21st Century Transportation

Wisconsin can’t afford more extravagant highway projects, especially when urgent local road repair and transit needs are being neglected. It’s time to get our transportation priorities straight and invest Wisconsin taxpayer dollars wisely, not wastefully.

Highway Waste Undermines 21st Century Transportation in Wisconsin

Demand for transportation alternatives is skyrocketing, and our roads and bridges are crumbling. Yet instead of meeting our changing transportation needs, our state budget continues to funnel billions of dollars into shortsighted new highway projects.

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

With gas prices up and lifestyles changing, we are driving less and taking transit, walking, and biking more.  The average Wisconsinite drove 500 fewer miles in 2010 than in 2004, and between 2001 and 2009 young people’s travel on public transportation increased by 40% nationwide. Meanwhile, recent reports found that 1,100 Wisconsin bridges are structurally deficient, and 43% of our roads are in “less than good” condition.

By shifting our transportation budget away from expensive new highways, we can invest in efficient public transportation systems like intercity rail and clean bus systems, and make sure that our existing infrastructure is safe and functional for decades to come.

Unfortunately, the highway lobby and big road construction firms won’t easily let go of their high-priced, taxpayer-funded highway contracts. They’ve lobbied hard, and Governor Walker has listened — he has increased spending on new highways at the expense of everything else.

With state leaders considering the next two-year budget, now is the time to fight for Wisconsin’s transportation future. With enough public support, we can overcome the road builders and their lobbyists, and make sure Gov. Walker and state leaders get behind a transportation plan that will best benefit Wisconsin taxpayers.  
 

Issue updates

Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Transportation in Transition

Americans’ transportation habits have changed. The average American drives 7.6 percent fewer miles today than when per-capita driving peaked in 2004. A review of data from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and Census Bureau for America’s 100 most populous urbanized areas – which are home to over half of the nation’s population – shows that the decline in per-capita driving has taken place in a wide variety of regions.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Milwaukee, Madison Top List of 100 American Cities Where People are Driving Less

A first-of-its-kind report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and released today by WISPIRG Foundation shows reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in Wisconsin’s urbanized areas—including Madison and Milwaukee —and greater use of public transit and biking.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Study Finds Technology Enabling Americans to Drive Less

In a first-of-its-kind study, WISPIRG compiled nation-wide evidence on transportation apps and vehicle sharing programs, like Madison Metro’s Bus Radar, Community Car and B-Cycle, and found that these advanced new tools have made it easier for Americans to drive less. Real-time apps and on-board wi-fi for public transit, as well as carsharing, bikesharing and ridesharing have spread rapidly in recent years. The report examines new evidence on how these practices are changing travel behavior.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

A New Way to Go

America is in the midst of a technological revolution … and a big shift in our transportation habits. Over the last 15 years, the Internet and mobile communications technologies have transformed the way Americans live and work. During that same period, growth in vehicle travel slowed and then stopped, with Americans today driving about as much on average as we did in 1996.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Road Overkill

A new report from the WISPIRG Foundation finds that usage of seven recently completed highways has not developed as projected, and questions whether building massive and costly new highways is the best way to spend Wisconsin’s scarce transportation resources. The report, Road Overkill: Wisconsin Spends Big on Questionable Highways Even as Driving Declines, also finds that Wisconsinites are driving less per capita today than we did in 1997, further raising doubts as to whether expensive new highways are the best investments for Wisconsin’s transportation future. 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

House Acts To Create Jobs, Put Nation On Path To Economic Stability

WISPIRG lauds today’s passage of H.R. 1, the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act by the United States House of Representatives.  According to Gary Kalman, the director of WISPIRG’s Federal Legislative Office, “This legislation will spark immediate economic growth and lay the foundation for continued prosperity in a quickly changing global economy.”

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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

New Study: Both Good Signs and Red Flags in State’s Transportation Stimulus Wish List

A new study of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) wish list, recently submitted to Congress for funding under a new economic recovery package, suggests that Wisconsin’s current project list both prioritizes projects that can help Wisconsin to address our biggest transportation problems, but also undermines efforts to repair and modernize our deteriorating infrastructure and reduce U.S. dependence on oil.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

Doyle Stimulus Proposal Would Move Some Key Projects for 21st Century Transportation, “Getting Wisconsin Back on Track”

Governor Doyle’s economic stimulus proposal to President-Elect Obama, which was released today, includes important 21st  century transportation projects for Wisconsin, including high speed intercity rail connecting Wisconsin’s major metropolitan areas, commuter rail in southeastern Wisconsin and Dane County, funding for transit agencies statewide, and funding for road and bridge repair and maintenance.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

High Speed Rail on the Horizon

A nationwide network of high speed bullet trains could soon be a reality thanks to bipartisan legislation introduced today by Senators Kerry (D-MA), Specter (R-PA) and at least a dozen other senators from both parties. The legislation provides two necessary components for such a system: dedicated funding and federal coordination.  The legislation includes financing for federally-designated rail corridors, one of which is the Chicago hub corridor -- a main segment of the Chicago corridor would run from Chicago to Minneapolis by way of Milwaukee and Madison. Senator Kohl (WI) is supportive of high-speed rail but was not a co-sponsor of this bill.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

Bush Approves Landmark Passenger Rail Investment

President Bush signed legislation today that will strengthen the nation’s intercity passenger rail network to accommodate record ridership and make possible new routes.

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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.

News Release | WISPIRG

Gov. Tony Evers today signed Wisconsin’s 2019-21 biennial budget, which includes positive steps to accelerate the state’s transition to electric vehicles and invests in Wisconsin’s local transportation infrastructure, including public transit.

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.

News Release | WISPIRG

As the legislature takes up the state budget this week, a coalition of consumer, civil rights and environmental organizations urged decisionmakers to prioritize investments in public transportation and local road maintenance, and to reject any new highway expansion projects in Wisconsin’s transportation spending plan.

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.

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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