Exploring the Future of Integrated Transportation Systems in the United States from 2030 to 2050: Application of a Scenario Planning Tool
Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) have primarily focused on systems management. To further improve connectivity and safety in the future, ITS might embrace a more holistic planning approach. While the future of ITS remains an open question, its evolution is closely linked to how the world evolves on many dimensions¾social, political, economic, legal, and environmental. In this paper, the authors present results from four expert workshops. These consisted of an initial steering committee workshop (February 2011), two expert scenario-planning workshops (June 2011), and a final steering committee workshop (July 2011). The scenario planning workshops explored the implications of alternative futures on ITS and incorporated a broad interdisciplinary approach in developing a long-term transportation vision (2030 to 2050 time horizon) for the United States.
Twenty-four experts, representing diverse disciplines, participated in a series of workshops to envision plausible futures and to assess their effects on the transportation system. By exploring different futures, experts identified opportunities and barriers for implementing advanced seamless transportation systems. Opportunities included the deployment of adaptable, integrated technology and transportation infrastructure to address natural disasters and climate change. The most significant barriers were funding and politics. The experts suggested that financial barriers be overcome through innovative funding techniques and improved public outreach. Building upon the experts’ recommendations, several visions for an integrated ITS approach, which addresses social and environmental challenges in the future, were created. These included private-public partnerships; distributed implementation models (e.g., localized); and the development of seamless transportation systems to reduce energy consumption, emissions, and road congestion.