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.

The last decade has shown that America can shift from old patterns of wasteful and auto-centric transportation. After sixty years of almost unmitigated driving increases, the average number of miles Americans drove decreased nine years in a row after 2004. This change is led by the Millennial generation and aided by technologies that make it easier to travel without owning a personal automobile.

Our work has helped to educate the public about these powerful trends and the need for policy 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 policy reforms for the 21st century.

Through a series of well researched and eye opening reports, public outreach and work with local coalitions and public officials, we've pushed for 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. 

Issue updates

Blog Post | Budget, Transportation

What do Wisconsin transit riders think about the transportation system? We asked them, and here's what they said. | Peter Skopec

WISPIRG is one of many members of the Coalition for More Responsible Transportation (CMRT), which includes environmental organizations, faith and social justice groups, public transit advocates, and others. This week, CMRT is holding a Week of Action to draw attention to the need for better public transportation in Wisconsin. One of the ways we’re doing that is by asking transit riders across the state to share their public transportation stories with us. In this guest post, our summer campaign associate Macklyn Hutchison writes on her conversations with transit riders about their experience with the public transportation system.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Smarter spending priorities would create a better transportation system | Peter Skopec

This is the second of a two-part guest post on public transportation in China, New York City and Wisconsin from Pei Wang, who interned with us this spring semester.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

This is New York’s Subway System?! | Peter Skopec

To kick off our 21st Century Transportation blog, we're featuring a two-part guest post on public transportation in China, New York City and Wisconsin from Pei Wang, who interned with us this spring semester.

> Keep Reading
Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Volkswagen Settlement State Scorecard

Volkswagen was caught cheating emissions laws and settled with federal authorities. The settlement included nearly $3 billion for the Environmental Mitigation Trust. How well does Wisconsin rank on plans for investing VW mitigation trust funds in clean transportation projects?

> Keep Reading
Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget, Transportation

Millennials on the Move

Car culture no longer represents the “American Dream” for young Americans. Many young people today prefer car-light, multimodal lifestyles that allow them to get around efficiently, multitask while commuting, and feel connected to their communities. Millennials are drawn to the high quality of life in places that offer extensive and safe walking and biking options, as well as clean, fast, and efficient public transportation networks. Moreover, this preference for multimodal lifestyles appears to be influencing young people’s decisions about where to live and work.

> Keep Reading

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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

WISPIRG Statement on Nomination of Craig Thompson to WISDOT Secretary

Governor-elect Tony Evers this morning nominated Craig Thompson, executive director of the roadbuilding and transportation infrastructure advocacy group TDA, to run the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. WISPIRG Director Peter Skopec issued the following statement in response to Gov.-elect Evers’ announcement.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Budget, Transportation

Coalition Applauds Gov. Walker’s Suggestion to Rethink Highway Expansions

At a Milwaukee Press Club event on Tuesday, Governor Walker questioned whether the state should continue spending billions of dollars on highway expansions at a time when transportation preferences are changing, and when there is a pressing need to maintain existing infrastructure. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S.PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay, Transportation

Framework for VW Settlement Announced

Statement by Mike Litt, Consumer Program Advocate at U.S. PIRG Education Fund, on todays announced VW settlement. For more details on what a strong settlement agreement ought to look like, please see the open letter that we released earlier this week with other consumer and environmental groups.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget, Transportation

New Report Finds Drivers Pay Less Than Half the Cost of Roads

As state lawmakers prepare to debate Wisconsin’s transportation budget and Congress struggles to renew the federal transportation law, a new report from WISPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group finds that drivers currently pay less than half the total cost of roads nationwide, and argues that while increasing gas taxes could temporarily fill the transportation funding shortfall, it would leave other, deeper problems unaddressed.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

As Federal Highway Administration Acknowledges the Driving Boom is Over, Will WISDOT Follow Suit?

