Kate Mackay believes that our increasingly uncertain and ever more complex world requires transport planners to adopt a new approach.
The phrase ‘we don’t know what the future holds’ has never seemed more apt.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder that we live in a world of uncertainty. The sixth assessment report from the International Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading authority on climate science, found that some changes to the Earth’s climate are now inevitable and ‘irreversible’. The outcome will be more frequent and unpredictable extreme weather events and sea level rise, making it harder than ever to forecast the future, yet even more important that we achieve net zero.
As transport planners, we have witnessed an acceleration in pace of change impacting transport and travel behaviour over the past few decades. It’s now a more complex picture.
Digitalisation – on-demand services, ride sharing, connected travellers etc. – and the net-zero agenda were already disrupting transport planning and services, and the pandemic has added a further level of complication. How will we access goods, services, and opportunity post-COVID-19? Will public transport and flight passenger numbers recover? Will more people opt to drive to work rather than catch a bus or train? How many will be tempted to walk or cycle? What happens if there are future pandemics?