Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
M odern economies and lifestyles would not be possible without extensive transportation systems. Yet, even as vital as they are, such systems mostly escape notice except when they do not function as expected. As the third decade of the 21st century approaches, however, expectations may well be turned upside down. Changes are coming at transportation from all directions, including potentially revolutionary technologies such as drones and automated vehicles, rapid innovations in urban transportation services, unreliable funding for infrastructure and operations, and possible changes in national policies affecting trade, climate, environmental protection, and sources of energy. The potential consequences of these changes could make future congestion, fuel consumption, and emissions either markedly better or markedly worse. Correspondingly, these potential changes could positively or adversely affect commercial truck, rail, aviation, and waterborne networks, with significant implications for the delivery of goods and services, personal travel, and the economy. In this edition of Critical Issues in Transportation, the TRB Executive Committee poses a series of challenging questions about potential critical issues that may arise 10 to 20 years into the future. These questions include interest in the implications of developing trends that might not fully manifest until beyond this period. The intent is to frame high-level questions that can be addressed during the next 5 to 10 years through research, policy analysis, and debate to help society prepare for the potentially unprecedented changes that lie ahead. The identified critical issues deserve attention because of transportationâs central and essential role in serving individuals and society and the many consequences it has, both favorable and not trb | transportation research board2 CRITICAL ISSUES IN TRANSPORTATION 2019
favorable, for the economy, safety, public health, and sustainability. The Executive Committee hopes that this document can serve to sharpen the collective understanding of transportation and its ramifications and encourage the analysis and research that will inform decisions by individual citizens and officials in both the public and private sectors. Although the issues have been identified and documented from a U.S. perspective, many of the issues are common across developed nations. Broad forces constantly affect transportation, including the daily personal travel aspirations of more than 300 million U.S. citizens, population growth and migration, economic growth and contraction, technological and scientific advances, human-made and natural disruptions, and changing trade relationships. These larger trends catalyze corresponding changes in transportation demand, passenger and freight flows, service preferences, and supply responses. The resulting transitions are inevitably a time of adjustment and lively debate about how transportation can, and should, most effectively evolve to support the changing social, economic, technological, environmental, and public policy context in which it must function. Understanding the broader environment that drives the demand for transportation, such as demographic change and economic growth, must be coupled with an appreciation of the goals that transportation strives to achieve, such as providing mobility and access through efficient system performance, safety, equity, sustainability, and resilience, and the conditions that drive transportation supply, such as financial and energy resources, governance, institutional capacity, and innovation. Opportunities for decision makers to improve transportation system performance across all of these different domains influenced the Executive Committeeâs choice of critical issues. Whereas the Executive Committee frames this document around current trends and potentially revolutionary technological change ahead, a healthy respect should be maintained about what can be known about future developments. Rarely do futures cooperate with the expectations of their predictors. Hence, a particularly important element in identifying critical transportation issues is preparing for the multiple evolutionary paths that may be taken by both the forces of change and societyâs attendant strategies to accommodate them. The issues identified in this document were generated from discussions by the Executive Committee and its Subcommittee for Planning and Policy Review. In addition to the members of the Executive Committee who made individual contributions, 23 transportation experts provided a critical review of the initial list, which led to a number of revisions. TRBâs Marine Board and the chairs of TRBâs standing committees and groups reviewed the revised list for coverage and balance, which led to further changes. Questions about critical issues, italicized in the text that follows, are grouped under 12 inter- related topics: 1. Transformational Technologies and Services 2. Serving a Growing and Shifting Population 3. Energy and Sustainability 4. Resilience and Security 5. Safety and Public Health 6. Equity 7. Governance 8. System Performance and Asset Management 9. Funding and Finance 10. Goods Movement 11. Institutional and Workforce Capacity 12. Research and Innovation Many issues span more than one topic area. For example, automation of transportation is currently of great interest in its own right, but can also have critical issues in transportation 2019 3