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

News Release | U.S.PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay, Transportation

Framework for VW Settlement Announced

Statement by Mike Litt, Consumer Program Advocate at U.S. PIRG Education Fund, on todays announced VW settlement. For more details on what a strong settlement agreement ought to look like, please see the open letter that we released earlier this week with other consumer and environmental groups.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Owning Fewer Cars Isn’t Just For Millennials | Sean Doyle

New transportation options are making it easier for people to use transit more, own fewer cars, and even save money on transportation.

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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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News Release | CoPIRG and Colorado Association of Transit Agencies (CASTA)

On Monday, Colorado kicks off the largest zero-fare transit program in the country with 30 agencies poised to waive fares all day, every day of August. Combined, the agencies participating have an average monthly ridership of over 5.8 million trips. 

Blog Post

Many communities were cut off by highway projects. A new program aims to help.

Blog Post

High gas prices are not going anywhere soon, thanks to the supply shocks from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Some Americans might be able to switch to bikes or public transportation to avoid the worst of this crisis. But even for those in rural areas who cannot practically or safely make that switch, there are still alternatives.

Blog Post

Transit will be free all day, every day in August for every RTD train, bus and shuttle. This one-month pilot presents an incredible opportunity to make a significant impact on people’s lives in the short-run and to build momentum for a significant improvement in transit in the long-run. That is, if we all get on board. 

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CoPIRG Foundation is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.