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

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."

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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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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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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation

 

Portland typically ranks near the top when it comes to cities with the best public transportation. But according to a new report from OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group, an expensive proposal to widen I-5 in the Rose Quarter would run counter to the city’s reputation. The $450 million project would increase highway lanes in the project area by 50 percent, with extra-wide shoulders to potentially accommodate an even higher-capacity freeway in the future.

Report | OSPIRG Foundation

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.

 

Yet year after year, state and local governments propose billions of dollars’ worth of new and expanded highways that often do little to reduce congestion or address real transportation challenges, while diverting scarce funding from infrastructure repairs and key transportation priorities. Highway Boondoggles 5 finds nine new budget-eating highway projects slated to cost a total of $25 billion that will harm communities and the environment, while likely failing to achieve meaningful transportation goals.

News Release | OSPIRG Foundation

Highway projects are notorious for wasting taxpayer dollars. Now, a new report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group identifies nine wasteful highway expansion projects across the country, slated collectively to cost at least $30 billion.

Report | OSPIRG Foundation

America’s infrastructure is in rough shape. Many of our roads, bridges and transit systems are aging and in need of repair.

Yet, year after year, state and local governments propose billions of dollars’ worth of new and expanded highways that often do little to reduce congestion or address real transportation challenges, while diverting scarce funding from infrastructure repairs and 21st century transportation priorities. 

Report | OSPIRG Foundation

The adoption of large numbers of electric vehicles (EVs) offers many benefits for cities, including cleaner air and the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Electric vehicles are far cleaner than gasoline-powered cars, with lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower emissions of the pollutants that contribute to smog and particulate matter.

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