21st Century Transportation

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

Reforming our broken transportation system

Changing Transportation: TexPIRG's series of reports on the dramatic changes underway in how Americans want to get around.

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.

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

Issue updates

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Texas has most ‘Highway Boondoggles’ of any state in the nation: report

Texas has been singled out as the state with the highest number of egregious highway boondoggle projects in a new report by TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. Despite boasting one of the most extensive highway systems of any state in the country and huge budget shortfalls caused by COVID-19, Texas is planning to spend nearly $3 billion to expand Loop 1604 in San Antonio and build the Southeast Connector in Fort Worth.
These two new boondoggle projects join a list of two other already active boondoggles for a total of eight in the last decade--three more than any other state.
“Texas really needs to get its act together,” said Bay Scoggin, director of the Texas Public Interest Research Group. “TxDoT is already billions of dollars in debt, with billions more on the way, and they still insist on throwing good money after bad, investing more in proven failures. These projects lead to more pollution, more gridlock and more budget shortfalls."

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Nader's "Unsafe At Any Speed" 55th Anniversary! | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, on the 55th anniversary of Ralph Nader's landmark "Unsafe at Any Speed," about the built-in dangers of 1960s cars, as exemplified by the General Motors Corvair, his colleagues led by Joan Claybrook have published a new report: "Safer Vehicles and Highways: 4.2 million U.S. Lives Spared Since 1966." The report makes recommendations to President-elect Joe Biden about how to revitalize and strengthen the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which Claybrook ran during the Jimmy Carter administration.

> Keep Reading
News Release | TexPIRG | Transportation

Austin passes Prop A, bringing light rail to Austin

AUSTIN-- With 58% support in the early vote, Austinites have unofficially passed Proposition A, the ballot measure that will revolutionize getting around Austin. Prop A gives a green light to Project Connect,  bringing two new, all-electric light rail lines, a downtown station and tunnel, improvements to current express routes, more electric buses and hundreds of millions of dollars in affordable housing investments. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New report: COVID-19 pandemic worsens existing consumer problems with car buying

Consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding vehicle loans and leases have increased sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by the TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. The analysis suggests that consumers in Texas and across the United States are facing abusive and deceptive practices from the automobile lending industry.  

“Personal car ownership was once a symbol of freedom in the United States. Now, for too many Americans, owning a vehicle isn’t a choice, but an expensive necessity,” said Bay Scoggin, Director of TexPIRG Education Fund. “That’s why making it easier to get around without a car, including by building more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly infrastructure and improving the cost and availability of public transit, is an important step to help Americans reduce their exposure to auto debt.”

> Keep Reading
News Release | TexPIRG | Transportation

Austin's choice: Project Connect for clean transportation, fewer global warming emissions

More than a dozen environmental groups gathered online today to show their support for Project Connect, and the associated ballot measure, Proposition A. 

The Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG), which organized the event, released research detailing the climate benefits of the proposed public transit investment. The two new urban light rail lines, the improvements to express bus lines, new park and rides, and a downtown tunnel, would all lead to a carbon reduction equivalent to planting more than 50,000 acres of forest, roughly a fourth of the city. 

“For the first time in Austin, climate change is officially on the ballot,” said Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG Director. “Voters have the opportunity to invest in a generational shift in how we get around town, giving us far more clean, green mobility options. Along with the other environmental leaders here today, TexPIRG is proud to endorse Proposition A.”

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Texas has most ‘Highway Boondoggles’ of any state in the nation: report

Texas has been singled out as the state with the highest number of egregious highway boondoggle projects in a new report by TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. Despite boasting one of the most extensive highway systems of any state in the country and huge budget shortfalls caused by COVID-19, Texas is planning to spend nearly $3 billion to expand Loop 1604 in San Antonio and build the Southeast Connector in Fort Worth.
These two new boondoggle projects join a list of two other already active boondoggles for a total of eight in the last decade--three more than any other state.
“Texas really needs to get its act together,” said Bay Scoggin, director of the Texas Public Interest Research Group. “TxDoT is already billions of dollars in debt, with billions more on the way, and they still insist on throwing good money after bad, investing more in proven failures. These projects lead to more pollution, more gridlock and more budget shortfalls."

