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 Documents Continued Decline in Driving, Increase in Public Transit in Arizona

Summer 2015 Update: Bikes, Trains and Less Driving, a report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and St. Luke’s Health Initiatives, found that between 2006-2013 Arizona saw an 11.8 percent decline in annual vehicle miles traveled per capita and Arizonans increasingly look to public transportation to get around.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report Finds Drivers Pay Less Than Half The Cost Of Roads

As Congress struggles to renew the federal transportation law, a new report from the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group finds that drivers currently pay less than half the total cost of roads, and argues that while increasing gas taxes could fill the shortfall, it would leave other problems unaddressed.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Who Pays for Roads?

Many Americans believe that drivers pay the full cost of the roads they use through gas taxes and other user fees. That has never been true, and it is less true now than at any other point in modern times.

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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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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

Phoenix-Tucson Rail Creates Jobs, Save Millions

A new report released today by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund highlighted the benefits of connecting Phoenix and Tucson with passenger rail. The report, Connecting Phoenix and Tucson: The Benefits of Intercity Rail in the Sun Corridor, estimates that the economic benefits of intercity rail include: expanding labor market access for businesses, creating at least 30,000 job-years of employment, boosting local economies, and ensuring that the Phoenix-Tucson area remains attractive to young people, who increasingly prefer alternatives to driving.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Arizona Public Media: Arizonans Driving Less, Despite Population Gains

Americans are driving less for the first time since World War II, according to a new study from the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. In 2007, Arizonans drove more than 62 billion miles. Despite an increase in the state’s population, that figure decreased by almost three billion miles in 2010.

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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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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Do Roads Pay for Themselves?

Highway advocates often claim that roads “pay for themselves,” with gasoline taxes and other charges to motorists covering—or nearly covering—the full cost of highway construction and maintenance. They are wrong.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A Track Record of Success

As America moves toward construction of new high-speed rail networks in regions throughout the country, we have much to learn from experiences abroad. High-speed rail lines have operated for more than 45 years in Japan and for three decades in Europe, providing a wealth of information about what the United States can expect from high-speed rail and how we can receive the greatest possible benefits from our investment.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

How & Why to Fund Light Rail in the Phoenix Metro Area

This Arizona PIRG Education Fund report outlines funding options that transportation officials can explore to expand the light rail system in the Phoenix metro area and why expanding the light rail is important.

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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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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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