host of reasons—higher gas prices, new licensing laws, improvements in technology that support alternative transportation, and changes in Generation Y’s values and preferences—all factors that are likely to have an impact for years to come.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Common Connections

College students and senior citizens account for more than one out of every five Massachusetts residents and share a need for high-quality alternatives to driving—particularly public transportation.

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High-Speed Rail: Public, Private or Both?

High-speed rail public-private partnerships and efforts toward rail privatization abroad have a mixed track record. This report reviews a number of international cases of better and worse cases of contracting in Europe and Asia.

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Waiting for a Ride

nevitably, aging experts note, a large share will find that their ability to navigate by vehicle diminishes or disappears over time. These millions of older adults will need affordable alternatives to driving alone in order to maintain their independence as long as possible.

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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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