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 | GoEV City coalition | Transportation

At Drive Electric Week Event, Advocates Release New Guide to Help Cities Plug In

Environmental, energy efficiency, and consumer advocates gathered on Wednesday at Denver's National Drive Electric Week event to call on all Colorado cities and counties to become a GoEV City and lead the charge to an electric vehicle future. The coalition is calling on cities and counties to make bold commitments to transition towards an all-electric future. To help cities and counties make the commitment, the coalition released the GoEV City toolkit, a catalog of local policies, strategies and programs designed to make it easy for cities and counties to make robust commitments around electric vehicles and advance toward a transportation system with zero tailpipe emissions and huge consumer savings. 

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News Release | CoPIRG Foundation | Transportation

CoPIRG Condemns Rollback of Fuel Economy Standards

In response to the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s proposal to roll back national fuel economy standards and strip the rights of states to adopt their own strong emissions standards, Danny Katz, Director of CoPIRG Foundation, released the following statement: “We are outraged and extremely disappointed. Fuel economy standards make cars more efficient, saving Coloradans money at the pump year-after-year. The Trump Administration’s action sucks money out of the wallets of Coloradans and Colorado businesses. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 4

America's infrastructure is in rough shape. Many of our roads, bridges, and transit systems are aging and in need of repair. Yet, year after year, state and local governments propose billions of dollars' worth of new and expanded highways that do little to reduce congestion or address real transportation challenges, while diverting scarce funding from repairs and 21st century priorities. This report profiles nine highway projects that epitomize the need for a fresh approach to transportation spending.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Electric Buses: Clean Transportation for Healthier Neighborhoods and Cleaner Air

Buses play a key role in in our nation’s transportation system, carrying millions of children daily to and from school and moving millions of Americans each day around our cities. Buses reduce the number of individual cars on our roads, make our communities more livable and sustainable, and provide transportation options for people of all ages and abilities. Yet, the majority of America’s buses remain dirty – burning fossil fuels like diesel that put the health of our children and communities at risk and contribute to global warming.

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Report | CoPIRG Foundation, Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center, Frontier Group | Transportation

Electric Buses

Buses play a key role in in our nation’s transportation system, carrying millions of children daily to and from school and moving millions of Americans each day around our cities. Buses reduce the number of individual cars on our roads, make our communities more livable and sustainable, and provide transportation options for people of all ages and abilities. Yet, the majority of America’s buses remain dirty – burning fossil fuels like diesel that put the health of our children and communities at risk and contribute to global warming:

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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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News Release | CoPIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Report Finds Drivers Pay Less Than Half the Cost of Roads

With the nation’s primary federal transportation funding source set to expire this month and a number of state level funding proposals failing to pass before the state legislature adjourned, a new report from the CoPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group breaks the myth around who actually pays for roads in Colorado. The new report, “Who Pays for Roads?” finds that drivers currently pay less than half the total cost of roads and the average household pays $597 a year over and above any gas taxes or other fees they pay when they drive.

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News Release | CoPIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Report Ranks Denver 8th Among 70 Major American Cities For High-Tech Transportation Options

A new report from the CoPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group ranks American cities on how many new technology-enabled services and tools they have to meet transportation needs. It finds that Denver ranks 8th among the nation’s 70 largest cities.

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News Release | CoPIRG 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, which will help avoid wasting billions of dollars for unnecessary highway expansion.

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News Release | CoPIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Study: Traffic Data Does Not Support Current Plans to Spend $153 Million to Add Lanes on Colorado Route 470

A new report by the CoPIRG Foundation identifies state plans to add lanes on Route-470 as a national example of wasteful highway spending based on outdated assumptions. The study calls for instead investing scarce transportation dollars to better maintain existing roads and provide more transportation choices such as expanding transit and bike paths.

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Blog Post

Following a summer of record ozone pollution days in Colorado, school districts share the stories about how the first electric school buses found their way to the roads  in Boulder and Kremmling.  I joined experts from those districts as well as Mothers Out Front to highlight the health and climate impacts of diesel school buses, and how electric school buses are the path forward.

Blog Post

As emissions from gas-powered vehicles pollute our air and warm our planet, cities and counties are leading the way to a cleaner transportation future in Colorado. I joined experts from five GoEV Cities and Counties to highlight strategic policies driving them towards a 100% electric-powered transportation reality. 

News Release | CoPIRG Foundation

CoPIRG Foundation staff gathered at an overlook of the dirty-air shrouded Denver skyline to highlight to the Colorado congressional delegation the urgency of going big on climate change and tackling the unhealthy ozone alert days millions of Coloradans have been exposed to this summer.

Blog Post

I spoke with leaders in Lone Tree, Englewood, Centennial, Morrison, Nederland, the City of Boulder, Boulder County, Arapahoe County, Northglenn and Denver about the Safer Main Streets projects in their areas. Here's what they said about how this refreshing CDOT program will impact the streets that run through the hearts of our communities.

News Release | CoPIRG

The Denver Metro and North Front Range areas missed another key deadline on Tuesday to meet ozone pollution air quality standards set by the federal government.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave the Denver Metro and the North Front Range (DMNFR) a deadline until July 20, 2021 to meet a 2008 standard. These areas were already considered in “Serious” nonattainment for exceeding the pollution standards. Ozone pollution data from the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division indicate that the DMNFR exceeded ozone levels at multiple monitors between 2018 and 2020.   

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