The Transport Sector in 2050

Georgina Santos, Huw Davies, Abid Mehmood

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On the basis of an in-depth literature review, we jump to the year 2050 and we ask what the transport sector will look like then. Many of the problems we struggle with today will be substantially reduced thanks to the unprecedented speed of change. Transport externalities such as air pollution and noise, climate change, traffic accidents and congestion (particularly in city-centres and motorways) will decrease and could even virtually disappear. Alternative energy vehicles (such as for example, electric and fuel cell vehicles) will lead to zero air pollution and zero CO2 emissions. Automated vehicles combined with the digital age will lead to zero accidents and zero congestion. Freight and passenger vehicles will be self-driving and run on electricity, hydrogen or some other form of energy. Transport networks will be integrated and smart, able to sense demand, measure performance and respond in real time. Public transport will run on electronic tickets and contactless payments (with minimal waste of paper tickets), and will also benefit from automated vehicles running on clean energy. Issues likely to emerge, very different from contemporary transport externalities, include the regulatory and legal framework in which all these changes will fit in. For example, how could a computer software be programmed to decide between a car avoiding a pedestrian or bumping into another vehicle, potentially killing its passenger(s)?; would complete digitation mean that consumers loose privacy?; would stranded unburnable fossil fuel assets cause a collapse of the global financial system? We conclude that the questions and problems will be very different from the current ones and will require innovative forward looking solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventWinter Conference 2015: Great Transformation: Recasting Regional Policy - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Nov 201520 Nov 2015


ConferenceWinter Conference 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • autonomous vehicles
  • disruptive technologies
  • Internet of things
  • electric vehicles
  • fuel cell vehicles
  • low carbon
  • smart mobility
  • digital age


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