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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Steering California’s Transportation Future: A Report on Possible Scenarios and Recommendations

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To investigate possible future transportation and land use scenarios for California as well as their likely precipitating policies and potential consequences, we convened a panel of 18 experts and used a novel variation of the Delphi method to systematically explore four specific scenarios and probe the desirability and likelihood of each. The scenario that panel members collectively thought most desirable for California (one with diverse transportation options and higher-density development) was also the one they thought least likely to materialize by 2050. This report describes the findings of the three surveys and two meetings that our method entailed and summarizes some of the discussion among panelists. We include reflections on the salient but unexpected finding that panelists viewed trust in government as both critical to effecting the scenario they considered most desirable and also lacking to such an extent that pursuing that desirable outcome could cause unintended consequences or outright failure. Accordingly, we discuss possible implications and outline policy recommendations for improving both processes and conditions that can instill in California’s government more trust, without which a future of multimodal transportation and higher-density, mixed land uses is unlikely to succeed.

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