Transit Not Traffic

INVESTING IN TRANSPORTATION INFRASRUCTURE—Maryland has some of the worst traffic in the country, it's time for our leaders to invest in transportation infrastructure that would reduce congestion, improve air quality and serve communities in need, instead of dumping money into wasteful new highway projects.

In the 20th century, Americans fell in love with the car. Driving a car became a rite of passage. Owning a car became a symbol of American freedom and mobility. And so we invested in a network of interstate highways that facilitated travel and connected the nation.

Now we're in a new century, with new challenges and new transportation needs. We still love our cars, but they remind us of our dependence on foreign oil. Americans want choices for getting to work, school, shopping and more. With gas prices up and lifestyles changing, Americans — especially the young — are driving less.

We need a transportation system that reflects and supports the way we want to travel now.

Consider:

For six decades, the number of miles driven by Americans was on the rise year after year after year. Since 2004, Americans reversed the trend and have been driving less. Meanwhile, public transportation ridership nationwide is hitting record highs. This trend is greatest among younger Americans — who will be the biggest users of infrastructure built today. Since the 1950s — despite knowing that buses and rail use far less energy and space — we have spent nine times more on highway projects than on public transportation.

By reducing traffic and pollution and increasing our options for getting around, efficient public transportation systems like intercity rail and clean bus systems would make America’s transportation future better for everyone.

But America also needs to repair and maintain our current aging infrastructure. Nearly 70,000 of the nation’s bridges are classified as “structurally deficient.” Instead of building ever-wider roads that will only make America more dependent on oil, we need to be smart in how we invest in highways, and fix them first.

Help us make sure government recognizes our need to invest in a 21st century transportation system.

Issue updates

Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Transportation and the New Generation

During the second half of the 20th century, the total number of miles driven in America steadily increased. Then, at the turn of the century, the trend changed. Americans now drive less than we did in the mid-2000s—both in absolute and per-capita terms.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Testimony on Baltimore Transit-Oriented Development Fund | Jenny Levin

The Maryland Public Interest Group supports the passage of HB 213, establishing the Baltimore City Community Enhancement Transit-Oriented Development Fund as a special, non-lapsing fund for specified purposes

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News Release | Transportation

Mad Men Make Online Pitch for High Speed Rail

Two lead actors from the hit television show Mad Men throw their support behind high-speed rail in a humorous new online video posted today on Funnyordie.com.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Tax, 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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News Release | Transportation

Do Roads Pay for Themselves?

A new report released today by the Maryland Public Interest Research Group disproves the common misperception that road-building is paid for by user fees, showing that gas taxes cover barely half the costs of building and maintaining roads, a fraction which is likely to fall steadily.

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Are Campaign Contributions Greasing the Wheels for New Highway Construction?

The nation has 73,000 crumbling bridges, but year after year startlingly few federal transportation dollars go to fixing them.

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News Release | Transportation

Public Transit Crucial for Maryland's Future

In the wake of Governor O’Malley’s announcement to spend nearly 40 percent of the first wave of infrastructure funds from the economic recovery package on transit projects, Maryland PIRG released today a report at Baltimore’s historic Penn Station to lay out the next steps in moving forward transportation projects that will help Marylanders spend less on gas, reduce traffic congestion, and curb our addiction to oil.

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News Release | Transportation

Congress Takes Big Step Toward 21st Century Transportation in Stimulus

In a bold and far-sighted move, Congress added $9.3 billion in the American Reinvestment and Economic Recovery Act for development of high speed rail and other intercity rail. This amount was large increase from the Senate version of the bill and came on top of $8.4 designated for other public transit agencies.

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News Release | Transportation

States Shut Public Transportation Out of Stimulus Plan

According to a 16-state study released today by Maryland PIRG, President-elect Obama’s stated intention to use investment in infrastructure to improve the economy and reduce oil consumption could be undermined if states spend transportation stimulus funds the way they have suggested in wish lists to Congress. The wish lists dramatically favor new highway projects over road & bridge repair and transit projects.

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News Release | Transportation

squandering the stimulus

Without sufficient alternatives to driving, American families spent their entire economic stimulus check on high-priced gas.  According to new analysis from the Maryland Public Interest Research Group, since President Bush signed the tax rebates into law on February 13th, the average household spent over $1500 filling their tanks. Gas costs were higher than average in areas without robust public transportation.

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