> Keep Reading
News Release | TexPIRG | Transportation

Austin passes Prop A, bringing light rail to Austin

AUSTIN-- With 58% support in the early vote, Austinites have unofficially passed Proposition A, the ballot measure that will revolutionize getting around Austin. Prop A gives a green light to Project Connect,  bringing two new, all-electric light rail lines, a downtown station and tunnel, improvements to current express routes, more electric buses and hundreds of millions of dollars in affordable housing investments. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New report: COVID-19 pandemic worsens existing consumer problems with car buying

Consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding vehicle loans and leases have increased sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by the TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. The analysis suggests that consumers in Texas and across the United States are facing abusive and deceptive practices from the automobile lending industry.  

“Personal car ownership was once a symbol of freedom in the United States. Now, for too many Americans, owning a vehicle isn’t a choice, but an expensive necessity,” said Bay Scoggin, Director of TexPIRG Education Fund. “That’s why making it easier to get around without a car, including by building more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly infrastructure and improving the cost and availability of public transit, is an important step to help Americans reduce their exposure to auto debt.”

> Keep Reading
News Release | TexPIRG | Transportation

Austin's choice: Project Connect for clean transportation, fewer global warming emissions

More than a dozen environmental groups gathered online today to show their support for Project Connect, and the associated ballot measure, Proposition A. 

The Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG), which organized the event, released research detailing the climate benefits of the proposed public transit investment. The two new urban light rail lines, the improvements to express bus lines, new park and rides, and a downtown tunnel, would all lead to a carbon reduction equivalent to planting more than 50,000 acres of forest, roughly a fourth of the city. 

“For the first time in Austin, climate change is officially on the ballot,” said Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG Director. “Voters have the opportunity to invest in a generational shift in how we get around town, giving us far more clean, green mobility options. Along with the other environmental leaders here today, TexPIRG is proud to endorse Proposition A.”

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 5

America’s aging roads and bridges need fixing. Our car-dependent transportation system is dangerous, harms our communities, and is the nation’s leading source of global warming pollution. And more than ever before, it is clear that America needs to invest in giving people healthier, more sustainable transportation options.

> Keep Reading
Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Blueprint for Tomorrow

INFRASTRUCTURE IS AT THE HEART of America’s greatest challenges. The infrastructure investments made by generations past have contributed to improved health and welfare, and to the nation’s unparalleled economic prosperity. But the infrastructure decisions of the past have also cast a long shadow, leaving America to deal with the burden of lead water pipes that jeopardize our children’s health, fossil fuel pipelines that contribute to global warming, and transportation and solid waste infrastructure that no longer serve today’s needs.

> Keep Reading
Report | TexPIRG | Transportation

Paying for Electric Buses

Most of America’s school and transit buses run on diesel, a highly-polluting fuel, but there is a better option. All-electric buses are here, and they’re cleaner, healthier and save money for transit agencies, school districts and bus contractors to run in the long-term. Diesel is internationally recognized as a dangerous carcinogen, and diesel exhaust contributes to several respiratory illnesses, including asthma. Children are particularly susceptible to the negative health effects of diesel exhaust because their lungs are still developing.

> Keep Reading
Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 4

> Keep Reading
Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Electric Buses

More than 60 percent of the transit buses run on diesel, while just 0.2 percent of buses are all-electric. Numerous studies have shown that inhaling diesel exhaust can cause respiratory diseases and worsen existing conditions such as asthma. Diesel exhaust from buses poses a particular public health risk; buses primarily travel where there are lots of people, including in the more densely-crowded areas of cities, on the busiest roads, and near schools.

