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: OSPIRG 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 OSPIRG 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

Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

A New Course

How Innovative University Programs Are Reducing Driving on Campus and Creating New Models for Transportation Policy

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Report: University Campuses Are Transportation Trailblazers as Students Lead Shift From Driving

As Millennials lead a national shift away from driving, universities like the Oregon State University and the city of Corvallis are giving students new options for getting around and becoming innovators in transportation policy.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Report Shows Portland Driving Less, Using Transit and Alternatives More

A first-of-its-kind report by OSPIRG Foundation shows reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in Portland, and greater use of public transit and biking.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Transportation in Transition

OSPIRG Foundation's report, “Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities,” is the first ever national study to compare transportation trends for America’s largest cities.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Moving Off the Road

After sixty years of almost constant increases in the annual number of miles Americans drive, since 2004 Americans have decreased their driving per-capita for eight years in a row. This report for the first time presents government data on state-by-state driving trends. It analyzes which states drive more miles per-person, which states have reduced their driving the most since the end of the national Driving Boom, and how state changes in driving behavior correspond to other changes such as growing unemployment or urbanization. 

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Mad Men Make "Funny or Die" Video for High-Speed Rail

Two lead actors from the hit television show Mad Men throw their support behind high-speed rail in a humorous new online video posted today on Funnyordie.com.

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Media Hit | Transportation

A high speed agenda

The Register-Guard editorializes in support of Obama's proposed $53 billion investment in a national high-speed rail network.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Oregon must relax limits on use of money for road work

This opinion piece by former ODOT Rail Director Claudia Howells examines our broken transportation funding system.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

A New Direction

The Driving Boom—a six decade-long period of steady increases in per-capita driving in the United States—is over. The time has come for America to hit the “reset” button on transportation policy—replacing the policy infrastructure of the Driving Boom years with a more efficient, flexible and nimble system that is better able to meet the transportation needs of the 21st century.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Transportation and the New Generation

Federal and local governments have historically made massive investments in new highway capacity on the assumption that driving will continue to increase at a rapid and steady pace. The changing transportation preferences of young people—and Americans overall—throw those assumptions into doubt. The time has come for transportation policy to reflect the needs and desires of today’s Americans—not the worn-out conventional wisdom from days gone by.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax, Transportation

High-Speed Rail: Public Private or Both?

A report by OSPIRG Foundation's national office assessing the prospects, promise and pitfalls of public-private partnerships.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

How Speculation is Affecting Gasoline Prices Today

Excellent report by the Political Economy Research Institute

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Do Roads Pay for Themselves?

Disproves the common misperception that road building is paid for by user fees, otherwise known as the federal gas tax.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Rail: Neither Right Nor Left, But Forward | David Rosenfeld

From the Frontier Group blog: "I hate to call attention to George Will’s latest column – a psycho-political portrait that seeks to explain why liberals supposedly adore high-speed rail. It’s an asinine column, for sure. But it is asinine in a particularly instructive way. For while Will seeks to shine a light on the workings of the progressive mind, he winds up shining a light into his own – and into the minds of the current crop of rail haters."

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Blog Post | Transportation

"Rail means jobs" | David Rosenfeld

Another insightful blog post by US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, this time following a visit to Indiana, where rail equipment manufacturing is on the upswing, along with an increase in good-paying American jobs.

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Blog Post | Transportation

OPB & High Speed Rail | David Rosenfeld

I was on OPB’s Think Out Loud this morning talking about high speed rail. Big thanks to OPB for featuring this important topic. I had three short opportunities to comment, during which I made the following points...

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