The study warns that a large number of the world’s transport systems cannot meet the needs of rapidly growing populations. It also highlights the environmental repercussions of unsustainable transportation planning – transportation accounts for 14% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the world’s cities.

With more than $14trn expected to be invested in global transport infrastructure projects by 2025, PWC is calling for a rapid evolution in transportation planning and policy techniques.

“Transportation needs are increasing all over the world and while the focus of developed and developing nations may differ, it’s clear that if these growing demands are to be met in a sustainable and connected way, a new future-focused and integrated approach is needed,” PwC’s Strategy& UK director Daniel Hanson said.

Technological revolution

The report claims that the design and operation of transportation systems should take advantage of technology advancements, such as autonomous vehicles and the growing ability of big data to assess, analyse, and predict real-time traffic flows.

It insists that improved techniques for analysing big data have the potential to deliver better planning decisions and real-time operational outcomes that can improve sustainability and inclusivity. The report encourages greater collaboration between public and private sectors across areas such as risk sharing to accelerate sustainability throughout the life-cycle of a project.

With the shift to an increasingly electrified and digital world, the report stresses there may be a need to redesign the electrical grid to ensure power is available to charge and operate a wide variety of vehicles and systems and take advantage of their ability to store and generate electricity themselves.

“Over the next few years, we’ll see a technological revolution in transportation that will not only affect individual and commercial users, but will inevitably drive new approaches by regulators, funders and policymakers,” PwC’s Strategy& senior executive director Edward Clayton said.

“Decisions made now will lock in the future shape of transport so it is vital that cities and nations get it right. Closer collaboration between governments, academics, systems developers, investors and users, will go a long way towards this goal.”

UK policymakers have taken major steps in recent weeks to improve the sustainability of the country’s transport system. The long-awaited Air Quality Plan released last month includes a ban on all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040.

Regulatory efforts have been matched by strong commitments by the automotive sector to accelerate the low-carbon vehicle transition. BMW last month announced that it is to build the first fully-electric version of the iconic Mini in the UK, days before Tesla handed over the keys to the first customers of its new Model 3.

George Ogleby

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