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.

Reforming our broken transportation system

Changing Transportation: Maryland PIRG's series of reports on the dramatic changes underway in how Americans want to get around.

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. 

We need a transportation system that reflects and supports the way we want to travel now.

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.

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

Issue updates

Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection, Transportation

Driving Into Debt

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.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states band together to tackle transportation pollution

How is the Northeast and mid-Atlantic taking on the largest source of planet-warming, climate-changing pollution?

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Blog Post | Make VW Pay, Transportation

Our comments on the Maryland Volkswagen Draft Mitigation Plan | Emily Scarr

Earlier this month, the Hogan Administration released a draft plan to spend the $75 million Maryland is receiving as part of the Volkswagen emissions cheating settlement. We urge the Department to amend the plan to fully commit to electrification of our transportation system.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Transportation

Maryland Takes a Step Forward in the March Towards Transportation Electrification

In early August, Maryland released its draft plan to spend the $75 million it is receiving as part of the Volkswagen emissions cheating settlement. While it allocates the maximum allowable 15 percent ($11.3 million) to electric vehicle charging infrastructure and makes some money available for the purchase of electric buses, the plan still allows for much of the money to be used on new diesel or compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle replacements.

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Blog Post | Transportation

The Trump Administration’s Flawed Reasons for Rolling Back Clean Car Standards | Matt Casale

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.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Transportation

Statement on Amtrak Derailment

Statement by Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr on the May 12th Amtrak derailment along a curved stretch of track near Philadelphia. Reports indicate the train was traveling 106 miles per hour on a curve designated as safe for travel at 50 mph.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Transportation

New Report Finds Drivers Pay Less Than Half the Cost of Roads

As Congress struggles to renew the federal transportation law, a new report from the Maryland PIRG Foundation and Frontier Group finds that drivers currently pay less than half the total cost of roads, and argues that while increasing gas taxes could fill the shortfall, it would leave other problems unaddressed.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Transportation

New Report Ranks Baltimore 24th Among 70 Major American Cities For High-Tech Transportation Options

"The Innovative Transportation Index: The Cities Where New Technologies and Tools Can Reduce Your Need to Own a Car,” ranks Baltimore 24th amongst 70 major American cities in providing 11 different types of technology-enabled improvements including: carsharing, ridesharing, ridesourcing (like Uber and Lyft), taxi-hailing apps, bikesharing, and different forms of online and real time transit information and ticketing. 

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Federal Highway Administration Quietly Acknowledges the Driving Boom is Over

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has very quietly acknowledged that the Driving Boom is over, cutting its forecasted driving estimates by between 24 percent and 44 percent.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Media Release: New Report Shows Mounting Evidence of Millennials’ Shift Away from Driving

A new report from the Maryland Public Interest Research Group (Maryland PIRG) and Frontier Group shows mounting evidence that the Millennial generation’s dramatic shift away from driving is more than temporary. While the 2000s saw a marked decrease in the average number of miles traveled by young Americans, the study explains that those trends appear likely to continue even as the economy improves – in light of the consistency of Millennials’ surveyed preferences, a continued reduction of Millennials driving to work, and the continued decreases in per-capita driving among all Americans.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Transportation in Transition

Tranportation in Transition

 

Americans’ transportation habits have changed. The average American drives 7.6 percent fewer miles today than when per-capita driving peaked in 2004.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

A New Way to Go

America is in the midst of a technological revolution … and a big shift in our transportation habits.

Over the last 15 years, the Internet and mobile communications technologies have transformed the way Americans live and work. During that same period, growth in vehicle travel slowed and then stopped, with Americans today driving about as much on average as we did in 1996.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Moving Off the Road

After sixty years of almost constant increases in the annual number of miles Americans drive, since 2004 Americans have decreased their driving per-capita for eight years in a row. Driving miles per person are down especially sharply among Millennials, America’s largest generation that will increasingly dominate national transportation trends. But some skeptics have suggested that the apparent end of the Driving Boom might be just a temporary hiccup in the trend toward more driving for Americans.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

