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

Blog Post | Transportation

Millennials Want More Public Transportation | Sean Doyle

A new poll shows that access to public transportation is “very important” for Millennials in considering where to live and where to work.  The results support our research over the past few years that found Millennials are driving less than older generations and are more prone to walk, bike, or take transit to get where they need to go.

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Blog Post | Transportation

How Deadly are Your State’s Roads? | Sean Doyle

A new report by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows which states have the safest and most dangerous roads.  Here's how the states rank and what we can do about it.

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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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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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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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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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