What will the local transport system look like in 2045? The future local transport system (1/11)

This was based on an interview I did for Marcus Enoch and the interesting New Zealand project PT2045. As it was an oral interview, it was a bit informal. I have edited, revised, and extended my transcribed remarks. Since their reports seem to be out, I will just report my interview, which I hope helped feed the report. This is an 11 part series.

1. What do you think the local transport system will look like in 2045? (think about the whole transport system, including private vehicles, active modes, as well as public and passenger transport)

  • What different types of local transport will be available in 2045?
  • How will attitudes towards vehicle ownership differ in 2045
  • Will there be new forms of transport or new ways of delivering transport services?

The most important change, will be the automation of vehicles – both private and public transport vehicles.

The second most important change is the conversion of the vehicle fleet to being primarily electric.

The third change is more tenuous, and focused on urban areas, is the rise of  shared mobility,  mobility-as-a-service,  where people won’t be owning cars, but instead will subscribe to a service, or buy the services on demand.

What types of transport will be available in 2045? I think private cars will still dominate most places. But  mobility-as-a-service, that is taxi types of services will be more common than today. Urban areas will have high frequency transit services in selected corridors. But in corridors that can’t support high-frequency public transport services, today’s low-frequency services will be replaced by mobility-as-a-service; instead of having a bus that comes once an hour, people will be using taxis – maybe single passenger taxis, maybe shared ride taxis – it’s hard to say. There will probably be a mix of those.

I’m guessing, there will be a lot of single passenger vehicles. The best example I have is the Toyota iRoad  vehicle, which is basically an enclosed motorcycle that’s safe and stabilised and, will, well before 2045, be automated. And it is safe because, not only is the vehicle designed well, with a roll bar and all that, but because all the other vehicles are also automated.

With automation, the bias western countries have against using motorcycles (and other powered two-wheeled vehicles) for transportation (as opposed to recreation)  will go away.

In terms of freight, I think that there will be a substitution of logistic services for a lot of shopping trips, and we need to think about that. In urban areas the best model I have seen was a demo of using a small robot for delivering goods from stores to people’s homes (see Starship Technologies), it only goes out when people say they are home, travels at walking speed. And it knows how to cross the street, and just waits in front of people’s houses until they remove their package, and it’s secure. So something like that as a delivery service in urban areas, I think, is highly likely.

I’m a little bit more sceptical of drone type of transportation, not that it won’t exist, but I don’t think that there will be a huge market for it, one could imagine specialised drivers or something like that. They used it in Minnesota for delivering beer to the ice fishermen on the lakes, but I don’t think that there’s a large market for drones, even if they are carrying 5kg goods, just because people aren’t going to want drones buzzing up and down over private property and it’s still going to be more expensive than doing this by ground, but we will see how that plays out.