A New Direction

Americans drive fewer total miles today than we did eight years ago, and fewer per person than we did at the end of Bill Clinton’s first term. The unique combina­tion of conditions that fueled the Driving Boom—from cheap gas prices to the rapid expansion of the workforce during the Baby Boom generation—no longer exists. Meanwhile, a new generation—the Mil­lennials—is demanding a new American Dream less dependent on driving.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Transportation and the New Generation

During the second half of the 20th century, the total number of miles driven in America steadily increased. Then, at the turn of the century, the trend changed. Americans now drive less than we did in the mid-2000s—both in absolute and per-capita terms.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Letter to support Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act | Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG is proud to support the Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act onf 2018. We have signed onto this letter to Governor Hogan, President Miller, and Speaker Busch to advance this legislation that increases funding for the Maryland Transit Administration and the DC metropolitan-area Metro transit system to support upgrades and improvements for transit system and requires long term planning for regional Baltimore transit system.

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Blog Post | Transportation

To Build A 21st Century America, Start Here | Jeff Robinson

The stakes in the current infrastructure debate are high. But what matters most is not the size of any federal infrastructure package, nor how it is financed, nor even how many jobs it creates in the coming years. What matters most is building the infrastructure that will enable America to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Testimony on HB0271 - Maryland Transit Administration - Farebox Recovery, Goals, and Performance Indicators | Emily Scarr

Improving public transportation plays a key role in developing a 21st century transportation for the state. Unfortunately, current law impedes the Maryland Transit Administration from being able to adjust to the challenges of the 21st Century. This bill aims to fix that.

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Blog Post | Make VW Pay, Transportation

How Volkswagen’s Deceit Could Help Accelerate an Electric Revolution | Emily Scarr

The payout is part of an agreement reached between the U.S. Department of Justice and Volkswagen after the carmaker was caught selling more than half a million diesel vehicles in the U.S. that polluted up to 40 times the legal limit of dangerous nitrogen oxides (NOX). The entire settlement is worth up to $14.7 billion and will help compensate consumers and clean up our nation’s transportation system.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Clean Transportation Doesn’t Need To Be A Distant Utopia | John Olivieri

For many, when they think of combating global warming, they think of solar panels on rooftops and eliminating coal fired power plants. But, the truth is, there is not an effective solution to address global warming that does not deal with transportation as well.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG

Twelve states plus Washington, D.C. released new details today about a program to reduce global warming emissions from transportation. The Transportation and Climate Initiative will create an enforceable and mandatory limit on transportation pollution, and will generate funding that could be invested in cleaner alternatives. 

Blog Post

Walkers and bikers are getting killed at alarming rates -- at a time when we need this type of transportation more than ever. 

Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation

America’s aging roads and bridges need fixing. Our car-dependent transportation system is dangerous, harms our communities, and is the nation’s leading source of global warming pollution. And more than ever before, it is clear that America needs to invest in giving people healthier, more sustainable transportation options.

Blog Post

When it comes to clean transportation, most U.S. states are underutilizing funds from Volkswagen’s nearly $3 billion settlement with federal authorities for violating emissions standards.

Blog Post

For all of us who rely on our roads and public transit, and our water, sewage and power systems, the agreement reached by President Trump and Democratic congressional leaders in May to commit $2 trillion to infrastructure should be good news.

Transportation

12 states just announced plans to transform our transportation system

Transportation is the single largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S.—but Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, D.C., just released a plan to change that, called the Transportation Climate Initiative.

 

Transportation | U.S. PIRG

2018 was the deadliest year for cyclists since 1990

Seventeen pedestrians and two cyclists were killed every day, on average, in traffic crashes in 2018. PIRG Transform Transportation Campaign Director Matt Casale explains that cyclists face a dilemma: walking or biking are convenient and pollution-free modes of transportation, but they're also dangerous in a world that's been built car-first.

 

Transportation | U.S. PIRG

Get on the electric bus

A look at six early adopters of electric buses

 

Transportation | U.S. PIRG

Volkswagen settlement scorecard

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 our state rank on plans for investing VW mitigation trust funds in clean transportation projects?

 
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