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

Who Pays for the Roads

Many Americans believe that drivers pay the full cost of the roads they use through gas taxes and other user fees. That has never been true, and it is less true now than at any other point in modern times. Today, general taxes paid byall tax- payers cover nearly as much of the cost of building and maintaining highways as the gas tax and other fees paid by drivers.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Transportation

The Innovative Transportation Index

Rapid technological advances have enabled the creation of new transportation tools that make it possible for more Americans to live full and engaged lives without owning a car. Many of these new tools have been in existence for less than a decade – some for less than five years – but they have spread rapidly to cities across the United States.

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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 | Transportation

Public Transit Crucial for Maryland's Future

In the wake of Governor O’Malley’s announcement to spend nearly 40 percent of the first wave of infrastructure funds from the economic recovery package on transit projects, Maryland PIRG released today a report at Baltimore’s historic Penn Station to lay out the next steps in moving forward transportation projects that will help Marylanders spend less on gas, reduce traffic congestion, and curb our addiction to oil.

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News Release | Transportation

Congress Takes Big Step Toward 21st Century Transportation in Stimulus

In a bold and far-sighted move, Congress added $9.3 billion in the American Reinvestment and Economic Recovery Act for development of high speed rail and other intercity rail. This amount was large increase from the Senate version of the bill and came on top of $8.4 designated for other public transit agencies.

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News Release | Transportation

States Shut Public Transportation Out of Stimulus Plan

According to a 16-state study released today by Maryland PIRG, President-elect Obama’s stated intention to use investment in infrastructure to improve the economy and reduce oil consumption could be undermined if states spend transportation stimulus funds the way they have suggested in wish lists to Congress. The wish lists dramatically favor new highway projects over road & bridge repair and transit projects.

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News Release | Transportation

squandering the stimulus

Without sufficient alternatives to driving, American families spent their entire economic stimulus check on high-priced gas.  According to new analysis from the Maryland Public Interest Research Group, since President Bush signed the tax rebates into law on February 13th, the average household spent over $1500 filling their tanks. Gas costs were higher than average in areas without robust public transportation.

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News Release | Transportation

Local Leaders Cite New Report as Boosting MARC Expansion, Red Line

The MARC expansion and Red Line received a boost today as city officials and civic leaders held an event at Baltimore’s Penn Station calling for approval of financing and citing a major new report on oil savings and other benefits from public transportation across the country.

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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] .

Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation

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.

Blog Post

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

Blog Post

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.

News Release | Maryland PIRG

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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