The world of transportation is changing. Due to increasing mobility demand, challenges like financing, dealing with emissions, and volatile oil prices are accentuated. Decision-makers in the areas of policy and planning have to address these challenges and have to try to develop a transportation system capable of meeting the future needs of society and the economy. Thus there is a need for conceptions of the future system as guidelines for decisions. Besides developing new mobility solutions, adapting to a changing world of energy dependencies and addressing social developments will be the main tasks for decision-makers.
This paper shows the results of future-oriented research based on the qualitative analysis of megatrends, which were used to describe the main trends setting the direction for future development in transportation and their likely effects. Based on the question of whether there is a transformation – a process of actively supporting change in the transportation system according to trends and changes in frame conditions – going on, an analysis of current policies provides a different conclusion. The change in transportation appears as a process of substitution within the boundaries of the fossil-fueled world rather than as a transformation in the sense of a fundamental change.
Finding alternative development paths would require a perception of transformation as a process of actively shaping and redirecting the system by anticipating and addressing future challenges. Starting points and impulses in this context are rare and to be found in strategies of China, in other parts of Asia, and in Europe. The approach of using recent, established, and prospective, uncertain megatrends with their potential impact as a basis to provide a future perspective on change processes turned out to be an appropriate way to identify starting points for further
research, which should integrate quantitative analysis. Furthermore, additional future-oriented research on megatrends would be needed to accommodate the complexity of the systemic perspective.
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