 

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Transportation

Nader's "Unsafe At Any Speed" 55th Anniversary! | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, on the 55th anniversary of Ralph Nader's landmark "Unsafe at Any Speed," about the built-in dangers of 1960s cars, as exemplified by the General Motors Corvair, his colleagues led by Joan Claybrook have published a new report: "Safer Vehicles and Highways: 4.2 million U.S. Lives Spared Since 1966." The report makes recommendations to President-elect Joe Biden about how to revitalize and strengthen the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which Claybrook ran during the Jimmy Carter administration.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Transportation

Riding a bus, subway or rideshare? Here’s a look at safety measures adopted to combat COVID-19 | Jacob van Cleef

From mask mandates to capacity limits, the largest public transit systems and ride share companies have new procedures

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

CAMPO approves $633 million funding diversion for highway boondoggle | Lauren Banister

On Monday, April 20th, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) voted to divert funding from approved mobility improvement projects to fill a $633 million funding gap in the I-35 reconstruction project.  Lauren Banister, TexPIRG Transportation Associate, offered testimony at the meeting.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

The cyclist’s dilemma: How safety, climate and air pollution collide on America’s roadways | Matt Casale

Walkers and bikers are getting killed at alarming rates -- at a time when we need this type of transportation more than ever. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Solving the vehicle pollution crisis will take 'a little bit from everybody'

The soot and smog spewed by cars and trucks affects all of us. And we all have a part to play in the solution.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Transportation

Solving the vehicle pollution crisis will take 'a little bit from everybody'

The soot and smog spewed by cars and trucks affects all of us. And we all have a part to play in the solution.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Electrify METRO Coalition Letter | Bay Scoggin

Dear Chair Patman,

We write you today to urge METRO to transition its buses to a clean, all-electric fleet.

We applaud the work METRO employees do every day, safely carrying thousands of people, including many who cannot or do not wish to drive, to work, school and more. METRO buses and light rail are playing a critical role in reducing traffic and air pollution. Furthermore, we appreciate the efforts METRO has taken to convert buses to hybrid technology, limit idling, and initiate an electric bus pilot program. 

However, most METRO buses are still powered by diesel—a dirty fossil fuel that gives off toxic emissions—endangering the health of the people who ride them and contributing to global warming. 

The good news is we have the technology to start building cleaner, healthier cities and neighborhoods. Dramatic declines in battery costs and improvements in performance, including expanded driving range, have made electric buses a viable alternative to diesel-powered and other fossil fuel buses. 

Replacing all of METRO’s diesel-powered transit buses with electric buses could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 43 million pounds each year. 

Electric buses can also be more affordable than fossil fuel buses in the long run, since they have 30 percent fewer parts, no exhaust systems, their braking systems last longer, and they don’t require oil changes or fossil fuels. Over the lifetime of the bus, an electric transit bus can avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars in operating costs over an equivalent diesel or natural gas bus, from lower fuel and maintenance costs. 

We urge you to no longer purchase any more diesel buses. Putting new diesel buses on the road today will pollute our city for at least twelve more years. Instead, as buses are ready to be retired, please replace them with clean electric ones.

The Houston region is receiving $32 million from the Volkswagen Settlement funds, but that money is yet to be dispersed. This is a great opportunity for METRO to start transitioning to clean electric buses. 

 

We look forward to working with you to one day give all Houstonians the opportunity for a “whisper-quiet, green ride.”

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Solid Waste, Transportation

Before we spend $2 trillion, report recommends a 'Blueprint for Tomorrow'

For all of us who rely on our roads and public transit, and our water, sewage and power systems, the agreement reached by President Trump and Democratic congressional leaders in May to commit $2 trillion to infrastructure should be good news.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Make VW Pay, Transportation

Some states are spending funds from VW 'Dieselgate' settlement on diesel

When it comes to clean transportation, most U.S. states are underutilizing funds from Volkswagen’s nearly $3 billion settlement with federal authorities for violating emissions standards.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Our 'Driving into Debt' report highlights the impact of risky auto loans and car ownership

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.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund

