For decades, transportation experts have anticipated a sweeping technological transformation of the way Americans travel, and the transportation system they use to do so. That transformation has arrived, as the same digital technologies that have reshaped other sectors of the economy, from finance to retailing, are rapidly re-wiring the networks that provide mobility to hundreds of millions of Americans. The changes associated with these innovations are being felt at all scales – from individual trip planning to the design and management of regional mass transit systems.
In this report, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and produced in partnership with New york University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management we presented a set of four alternative scenarios set in major American metropolitan areas in the year 2030. These stories are neither too close to our present day (so that there is sufficient time for change to occur on a large scale), too far out in the future (so that they stem logically from actions taken today), too focused on a single technology or event (so that they capture the richness of technological and social co-evolution), nor too binary (so that we can consider a range of actions and outcomes).
These scenarios were designed to be thinking tools that challenge policymakers to question assumptions, ask new questions, and highlight the complex interactions between technological innovation, business, and public policy that will shape our future transportation system and the cities they serve.