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

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

An Analysis of the Volkswagen Settlement

Volkswagen vehicles emitted pollutants by as much as 40 times the legal limit. Arizonans who thought they were driving cleaner cars were actually pouring huge amounts of pollution into our air every time they drove.  It is critical that 100% of the funds be invested in the cleanest options available. 

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Blog Post | Transportation

A New Way Forward: Envisioning a Transportation System without Carbon Pollution | Diane E. Brown

A new report from Frontier Group, A New Way Forward: Envisioning a Transportation System without Carbon Pollution, highlights that in order to tackle carbon pollution, there needs to be a transformation in how we move people and goods in, through and between our cities. The good news is that the last decade has seen an explosion of new technologies and the emergence of new innovations that can contribute to a solution.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Good Things Come to Those On Bikes | Sean Doyle

Pull the bike out of the closet, pump up those tires, and dust off the helmet because it's Bike to Work Week!

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Blog Post | Transportation

Don’t Believe the Hype – Millennials’ Transportation Habits Are Changing | Sean Doyle

Despite news stories claiming that Millennials are buying up cars at record rates, the reality is quite different. After adjusting previous studies to account for differences in the size of the generations measured, on a per-capita basis, Millennials are 29 percent less likely than members of Generation X to own a car.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Breaking the Silence on Transportation and the Climate

Transportation policy-makers in most states and at the federal level have simply never seen it as their business to consider, much less act to reduce, the climate impacts of their infrastructure investment decisions. The Obama administration’s actions last week, however tentative, suggest that that is about to change.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report Ranks Phoenix And Other Major American Cities For High-Tech Transportation Options

A new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and the Frontier Group finds that Phoenix ties for 32nd among the nation’s 70 largest cities in terms of how many technology-enabled services and tools the city has to meet transportation needs.

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

As Millennials lead a national shift away from driving, higher education institutions like Arizona State University and the University of Arizona are giving students new options for getting around and becoming innovators in transportation policy.

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Report | Arizona PIRG 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 | 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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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A New Course

Universities and colleges across the country are taking steps to encourage their communities, students, faculty and staff to decrease their reliance on personal vehicles. These efforts are working well – saving money for universities, improving the quality of life in college towns, and giving today’s students experience in living life without depending on a personal car.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A New Way to Go

Over the last 15 years, the Internet and mobile communications technologies have transformed the way Americans live and work. During that same period, growth in vehicle travel slowed and then stopped, with Americans today driving about as much on average as we did in 1996.

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Blog Post | Transportation

All Americans Deserve Clean Air to Breathe, On Earth Day and Every Day | Sean Doyle

U.S. DOT asks if we should measure global warming pollution from transportation.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Owning Fewer Cars Isn’t Just For Millennials | Sean Doyle

New transportation options are making it easier for people to use transit more, own fewer cars, and even save money on transportation.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Communities Roaring for More TIGER Grants | Sean Doyle

Across the country, municipalities are looking for more transportation funding, particularly for public transportation. A recent poll from Politico magazine found that among mayors, aging and deteriorating transportation infrastructure was the most often cited concern. Enter TIGER grants.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Time for ADOT to Move Forward with Transportation Options Arizonans Want | Diane E. Brown

While ADOT has made some good transportation strides in recent years, Arizona PIRG has a vision for our transportation system that differs from that of ADOT’s.

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Blog Post | Transportation

A Trillion Fewer Driving Miles? | Jason Donofrio

It’s now common knowledge that annual changes in the volume of driving no longer follow the old ways. In July 2012, Americans clocked over 258 billion miles behind the wheel, a billion fewer miles than the previous July despite a slightly stronger economy and cheaper gasoline.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

According to the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, Americans stand to breathe more polluted air as a result of a rollback announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler proposed to roll back the “Clean Car” fuel economy standards which, if left in place, would eliminate more than two billion metric tons of emissions. The proposal would also deny states the right to create their own more efficient fuel standards.

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

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 | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

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. 

Blog Post

While we appreciate that Governor Ducey’s plan dedicates the majority of the VW Settlement Funds to replacing dirty, old school buses, the plan can and should be improved. Read our suggestions.

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Buses play a key role in in our nation’s transportation system, carrying millions of children daily to and from school and moving millions of Americans each day around our cities. Buses reduce the number of individual cars on our roads, make our communities more livable and sustainable, and provide transportation options for people of all ages and abilities.

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