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: NJPIRG Law & Policy Center'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 NJPIRG Law & Policy Center 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 | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Consumer Protection, Transportation

The Unfriendly Skies

This report analyzes these consumer complaints about U.S. air carriers for the five year period from 2009-2013, evaluates the effectiveness of new regulations and compares airlines’ performance.
This report tracks trends in tens of thousands of consumer complaints over time, finding how some airlines have improved their rankings and others have worsened. We also compare consumer complaint data with other DOT data that tracks airlines’ on-time performance and baggage handling.

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Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | 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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News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Transportation

University Campuses Like Rutgers Are Transportation Trailblazers as Students Lead Shift From Driving

As Millennials lead a national shift away from driving, universities like Rutgers are giving students new options for getting around and becoming innovators in transportation policy, according to a new report released today. The report, titled, “A New Course: How Innovative University Programs Are Reducing Driving on Campus and Creating New Models for Transportation Policy,” was released by NJPIRG Student Chapters today.

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News Release | NJPIRG | Public Health, Transportation

New Safety Recommendations a Good Step Forward

Statement of Jen Kim, NJPIRG State Director on new NTSB recommendations for oil transport on trains.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Transportation

Report Shows Newark/NYC Region Driving Less, Using Transit and Alternatives More

A first-of-its-kind report by the NJPIRG Law & Policy Center shows reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in New Jersey’s urbanized areas—including the Newark/NYC and Philadelphia areas—and greater use of public transit and biking.

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Media Hit | Transportation

The Star-Ledger: Report: Gas tax, car charges only cover half the cost of road maintenance

Amid a debate over whether New Jersey should increase its low gasoline tax to shore up the nearly broke transportation fund, a report released today cautions that gas taxes and other vehicle charges pay only half the cost of building and maintaining the nation’s roads.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget, Transportation

Caution Ahead

A new research report released today outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to outsource traffic enforcement to red-light and speed camera vendors.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget, Transportation

New Report: Misplaced highway spending to blame for crumbling roads and bridges

Drivers in New Jersey pay an extra $596 per year on car repairs due to highways and bridges in disrepair. Drivers in the New York-Newark metropolitan area spend upwards of $638 extra on car repairs in a year.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Transportation

'User-Fee' Myth Busted; NJ Is Only State in Nation Where Taxes Subsidize Driving

A new report released today by the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG) 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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Report | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget, 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 | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | 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. We’ve built a national highway network like no other, with more than 45,000 miles of interstate highway and 575,000 highway bridges.

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Report | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Democracy, 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 | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Transportation

Economic Stimulus or Simply More Misguided Spending?

This fall, Congress asked states to submit lists of “ready-to-go” transportation infrastructure projects that could be funded by the stimulus package. Lists from nineteen state departments of transportation (DOTs) show that the broader goals articulated by President-elect Obama will be undermined if Congress, the Administration, and the states do not establish forward-looking rules for spending stimulus funds.

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