21st Century Transportation

Efficient public transportation systems like intercity rail and clean bus systems would make America’s transportation future better for everyone by reducing traffic congestion and pollution, and increasing our options for getting around.

Public transit, biking and walking for the future

Changing Transportation: CoPIRG Foundation's series of reports on the dramatic changes underway in how Americans travel.

Americans are increasingly looking for more and better options to get around — options like expanded public transit, better biking alternatives, walkable neighborhoods and high-performance intercity trains. But while our transportation preferences are changing, too often our transportation policies are stuck in the past. 

Our work has helped to educate the public about the changing ways we get around and the need for policy reform to respond to and encourage further transformation. Our nation’s highway-focused transportation system leaves too many communities isolated from opportunity, creates too much pollution, causes health problems, and does a poor job of getting Americans where they want to go. While Americans increasingly want to live in communities with other ways to travel, our vision for a national transportation system is largely stuck in the 1950s. Instead of simply lurching from one funding crisis to the next, our nation needs to make smart choices that will prepare us for the 21st century. These include a forward-looking 21st century transportation system that serves more places, is more reliable, creates less pollution and reduces global warming emissions.

Some communities across the country are responding, implementing a vision for transportation that includes things like bridges designed for walkers, bikers, trains and streetcars, but not automobiles; bus stations that are also digital hot spots; smart traffic lights that communicate with cars, and other innovative solutions.

Through a series of well researched and eye opening reports, public outreach, and work with local coalitions and public officials, we've pushed for more forward-looking reforms. We’ve turned the tide against wasteful highway expansion boondoggles. We've encouraged Departments of Transportation to recognize and plan for a shift toward more balanced travel choices. We’ve demonstrated the enormous benefits that have been gained so far with reductions in the nation’s volume of driving. There’s much work ahead to promote new planning and policy approaches that accomplish these goals and CoPIRG Foundation is hard at work already. 

Check out our video showcasing our work to bring about better transportation options for America's future.


Issue updates

Media Hit | Transportation

12 of America's Biggest Highway Boondoggles

Given that expanding highways at great public cost doesn’t improve rush-hour traffic, there are better ways to spend this money, argue report authors Jeff Inglis of Frontier Group and John C. Olivieri of U.S. PIRG. They identify a dozen road projects, costing $24 billion in all, that are “representative” of the problem.

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News Release | CoPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Report: Widening I-70 in Denver Wastes at Least $58 Million

A new study by the CoPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group concludes that a proposal to widen I-70 while it undergoes much needed replacement will waste at least $58 million in taxpayer dollars. The highway widening project that cuts through a neighborhood in north Denver is one of 12 national highway widening projects slated to collectively waste at least $24 billion according to the study, Highway Boondoggles 2: More Wasted Money and America’s Transportation’s Future. 

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Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 2

Twelve proposed highway projects across the country – slated to cost at least $24 billion – exemplify the need for a fresh approach to transportation spending. These projects, some originally proposed decades ago, are either intended to address problems that do not exist or have serious negative impacts on surrounding communities that undercut their value. They are but a sampling of many questionable highway projects nationwide that could cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars to build, and many more billions over the course of upcoming decades to maintain.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Transportation policy is health policy | Sean Doyle

While transportation is often just thought of as how we get from point A to point B, the way we choose to do so can have important consequences on our physical health, air quality, safety, the development of our cities, and how we interact within them.

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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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Media Hit | Transportation

RAMBLIN' MAN: Transportation options sought as population increases

If you think the roads in El Paso County are bad now, just wait. The county's population is expected to balloon to nearly 1 million residents by the year 2040. .....

Alternatives to hitting the roads are available, there just aren't enough of them, says Danny Katz, director of Colorado Public Interest Group, a consumer advocacy group based in Denver.

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News Release | CoPIRG | Transportation

CoPIRG Releases Principles for Privatized Transportation Projects

As Colorado’s transportation officials pursue more and more “public-private partnerships” (PPPs) to help build and maintain roads and transit projects, CoPIRG released a set of principles that the public can use to determine if projects adequately protect the public interest. CoPIRG released the principles the week the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is holding public information sessions on a proposed PPP to build and maintain highway US 36.

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News Release | CoPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Denver Sees 9th Largest Drop in Driving Per Capita

A first-of-its-kind report by CoPIRG Foundation shows reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in Colorado’s largest urbanized areas, Denver and Colorado Springs. In addition, both cities saw greater use of public transit and Denver saw greater use in biking.

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News Release | CoPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Colorado Sees Double Digit Drop in Driving

Coloradans have cut their per-person driving miles by 11.4 percent since 2005, while the nation’s long term driving boom appears to have ended, according to a new report from the CoPIRG Foundation.  Colorado had the 6th largest drop of state and now ranks 14th for fewest vehicle miles traveled per person.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Group pushes for details on high speed rail from Colorado Springs to Denver

Imagine a 35-minute trip to downtown Denver from downtown Colorado Springs on a train that hits a top speed of 250 mph. The landscape blurs by. The coffee is piping. And gas prices are not a bother. It's an image that - at least conceptually - Colorado Springs residents like.

Colorado Public Interest Research Group wants to take that message to the Colorado Department of Transportation and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

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Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Moving Off the Road

This report for the first time presents government data on state-by-state driving trends. It analyzes which states drive more miles per-person, which states have reduced their driving the most since the end of the national Driving Boom, and how state changes in driving behavior correspond to other changes such as growing unemployment or urbanization.

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Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Infographic - New Direction for Transportation

This infographic illustrates the end of the Driving Boom.

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Report | CoPIRG | Transportation

New Direction

The Driving Boom—a six decade-long period of steady increases in per-capita driving in the United States—is over. This report reveals why and what the implications are.

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Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Transportation and the New Generation

From World War II until just a few years ago, the number of miles driven annually on America’s roads steadily increased. Then, at the turn of the century, something changed: Americans began driving less. By 2011, the average American was driving 6 percent fewer miles per year than in 2004. The trend away from driving has been led by young people.

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Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Budget, Tax, Transportation

Do Roads Pay for Themselves?

Highways do not – and, except for brief periods in our nation’s history, never have – paid for themselves through the taxes that highway advocates label “user fees.” Yet highway advocates continue to suggest they do in an attempt to secure preferential access to scarce public resources and to shape how those resources are spent.

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