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: WISPIRG Foundation'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 WISPIRG Foundation 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 | WISPIRG Foundation | Make VW Pay, Transportation

From Deceit to Transformation

Volkswagen (VW) perpetuated a fraud on the American people, deceiving consumers into believing that they were getting the best possible combination of performance and sustainability. But VW’s promises were nothing more than lies that significantly harmed our collective health and the health of our environment. Yet, their deceit now represents a historic opportunity to drastically reduce harmful pollution that makes us sick and destroys the planet, while also providing an essential down payment toward the transition to a clean and modern 21st century transportation system.

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Blog Post | Budget, Transportation

Community Forums this Fall: Transportation and Equity in Wisconsin | Peter Skopec

This fall, WISPIRG and our partners at the Sierra Club, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin and WISDOM are hosting a series of community events across Wisconsin. As state leaders begin to debate the future of transportation funding in Wisconsin, we'll explore the impacts of the transportation system on communities in our state and discuss the importance of investing in local priorities. Join us for an event near you by RSVPing at tinyurl.com/TranspoForumsWI!

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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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Media Hit | Transportation

More Students Taking the Bus

Are college kids giving up on the car? A new report shows Americans are driving less, and young people are turning more to public transportation – for perhaps obvious reasons.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Report: Young People Taking Bus More, Driving Less

Young people between the ages of 16 and 34 are driving less and riding buses more, especially in the Madison area, according a report released Thursday from the WISPIRG Foundation and the Frontier Group.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Report: Long-Term Drop in How Much Wisconsinites Drive, Youth Desire More Transportation Options

A new report by the WISPIRG Foundation and the Frontier Group demonstrates that Wisconsinites, like drivers across the country, have been driving less since the middle of the last decade. The report, Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People are Driving Less and What it Means for Transportation Policy, 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 | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Myth Busted: Road Costs Not Covered by Gas Taxes

A new report released today by the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group titled "Do Roads Pay for Themselves?" disproves the common misconception 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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Media Hit | Transportation

WI Radio Network: State bridges need repair

As President Obama makes the push to spend billions of dollars rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, a new report suggests Wisconsin could use the attention. Kyle Bailey of WISPIRG says a review done by the public policy group found one out of every 12 bridges in the state is in need of some type of repair.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Highway Boom, Budget Bust

This report questions whether the state of Wisconsin might be wasting huge sums of taxpayer money on unnecessary projects by planning to invest heavily in new roads and highway expansions that are out of sync with population and travel behavior trends in the state.  On the one hand, Wisconsin’s population and its volume of driving grow at a relatively slow pace that has slowed over time.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Transportation and the New Generation

A new report released today by the WISPIRG Foundation and the Frontier Group demonstrates that Wisconsinites, like drivers across the country, have been driving less since the middle of the last decade. The report, Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People are Driving Less and What it Means for Transportation Policy, shows that young people in particular are decreasing the amount they drive and increasing their use of transportation alternatives.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Building Boondoggles?

At a time when the State of Wisconsin is wielding an axe with many public programs and vital transportation services, it appears to be shoveling tax dollars toward four highly questionable highway expansion programs that could cost over $2 billion.

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Blog Post

From mask mandates to capacity limits, the largest public transit systems and ride share companies have new procedures

Blog Post

In this webinar hosted by the Coalition for More Responsible Transportation, we explore how colleges, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, are invested in making it easier for students and staff to get around without having to drive their cars on campus.

Blog Post

WISPIRG's Summer Program Associate Christina Zordani, a student sustainability advocate at UW-Madison, explains her disappointment with Gov. Evers' recent decision to revive the cancelled expansion of Interstate 94 in Milwaukee.

News Release | WISPIRG

Gov. Tony Evers and WISDOT Secretary-designee Craig Thompson announced Wednesday that the state would seek to resume plans to rebuild and expand 3.5 miles of Interstate 94 in Milwaukee. Members of a coalition that has opposed the expansion for more than half a decade released the following statements in response.

Blog Post

WISPIRG's Summer Program Associate Christina Zordani explores some Americans' negative associations with public transportation, and what it would take to overcome this stigma. 

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