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.

Issue updates

Media Hit | Transportation

Technology driving younger generations' shift away from cars, study finds

New car-sharing services, travel applications and other technological tools are contributing to the broader shift away from driving among Americans, especially younger ones interested in digital multitasking on the go, according to a study released Tuesday by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

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Media Hit | Transportation

New study finds technology enabling Americans to drive less

A new study finds technology is enabling Americans to drive less. "The Internet and mobile communications devices, like the I-Phone, have enabled a new array of ways to get around or navigate transportation options," said Joanna Guy, Program Associate, Maryland PIRG.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Study Finds Technology Enabling Americans to Drive Less

In a first-of-its-kind study, Maryland PIRG compiled nation-wide evidence on transportation apps and vehicle sharing programs, like Zipcar, and found that these advanced new tools have made it easier for Americans to drive less. Real-time apps and on-board wi-fi for public transit, as well as carsharing, bikesharing and ridesharing have spread rapidly in recent years. The report examines new evidence on how these practices are changing travel behavior.

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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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Blog Post | Transportation

Governor O’Malley On Board for Baltimore Public Transit | Emily Scarr

Yesterday, Governor O’Malley outlined a $1.5 billion, 6-year transportation plan for Baltimore that includes major investment in modern public transportation infrastructure. Maryland PIRG thanks the Governor for a commitment today that reflects and supports the way Marylanders want to travel, investing in the 21st century public transportation infrastructure that we have long awaited.

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News Release | Transportation

Traffic congestions badly hurts baltimore area

Commuters in the Baltimore area wasted 30 million hours of additional time on the roads, and 19 million gallons of additional gas as a result of traffic congestion in 2005. The additional wasted time and fuel cost the public an equivalent of $426 million, according to the federally sponsored Urban Mobility Report released today by the Texas Transportation Institute. The findings underscore the need for additional transit in the region.

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