Building sustainable, inclusive transportation systems: A framework for the future

Building sustainable, inclusive transportation systems: A framework for the future

Transportation needs are increasing all over the world — in developed regions seeking to grow their economies while reducing carbon emissions, and in developing regions where vast numbers of people are, for the first time, accessing global markets. A call for advanced 21st-century networks of roads, airports, shipping facilities, train routes, and public transportation is resounding in cities, small communities, and rural areas alike. Investment in transportation infrastructure is surging globally, with money going into the development of new transportation systems as well as upgrades and extensions of older ones. At the same time, the transformation of the global economy through digitization is driving new patterns of transport for both goods and people.

In both urban and rural communities around the globe, the challenge of moving people and cargo efficiently, safely, and sustainably — while providing transportation for all segments of society, not just the wealthy — remains a problem begging for new solutions in our increasingly globalized, urbanized, digitized, and environmentally compromised world. Long-established theories and techniques of planners and policymakers must evolve if they are to help sort out our ever more complex transportation infrastructure. We must embrace new methods and new technologies if we are to build and operate transport systems that deliver these goals while functioning inclusively, to the benefit of all.

The problems are many. Planners and policymakers need to consider that a large number of the world’s transport systems cannot meet the needs of rapidly growing populations, and many passengers face safety, security, and accessibility issues. Investors need to rethink traditional approaches to cost-benefit analysis so that investments capture as many of the different impacts of transport as possible, and do so in a way that balances rigor with innovation.

If transportation planners and policymakers can successfully address these challenges, they will make a major contribution to improving the lives of people in all types of communities — large and small, central and remote — while at the same time protecting nature and making it possible to deliver the benefits of economic growth in a sustainable, inclusive way.

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