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: Illinois 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 Illinois 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

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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Media Hit | Transportation

3 lessons from the Illiana boondoggle

With a few sentences in a news release last week, Gov. Bruce Rauner drove a crucial nail in the Illiana Expressway's coffin, a precipitous fall for what had been Illinois' No. 1 transportation priority. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Transportation

Statement: Governor Rauner Kills the Illiana Boondoggle

We applaud Governor Rauner for heeding the advice of thousands of Illinois residents who urged him to kill the wasteful Illiana expressway. Governor Rauner cited the 'current fiscal crisis,' but even in good fiscal times, the Illiana was an unjustified waste of taxpayer dollars. 

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Report | Illinois 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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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Transportation

New Report Ranks Chicago 14th Among 70 Major American Cities For High-Tech Transportation Options

A new report from Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group ranks American cities on how many new technology-enabled services and tools they have to meet transportation needs. It finds that Chicago ranks 14th among the nation’s 70 largest cities.

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Media Hit | Transportation

USA Today: Young People Driving Less

U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that online and mobile technology have fundamentally changed the way Americans live and work over the past 15 years; during the same period, growth in vehicle travel slowed and then stopped. U.S. PIRG suggests that these two developments are connected.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Study Finds Technology Enabling Americans to Drive Less

In a first-of-its-kind study, Illinois PIRG compiled nation-wide evidence on transportation apps and vehicle sharing programs – like Divy Bike and Zip Car – and found that these advanced new tools have made it easier for Americans to drive less. Real-time apps and on-board wi-fi for public transit, as well as carsharing, bikesharing and ridesharing have spread rapidly in recent years.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report Shows Illinoisans are Driving Less

Illinoisans have cut their per-person driving miles by 6.6 percent since 2005, while the nation’s long term driving boom appears to have ended, according to a new report from the Illinois PIRG Education Fund.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Reduction in Driving Likely to Continue

As the average number of miles driven by Americans heads into its eighth year of decline, a new report from the Illinois PIRG Education Fund finds that the slowdown in driving is likely to continue.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report: Long-Term Drop in How Much People Drive

A new report released today by the Illinois 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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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Transportation and the New Generation

From World War II until just a few years ago, the number of miles driven annually on America’s roads steadily increased. Then, at the turn of the century, something changed: Americans began driving less. By 2011, the average American was driving 6 percent fewer miles per year than in 2004. And the trend away from driving has been led by young people.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

High-Speed Rail: Public, Private or Both?

Public-private partnerships will likely be part of the development of high-speed rail in the United States.

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Report | Illinois 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 | Illinois 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.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Connecting the Midwest

Completing the Midwest’s regional rail system should be a priority for addressing many of the region’s toughest transportation challenges, while delivering badly needed economic activity.

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