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

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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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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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.   

Blog Post

Early Wednesday evening, Colorado’s utility regulator gave a greenlight to our largest utility’s Transportation Electrification Plan, a proposal to invest millions in electric vehicle infrastructure. As we wait for the details, one thing is clear - this is one of the biggest actions taken this year in Colorado to tackle climate change and it will bring big consumer benefits for years to come.

Blog Post

On September 18th, 2015, the world learned VW had misled hundreds of thousands of people into buying dirty, diesel vehicles designed to avoid emissions standards. Five years later, we looked back at our campaign to hold VW accountable and highlighted how tens of millions of dollars from a legal settlement and a customer “buy back” program has helped Coloradans head toward a cleaner, electric-powered future.

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