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: Arizona PIRG 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 Arizona PIRG 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 | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Report Calls I-11 an Example of Wasteful Spending, Based on Outdated Assumptions

A new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund calls I-11 an example of wasteful highway spending based on its outdated assumptions of ever-increasing driving. The study points to data showing that the $2.5 billion proposed project is based on forecasts that are out of sync with current trends and that, at nearly all of the highway’s traffic counter locations, traffic growth has been slower than forecasted in project documents or has actually declined.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles

Even though the Driving Boom is now over, state and federal governments continue to pour vast sums of money into the construction of new highways and expansion of old ones – at the expense of urgent needs such as road and bridge repairs, improvements in public transportation and other transportation priorities. Eleven proposed highway projects across the country – slated to cost at least $13 billion – exemplify the need for a fresh approach to transportation spending.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Bikes, Trains and Less Driving

Arizona, like the rest of America, is experiencing a shift in how people travel. The Driving Boom – a six decade-long period of steady increase in per-capita driving across the United States – is over. Driving miles per person are down especially sharply among Millennials, America’s largest generation that will increasingly dominate transportation trends. Since 2005 Arizonans have been driving fewer miles per person, and they increasingly look to public transportation to get around.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report Documents Transportation Trends in Arizona:

According to new research, Arizona is experiencing a shift in how people travel. Bikes, Trains and Less Driving, a report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and St. Luke’s Health Initiatives, found that between 2005-2012 Arizona saw a 10.5 percent decline in annual vehicle miles traveled per capita and Arizonans increasingly look to public transportation to get around.

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Media Hit | Transportation

You can weigh in on Phoenix-Tucson rail

Arizonans increasingly are moving away from driving and seeking alternatives, said Serena Unrein, public interest advocate at the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG. An option such as the Phoenix-Tucson passenger rail could be an important resource for Arizonans looking for alternative travel methods, she said.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report: Long-Term Drop in How Much People Drive, Youth Desire More Transportation Options

A new report released by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund demonstrates that Americans have been driving less since the middle of last decade. The report shows that young people in particular are decreasing the amount they drive and increasing their use of transportation alternatives.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Arizonans Have Opportunities to Weigh In on Passenger Rail

As part of its Intercity Rail Study, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) recently announced opportunities for Arizonans to give their input on a proposed passenger rail line connecting Phoenix and Tucson. Supporters of passenger rail cheered these public meetings as a step forward for rail connecting Arizona’s two largest cities.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Guest Commentary: Burgeoning traffic concerns make bullet-train travel vital

A guest commentary on passenger rail written by Serena Unrein, public-interest advocate for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, appeared in the July 24, 2012 edition of the Arizona Republic.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report Assesses the Potential of Rail Public-Private Partnerships

A first-of-its-kind report released today examines whether high-speed rail should be public, private or both. The report released by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund examines the experience with public-private partnerships for high-speed rail in the U.S. and other countries.  In addition to outlining the promise and pitfalls, the report recommends ten principles to protect taxpayers and the public interest under private financing deals.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Public News Service: Older Arizonans Face Future of Limited Mobility

More than half of the growing senior population in Arizona cities will soon have little or no access to public transportation, according to a new study. With baby boomers reaching retirement age and eventually giving up driving, the problem is expected to worsen.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Road Work Ahead

Over the last 50 years, America has built roads and bridges at a pace and scale that dwarfs most of the rest of the world. Now, much of that system is showing its age – and as maintenance needs continue to grow, we are falling farther behind.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

The Businesses of Light Rail

Arizonans clearly desire increased and improved public transportation options, as proven by the fact that the public has voted in favor of taxes to support public transportation in the past. Furthermore, since the light rail line began operation, it has consistently achieved higher-than-expected and record-breaking ridership numbers.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

The Right Track

America's highways and airports are increasingly congested. Our nation's transportation system remains dependent on oil. And our existing transportation infrastructure is inadequate to the demands of the 21st century. Intercity passenger rail can help America address each of these challenges.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Greasing the Wheels

In the wake of the Minnesota I-35 bridge collapse, there was enormous public outcry and recognition of the need to repair our crumbling infrastructure. Americans expected public officials to respond to the tragedy with a large scale effort to address the nearly 73,000 structurally deficient bridges in this country. The findings in this report suggest that did not happen.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Arizona and the Stimulus

June 29th, 2009 marks the 120-day deadline for Arizona and the other states to commit at least 50% of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA) $26.6 billion in transportation funds. It provides a vantage point to examine how states are using the money, with a particular focus on the $527 million apportioned to Arizona.

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