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.

Moving Missouri Forward

Changing Transportation: U.S. PIRG's series of reports on the dramatic changes underway in how Americans travel.

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 | MoPIRG | Transportation

Vice President Biden Unveils Bold New High Speed Rail Plan

Statement of MoPIRG Federal Transportation Advocate, Dan Smith, who was an invited guest at Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood’s announcement that the administration plans to invest $53 billion over the next six years in high-speed rail.  

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News Release | MoPIRG | Transportation

Obama’s Goal: Connecting 80 Percent of Americans with High-Speed Rail

Statement of MoPIRG Transportation Associate Dan Smith on President Obama’s remarks on infrastructure as prepared to deliver in the State of the Union Address.

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Report | MoPIRG | Transportation

Connecting the Midwest: How a faster passenger rail network can speed travel and boost the economy

Intercity passenger rail in the Midwest can be part of the solution. The Midwestern states have put forward a bold vision for efficient, rapid passenger rail service linking the entire region. The federal government is allocating more than $2.7 billion in funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to bring that vision closer to reality with rail projects in six Midwestern states.

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News Release | MoPIRG | Transportation

New Report: High Speed Rail Part of Solution

A new report puts clear numbers and a clear vision on how high-speed rail will boost the Midwest economy, reduce highway and airport congestion, reduce dependence on oil, and protect the environment.  The report was released by MoPIRG today with Frank Steeves from Emerson Electric Co., Susan Stauder from the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, and representatives for Congressman Clay and congressman Carnahan.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Transportation

Road Work Ahead: Holding Government Accountable for Fixing America's Crumbling Roads and Bridges

The deterioration of our roads and bridges is no accident. Rather, it is the direct result of countless policy decisions that put other considerations ahead of the pressing need to preserve our investment in the highway system. Political forces often undermine a strong commitment to maintenance: Members of Congress, state legislators and local politicians thrive on ribbon-cuttings. Powerful special interests push for new and bigger highways.

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