Reconnecting America People * Places * Possibility

Resource Center

The Future Isn't What It Used to Be: Changing Trends And Their Implications for Transport Planning

This paper examines demographic, economic and market trends that affect travel demand, and their implications for transport planning. Motorized mobility grew tremendously during the Twentieth Century due to favorable demographic and economic conditions. But many factors that caused this growth, such as declining vehicle operating costs and increased vehicle travel speeds, are unlikely to continue. Per capita vehicle ownership and mileage have peaked in the U.S., while demand for alternatives such as walking, cycling, public transit and telework is increasing. This indicates that future transport demand will be increasingly diverse. Transport planning can reflect these shifts by increasing support for alternative modes. Although this paper investigates trends in the U.S. and other wealthy countries, the analysis has important implications for developing countries.