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: MASSPIRG Education Fund'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 MASSPIRG Education Fund 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 | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

As Electric Cars Revolutionize the Vehicle Market, New Study Helps Cities Address Infrastructure and Parking Challenges

With electric vehicles (EVs) hitting U.S. streets in record numbers, a new study by MASSPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group highlights best practices to help local officials make their cities as EV-friendly as possible. The new report, “Plugging In: Readying America’s Cities for the Arrival of Electric Vehicles,” includes local and state data for Boston and Massachusetts about the projected number of electric cars expected on the road in coming years, and how cities can accommodate these new EVs with enough places to park and recharge.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Plugging In: Readying America's Cities for the Arrival of Electric Vehicles

With electric vehicles (EVs) hitting U.S. streets in record numbers, this new study by MASSPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group highlights best practices to help local officials make their cities as EV-friendly as possible.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

How Reliable Is the T?

HOW RELIABLE IS THE T?  On its “Back on Track Performance Dashboard,” the MBTA publishes daily reliability ratings. How accurate are they? Despite customer satisfaction surveys that indicate over 40 percent of riders find the T to be unreliable, the reliability ratings consistently hover around 90 percent. This report recommends improvements to the method the MBTA uses to calculate reliability that will lead to more accurate ratings.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Boston's rush hour is starting earlier, lasting longer

MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Matt Casale appeared on Boston 25 News on September 5 to talk about our traffic problem.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

WITH MASSACHUSETTS PLEDGING TO COMPLY WITH GOALS OF PARIS AGREEMENT, NEW REPORT FINDS $75 MILLION IN VOLKSWAGEN SETTLEMENT FUNDS COULD HELP ACCELERATE ALL ELECTRIC TRANSPORTATION REVOLUTION

A new report from the MASSPIRG Education Fund finds that $75 million from the Volkswagen (VW) settlement is headed to Massachusetts to help clean up the country’s transportation system and strongly recommends using the funds to purchase electric vehicle fast charging stations for highways along with an aggressive expansion of all-electric transit buses to replace aging, dirty, diesel buses. The report finds the state could supply between 112 and 224 additional fast charging stations, and could purchase around 79 all-electric, zero-emissions buses, reducing dangerous pollution and saving money, all while accelerating market transformation to an all-electric transportation system. 

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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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Media Hit | Transportation

Kirstie Pecci and John Olivieri discuss how to reduce driving in Massachusetts on BNN

MASSPIRG's Kirstie Pecci and John Olivieri discuss their new report What's at Stake and how to reduce driving in Massahusetts with Chris Lovett on BNN. 

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Media Hit | Transportation

Boston.com Morning Show interviews John Olivieri on What's at Stake

MASSPIRG's John Olivieri talked with Kim Carrigan of Boston.com's Morning Show about our new report, What's at Stake, and the benefits reduced driving will have for Massachusetts.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report Finds Small Decrease in Driving Would Save Bay Staters more than $20 Billion by 2030

A new report released today documents a potential savings of more than $20 billion for the Commonwealth’s residents and state budget. Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA) and the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group Education Fund released their study on the benefits of reduced driving in the Commonwealth. The report finds that even small reductions in driving would yield substantial benefits between now and 2030. 

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Media Hit | Transportation

How much can Massachusetts save from driving less?

In a report to be released Monday, researchers say Massachusetts drivers can save about $2.3 billion annually if they hit the road just one percentage point less than they’re projected to drive from 2015 to 2030.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

What's at Stake

A one percentage point decrease in driving below current growth rate projections would yield substantial economic, environmental, and public health benefits between now and 2030. Those benefits are expected to reach $2.3 billion a year, by 2030, and would be more than $20 billion cumulatively over the period. These savings would chiefly come from less money spent at the pump, less money spent on car collisions, less money spent on vehicle repair, and less money spent on road repair.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Who Pays For Roads

Many Americans believe that drivers pay the full cost of the roads they use through gas taxes and other user fees. That has never been true, and it is less true now than at any other point in modern times. Today, general taxes paid by all tax- payers cover nearly as much of the cost of building and maintaining highways as the gas tax and other fees paid by drivers.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Keeping On Track

Keeping on Track provides you with updated information about the financial state of the Commonwealth's transportation system, completed statutory requirements, missed deadlines, and improvements made through new transportation investments.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

The Innovative Transportation Index

This report reviews the availability of 11 technology-enabled transportation services – including online ridesourcing, carsharing, ridesharing, taxi hailing, static and real-time transit information, multi-modal apps, and virtual transit ticketing – in 70 U.S. cities. It finds that residents of 19 cities, with a combined population of nearly 28 million people, have access to eight or more of these services, with other cities catching up rapidly.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

The Next MASSDOT

Massachusetts is at a pivotal moment with regard to transporation. In recent year, the Commonwealth has taken the first steps toward reversing the transportation system's long slide into debt and decay. Long-awaited reforms to transportation agencies are under way. Long-deferred projects to repair and modernize our transportation system are finally moving forward.

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News Release | MASSPIRG

 

In 2015, three Massachusetts school districts became among the first in the country to test electric school bus technology. A new report from MASSPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group highlights the districts’ experience, along with those of five other early adopters, illuminating the successes, challenges and lessons learned.

Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund

New report profiles six case studies of early electric bus adopters across the nation. By understanding common pitfalls and best practices, cities, agencies and school districts can ensure a smoother roll-out of electric buses, helping reduce climate pollution and protect public health.

Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund

Volkswagen was caught cheating emissions laws and settled with federal authorities. The settlement included nearly $3 billion for the Environmental Mitigation Trust. How well does Massachusetts rank on plans for investing VW mitigation trust funds in clean transportation projects?

Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund

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.

Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund

In much of America, access to a car is all but required to hold a job or lead a full and vibrant life. Generations of car-centric transportation policies – including lavish spending on roads, sprawl-inducing land use policies, and meager support for other modes of transportation – have left millions of Americans fully dependent on cars for daily living.

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MASSPIRG Education Fund 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 getting things done.