Texas has been singled out as the state with the highest number of egregious highway boondoggle projects in a new report by TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. Despite boasting one of the most extensive highway systems of any state in the country and huge budget shortfalls caused by COVID-19, Texas is planning to spend nearly $3 billion to expand Loop 1604 in San Antonio and build the Southeast Connector in Fort Worth.
These two new boondoggle projects join a list of two other already active boondoggles for a total of eight in the last decade--three more than any other state.
“Texas really needs to get its act together,” said Bay Scoggin, director of the Texas Public Interest Research Group. “TxDoT is already billions of dollars in debt, with billions more on the way, and they still insist on throwing good money after bad, investing more in proven failures. These projects lead to more pollution, more gridlock and more budget shortfalls."

Blog Post

Today, on the 55th anniversary of Ralph Nader's landmark "Unsafe at Any Speed," about the built-in dangers of 1960s cars, as exemplified by the General Motors Corvair, his colleagues led by Joan Claybrook have published a new report: "Safer Vehicles and Highways: 4.2 million U.S. Lives Spared Since 1966." The report makes recommendations to President-elect Joe Biden about how to revitalize and strengthen the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which Claybrook ran during the Jimmy Carter administration.

News Release | TexPIRG

AUSTIN-- With 58% support in the early vote, Austinites have unofficially passed Proposition A, the ballot measure that will revolutionize getting around Austin. Prop A gives a green light to Project Connect,  bringing two new, all-electric light rail lines, a downtown station and tunnel, improvements to current express routes, more electric buses and hundreds of millions of dollars in affordable housing investments. 

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund

Consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding vehicle loans and leases have increased sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by the TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. The analysis suggests that consumers in Texas and across the United States are facing abusive and deceptive practices from the automobile lending industry.  

“Personal car ownership was once a symbol of freedom in the United States. Now, for too many Americans, owning a vehicle isn’t a choice, but an expensive necessity,” said Bay Scoggin, Director of TexPIRG Education Fund. “That’s why making it easier to get around without a car, including by building more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly infrastructure and improving the cost and availability of public transit, is an important step to help Americans reduce their exposure to auto debt.”

News Release | TexPIRG

More than a dozen environmental groups gathered online today to show their support for Project Connect, and the associated ballot measure, Proposition A. 

The Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG), which organized the event, released research detailing the climate benefits of the proposed public transit investment. The two new urban light rail lines, the improvements to express bus lines, new park and rides, and a downtown tunnel, would all lead to a carbon reduction equivalent to planting more than 50,000 acres of forest, roughly a fourth of the city. 

“For the first time in Austin, climate change is officially on the ballot,” said Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG Director. “Voters have the opportunity to invest in a generational shift in how we get around town, giving us far more clean, green mobility options. Along with the other environmental leaders here today, TexPIRG is proud to endorse Proposition A.”

Transportation

Texas is the nation's worst offender for wasteful highway 'boondoggles'

According to a report by TexPIRG Education Fund, Texas has the nation’s most proposed highway expansion projects. Research has found these “boondoggles” tend to exacerbate traffic congestion — and the funding they require could instead go toward more effective transportation solutions, such as road repair and increased transit.

 

Transportation

In Austin, cleaner transit is on the horizon

In the November general elections, thanks in large part to TexPIRG’s advocacy and outreach, Austin passed Proposition A. The measure will fund the long-awaited Project Connect, which will bring two new, all-electric light rail lines, improvements to current express routes, and more. The plan is estimated to reduce carbon emissions in Austin's air by 43,000 tons annually.

 

Transportation

Austin approves big expansion in clean, electric public transit

The Austin City Council and Capital Metro board of directors have unanimously approved the TexPIRG-backed Project Connect System Plan, which would dramatically expand the city's light rail transit system, its fleet of zero-emission electric buses and the routes those buses take.

 

Transportation

House transportation bill prioritizes fixing infrastructure, sustainable investment

Federal lawmakers have put forward the INVEST in America Act — a nearly $500 billion transportation spending bill which prioritizes repairing existing infrastructure over new highway projects, and contains key provisions for more sustainable investments.

 
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