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.

Consider:

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.

Issue updates

Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Highway Boondoggle 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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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Maryland “Traffic Relief Plan” Makes National List of Highway Boondoggles, Will Cost $9 Billion

Making the list of national highway boondoggles is the proposed “Traffic Relief Plan” being pushed by Governor Larry Hogan. In total, the plan would cost $9 billion: $7.6 billion to add four new lanes to I-495 and I-270, and $1.4 billion to add four lanes to MD-295, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.  

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Electric Buses Can Reduce Families’ Exposure to Toxic Fumes

If Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) transitioned its entire fleet of 732 transit buses to all-electric vehicles, it could significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions each year and reduce toxic air pollution that creates a public health hazard. A new report from Maryland PIRG Foundation and Frontier Group, “Electric Buses: Clean Transportation for Healthier Neighborhoods and Cleaner Air,” shows that a full transition to electric buses by the MTA could avoid an average of 11,000 tons of climate-altering pollution each year -- the equivalent of taking 2,100 cars off the road.  

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health, Transportation

Electric Buses

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.

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MarylandPIRG Statement on Utilities’ Proposed Investment in Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

Utility companies in Maryland are proposing to spend $104 million to support a statewide network of electric vehicle charging stations. The program is intended to build out a network of 24,000 residential, workplace and public charging stations, constituting the nation’s largest except for California’s. Utility customers would be asked to pay 25 cents to 42 cents more a month to support the program, currently a proposal pending before the state’s Public Service Commission.

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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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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Report: University Campuses Are Transportation Trailblazers as Students Lead Shift From Driving

As Millennials lead a national shift away from driving, universities are giving students new options for getting around and becoming innovators in transportation policy, according to a new report released today. The report, titled, “A New Course: How Innovative University Programs Are Reducing Driving on Campus and Creating New Models for Transportation Policy,” was released by Maryland PIRG Foundation.

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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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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Tax, Transportation

Do Roads Pay for Themselves?

Highway advocates often claim that roads “pay for themselves,” with gasoline taxes and other charges to motorists covering—or nearly covering—the full cost of highway construction and maintenance. They are wrong.

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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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Blog Post | Transportation

A World Without Carbon Pollution – Closer Than You Might Think | John Olivieri

For many, a world without carbon pollution seems like a distant utopia. To some, this even seems unobtainable. The size and scope of the challenge before us can be daunting, yet, there is good news -- a world without carbon pollution is closer than you think.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Why Is Our Infrastructure So Terrible? | Sean Doyle

America is facing a $1.4 trillion infrastructure funding crisis. This isn't some distant problem; it's already having a real effect on everyday Americans.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Good Things Come to Those On Bikes | Sean Doyle

Pull the bike out of the closet, pump up those tires, and dust off the helmet because it's Bike to Work Week!

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Blog Post

Maryland PIRG support HB1091, introduced by Del. Jared Solomon to to ensure that we understand the environmental impacts and financial risks of large P3 highway expansion projects before entering into expensive, long-term contracts.

Blog Post

Talk about a captive market: For most of us, it's next to impossible to work, shop or go to school without a car. Auto lenders are taking full advantage.

Blog Post

Our testimony on HB1255 to support Electric School buses for Maryland.

Blog Post

Our testimony on SB788/HB695 to require the Maryland Department of Environment to conduct more thorough environmental reviews of major public-private partnership transportation projects.

News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation

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[1] .

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