21st Century Transportation

Two stars of the hit show Mad Men teamed up with OSPIRG and the humor website Funny or Die to produce a video, Mad Fast Trains, pitching high-speed rail.

MORE RELIABLE, FASTER TRAINS ON TRACK

Improving passenger rail is an essential step to keeping commuters and commerce moving in Oregon and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Already, rising gas prices and rush hour traffic are straining Oregon commuters’ pocketbooks, patience and productivity. And with more than a million new residents expected to move to the state over the next twenty years, these problems will only worsen.

Inconvenient schedules and frequent delays prevent most Oregonians from using the Amtrak train between Eugene and Seattle. But state officials estimate that ridership in Oregon would double with only modest improvements to the existing rail service.

A faster, more reliable train would not only give commuters a better choice to get around the Willamette Valley, it could also save taxpayers money. The Oregon Department of Transportation estimates that the projected decrease in highway traffic from faster and more reliable rail service could save Oregon as much as $20 billion in fuel savings, fewer car accidents, and reduced highway maintenance. 

OSPIRG is advising the state on how to fund critical improvements and teaming up with business leaders, local officials, and the public to persuade lawmakers on the merits of improving rail service. 

Issue updates

News Release | Transportation

Highway Administration Reinstates Clean Air Rule In Response to Lawsuit

In a victory for climate and clean air, the Federal Highway Administration responded to a lawsuit brought by U.S. PIRG, NRDC, and the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Clean Air Carolina by reinstating a federal requirement that state and local planners track and curb carbon pollution from cars and trucks on the national highways, which is a major contributor to climate change.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Clean Transportation Doesn’t Need To Be A Distant Utopia | John Olivieri

For many, when they think of combating global warming, they think of solar panels on rooftops and eliminating coal fired power plants. But, the truth is, there is not an effective solution to address global warming that does not deal with transportation as well.

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Blog Post | Transportation

A World Without Carbon Pollution – Closer Than You Might Think | John Olivieri

For many, a world without carbon pollution seems like a distant utopia. To some, this even seems unobtainable. The size and scope of the challenge before us can be daunting, yet, there is good news -- a world without carbon pollution is closer than you think.

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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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Blog Post | Transportation

Pulling a FAST one on our Transportation Future | Sean Doyle

For the first time in a decade, and after roughly three dozen short-term extensions, Congress has pulled together and passed a transportation-funding law lasting longer than two years. There is only one problem: the new law is the wrong deal for the country.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Transportation

Good news for rail today

U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced $2B in high-speed rail grants today, including over $16 million for Oregon and Washington. Today’s announcement is another step towards reducing our dependence on four dollar a gallon gas, giving us better alternatives to being stuck in traffic, and fewer dollars wasted widening highways and adding runways.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Mad Men Make "Funny or Die" Video 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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Media Hit | Transportation

Oregon must relax limits on use of money for road work

This opinion piece by former ODOT Rail Director Claudia Howells examines our broken transportation funding system.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Northwest Rail Projects Receive Federal Money

Oregon receives almost $2 million in federal funding for our high-speed rail corridor.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Higher-speed rail: Interstate 5 corridor ideal for a fast track to a better Oregon

Former Salem Mayor Janet Taylor writes an opinion piece for the Oregonian about how improving our rail system in Oregon will help commuters and create jobs.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Transportation and the New Generation

Federal and local governments have historically made massive investments in new highway capacity on the assumption that driving will continue to increase at a rapid and steady pace. The changing transportation preferences of young people—and Americans overall—throw those assumptions into doubt. The time has come for transportation policy to reflect the needs and desires of today’s Americans—not the worn-out conventional wisdom from days gone by.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax, Transportation

High-Speed Rail: Public Private or Both?

A report by OSPIRG Foundation's national office assessing the prospects, promise and pitfalls of public-private partnerships.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

How Speculation is Affecting Gasoline Prices Today

Excellent report by the Political Economy Research Institute

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Do Roads Pay for Themselves?

Disproves the common misperception that road building is paid for by user fees, otherwise known as the federal gas tax.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | 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. High-speed rail lines have operated for more than 45 years in Japan and for three decades in Europe, providing a wealth of information about what the United States can expect from high-speed rail and how we can receive the greatest possible benefits from our investment.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Two good inter-city transit developments | David Rosenfeld

Two interesting (and at face value, good) announcements today from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Why are young people driving less? | David Rosenfeld

New report by OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group that documents the nationwide decline in driving—and finds that young people are leading the trend. The report explores the many factors that have led to the decrease in driving among the young. Bottom line: if these trends are structural, as the data suggests, then transportation planners will need to overhaul their assumptions about whether the nation needs (or can afford) major highway expansions.

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Blog Post | Transportation

The Little Train that Could ... and Did | David Rosenfeld

Tony Dutzik from the Frontier Group's latest post about Maine's Downeaster train. Interesting similarities between Maine's situation and Oregon's.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Something's Happening Here; What it Is Is Increasingly Clear | David Rosenfeld

Another incisive post from Tony Dutzik of the Frontier Group on why declining driving numbers are real, despite what some transit opponents claim.

 

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Blog Post | Transportation

Fast trains slowly appearing on the horizon | David Rosenfeld

Many Willamette Valley commuters and businesses frustrated at I-5 rush hour and gas prices have longed for a convenient, reliable and speedy train between Portland and Eugene. The solutions aren’t quite around the bend yet, but some important behind-the-scenes activity in recent months might create a path towards greater transit choices for Oregon’s consumers and businesses. 

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation

 

Portland typically ranks near the top when it comes to cities with the best public transportation. But according to a new report from OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group, an expensive proposal to widen I-5 in the Rose Quarter would run counter to the city’s reputation. The $450 million project would increase highway lanes in the project area by 50 percent, with extra-wide shoulders to potentially accommodate an even higher-capacity freeway in the future.

Report | OSPIRG Foundation

America’s aging roads and bridges need fixing. Our car-dependent transportation system is dangerous, harms our communities, and is the nation’s leading source of global warming pollution. And more than ever before, it is clear that America needs to invest in giving people healthier, more sustainable transportation options.

 

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 key transportation priorities. Highway Boondoggles 5 finds nine new budget-eating highway projects slated to cost a total of $25 billion that will harm communities and the environment, while likely failing to achieve meaningful transportation goals.

Blog Post

For all of us who rely on our roads and public transit, and our water, sewage and power systems, the agreement reached by President Trump and Democratic congressional leaders in May to commit $2 trillion to infrastructure should be good news.

Blog Post

When it comes to clean transportation, most U.S. states are underutilizing funds from Volkswagen’s nearly $3 billion settlement with federal authorities for violating emissions standards.

Blog Post

Talk about a captive market: For most of us, it's next to impossible to work, shop or go to school without a car. Auto lenders are taking full advantage.

Transportation | U.S. PIRG

Volkswagen settlement 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 our state rank on plans for investing VW mitigation trust funds in clean transportation projects?

 
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