Original publication: October 2015
Authors: Greg Marsden, Peter Atkinson, Julian Burkinshaw, Holly Edwards, Ian Jones, Karen Lucas, Giulio Mattioli, Kate Palmer, Louise Reardon, Zia Wadud, Tony Whiteing, Magda Cepeda (Leeds) and Janine Morley (Lancaster)
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This study was published in the reference document “The World is Changing. Transport, Too”, Part I.


The world and the transport sector are changing.

The World is Changing. Transport Too.

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The (more and more urban) European population is growing and ageing which affect mobility needs and patterns. The rapidly developing mobile information and communication technologies give rise to new transport services/systems. Transport technologies are also evolving because the sector is pressed to run in a more ‘environmental-efficient’ way and is increasingly subject to global competition.

All these societal (e.g. sharing economy), technological (e.g. unmanned vehicles) and economic changes (e.g. E-commerce) have an impact on transport as a whole, whether it is long distance (e.g. multi-modal travel planning and integrated ticketing), urban (e.g. ‘Transportation Network Companies’) or freight transport (e.g. upheaval in logistics and delivery services).

This overview addresses this evolving context and the related challenges.

Part I, which is principally related to the major urban areas of the west of the continent, is about the new trends in transport demand and related impact on transport systems and patterns generated by changes in demography, mobile technologies and the internet.

Part II relates to changes in technologies to meet emerging urban mobility patterns. It shows that transport is undergoing massive digitisation. Furthermore it advocates alternative drive technologies and electric vehicles as the key technologies for a decarbonisation of the sector.

Part III provides an in-depth analysis of the role of regulation in preparing transport for the future. It notably underlines the regulatory implications of the current challenges affecting different transport modes and the mobility system as a whole.

PART I: New Trends in Transport Demand and Related Impact on Transport Systems and Patterns

There are five factors which will have significant influence on the demand for travel over the coming decade whatever actions are taken within the transport sector:

1. Population growth and immigration:
The growth in the population of the European Union and the ageing of this population will increase the demand for travel within the EU.

2. Migration and urbanisation:
In the preceding 15 years some countries have seen population growth of over 25% whilst others have lost almost 20% with a tendency to move towards Western Europe. There is also significant growth pressure on major cities and  particularly capital regions.

3. The changing nature of both work and employment market participation:
There will be a continuation of the participation of women in the labour market and increases in flexible working including part-time and role sharing. Overall there will be a net increase in travel demand but there will be a more diverse workforce with different demands.

4. Income growth:
The rise in income that should accompany increased employment and gross domestic product (GDP) growth will act as a continuing upward pressure on mobility in most areas. There will be increased disparities in income growth across the population which will influence how travel demand grows. It is anticipated that there will be growth of light commercial vehicle traffic in  particular and road freight will remain the dominant freight mode.

5. Mobile technologies and the internet:
Much focus has been on the potential of such technologies to substitute physical travel for virtual travel but there is no evidence to suggest that this reduces the amount of travel done. The rise of e-commerce seems to be creating a significant upward pressure for light commercial vehicle traffic in countries which have been strong early adopters. This pressure for growth will continue.

A critical observation across all of these factors is the need to understand the distribution of change spatially, across income groups, with disability and capacity to use and afford technology.

The most important changes that will have a clear relationship with demand resulting from transportation technologies is the price which citizens will face to travel in the coming decade. In particular this relates to changing engine efficiency, technology and fuel types. The commitment to a 95 g/km of CO2 for new car emissions by 2021 constitutes a 26% improvement on the 2015 standard and will, significantly reduce the costs of motoring and stimulate demand in many areas.

Whilst there will be a continued roll out of intelligent transport systems, integrated ticketing and shared mobility options it seems likely that this will happen at a slower pace than  many of the changes set out above with impacts being more local than European scale. In general, the demand impacts are small with the emphasis being on improving operational efficiency.

It is anticipated that there will be a continued and significant development in the application of increasingly intelligent real-time traffic management tools which will free up some additional network capacity through smoother flows. In addition, the continued transition of the vehicle fleet towards full automation will see improved in-vehicle driving experience. However, these technologies require investment (for fixed infrastructure schemes) and consumer acceptance and willingness to pay (for in-vehicle). Their roll out will therefore happen over several years and perhaps decades. Efficiency gains are soon likely to be swallowed up by the latent demand for travel in the congested areas where they are most typically deployed.

A transition to a fully automated driving system could be transformational as it fundamentally changes the role of the vehicle in the transport system. However, in the context of this report looking 15 years ahead, full automation will likely remain confined to niches and it will be a period of learning rather than transformation.

Mobility as a service will undoubtedly mature in the coming decade. However, it will need to be more attractive to users than the existing system so is most likely to emerge in large cities where the push and pull factors make the offering attractive as a replacement to owning a car.

Eight principal knowledge gaps have been identified in the course of developing the report which have been uncovered by considering gaps in the evidence base (Section 9.3). Eight recommendations for action at EU level have been derived from the report (Section 9.4):

1. Address the knowledge gaps in the changing influences on travel demand.
2. Develop a policy pathway for the pricing of transport.
3. Research the transition and deployment options for fully autonomous transport.
4. Continue to invest in programmes to address challenges in growing cities.
5. Establish new planning approaches for areas of no-growth or population loss.
6. Investment in solutions for more inclusive mobility systems.
7. Develop consumer-led regulatory approaches to unlock greater shared mobility.
8. Close the skills gap in the urban freight planning sector.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/563-424

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