Transit Not Traffic
INVESTING IN TRANSPORTATION INFRASRUCTURE—Maryland has some of the worst traffic in the country, it's time for our leaders to invest in transportation infrastructure that would reduce congestion, improve air quality and serve communities in need, instead of dumping money into wasteful new highway projects.
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.
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.
The amount of money Americans owe on their cars is now at an all-time high -- up 75 percent since the end of 2009. Americans’ rising indebtedness for cars raises concerns about the financial future of millions of households as lenders extend credit to more and more Americans without the ability to repay, according to a new Maryland PIRG report .
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.
How is the Northeast and mid-Atlantic taking on the largest source of planet-warming, climate-changing pollution?
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.
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.
Tools & Resources
HB 1185: Maryland Transit Administration- Annual Efficiency and Performance Standards
Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America's FutureMaryland PIRG Foundation
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