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has quietly acknowledged that the Driving Boom is over, cutting its forecasted driving estimates by between 24 percent and 44 percent.  Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WISDOT) continues to forecast increases in driving that aren’t materializing - a policy that risks wasting billions of taxpayer dollars. WISDOT is also claiming a $680 million shortfall in current transportation funding, a significant portion of which is to accommodate unnecessary expansions of highway capacity. 

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Volkswagen Settlement State Scorecard

Volkswagen was caught cheating emissions laws and settled with federal authorities. The settlement included nearly $3 billion for the Environmental Mitigation Trust. How well does Wisconsin rank on plans for investing VW mitigation trust funds in clean transportation projects?

> Keep Reading
Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget, Transportation

Millennials on the Move

Car culture no longer represents the “American Dream” for young Americans. Many young people today prefer car-light, multimodal lifestyles that allow them to get around efficiently, multitask while commuting, and feel connected to their communities. Millennials are drawn to the high quality of life in places that offer extensive and safe walking and biking options, as well as clean, fast, and efficient public transportation networks. Moreover, this preference for multimodal lifestyles appears to be influencing young people’s decisions about where to live and work.

> Keep Reading
Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

The Road to Clean Transportation

By transforming our vehicles, rethinking the design of our cities and towns, maximizing the benefits of new technologies, and doubling down on proven strategies like public transit, the Midwest can ensure that the transportation system we pass on to our children is clean, resilient, equitable and accessible to all.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 4

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. 

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Electric Buses

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Blog Post | Budget, Transportation

What do Wisconsin transit riders think about the transportation system? We asked them, and here's what they said. | Peter Skopec

WISPIRG is one of many members of the Coalition for More Responsible Transportation (CMRT), which includes environmental organizations, faith and social justice groups, public transit advocates, and others. This week, CMRT is holding a Week of Action to draw attention to the need for better public transportation in Wisconsin. One of the ways we’re doing that is by asking transit riders across the state to share their public transportation stories with us. In this guest post, our summer campaign associate Macklyn Hutchison writes on her conversations with transit riders about their experience with the public transportation system.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Smarter spending priorities would create a better transportation system | Peter Skopec

This is the second of a two-part guest post on public transportation in China, New York City and Wisconsin from Pei Wang, who interned with us this spring semester.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

This is New York’s Subway System?! | Peter Skopec

To kick off our 21st Century Transportation blog, we're featuring a two-part guest post on public transportation in China, New York City and Wisconsin from Pei Wang, who interned with us this spring semester.

> Keep Reading
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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Pages

Blog Post

WISPIRG is one of many members of the Coalition for More Responsible Transportation (CMRT), which includes environmental organizations, faith and social justice groups, public transit advocates, and others. This week, CMRT is holding a Week of Action to draw attention to the need for better public transportation in Wisconsin. One of the ways we’re doing that is by asking transit riders across the state to share their public transportation stories with us. In this guest post, our summer campaign associate Macklyn Hutchison writes on her conversations with transit riders about their experience with the public transportation system.

Blog Post

This is the second of a two-part guest post on public transportation in China, New York City and Wisconsin from Pei Wang, who interned with us this spring semester.

Blog Post

To kick off our 21st Century Transportation blog, we're featuring a two-part guest post on public transportation in China, New York City and Wisconsin from Pei Wang, who interned with us this spring semester.

Report | WISPIRG Foundation

Volkswagen was caught cheating emissions laws and settled with federal authorities. The settlement included nearly $3 billion for the Environmental Mitigation Trust. How well does Wisconsin rank on plans for investing VW mitigation trust funds in clean transportation projects?

Report | WISPIRG Foundation

Car culture no longer represents the “American Dream” for young Americans. Many young people today prefer car-light, multimodal lifestyles that allow them to get around efficiently, multitask while commuting, and feel connected to their communities. Millennials are drawn to the high quality of life in places that offer extensive and safe walking and biking options, as well as clean, fast, and efficient public transportation networks. Moreover, this preference for multimodal lifestyles appears to be influencing young people’s decisions about where to live and work.

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