Shifting gears – preparing for a transport revolution

Report of a study by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering
Transport Infrastructure Freight Innovation Emissions reduction Transit oriented development Electric vehicles Transport integration

The rapid advancement of digital technologies across all sectors of the global economy has resulted in an extraordinary period of change.

With Australia’s geographic isolation and long distances between large urban centres, the transport sector will be one area that is both significantly disrupted and revolutionised by this technological transformation.

Failure to be prepared will risk a decline in many aspects of our Australian way of life and society. For example, inadequate planning for population growth and the spread of urban centres could significantly impede the mobility of passengers and freight in both urban and regional areas. This could increase congestion and vehiclerelated emissions, lead to a deterioration in health, safety and security, and negatively impact productivity and the cost of living.

In this early phase of the transition, it is critical that Australia identifies what we want for our society, what action government and industry need to take, and how this will translate to a transport sector for the future.

The Academy has identified sustainability and climate change, productivity, and health as the three key challenges that will need to be addressed within the transport sector over the next decade. Specifically, the transport sector will need to lower emissions, improve the efficient movement of people and freight, and reduce transport-related deaths and serious injuries. The deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), low and zero emission vehicles (LEVs), high frequency mass transport, and intelligent transport systems (ITS) are potential solutions to these challenges.

To gauge Australia’s readiness to address these challenges, and to provide context for Australia’s readiness to develop, adopt or adapt to the pending changes by 2030, the Academy has analysed each of these potential transport solutions against five readiness indicators:

  • infrastructure readiness
  • skills availability
  • social readiness
  • economic and commercial feasibility
  • policy and regulatory readiness

This analysis was informed by research and targeted consultations with transport stakeholders from industry, government and research from across Australia, and its development was overseen by a Steering Committee comprising Fellows of the Academy and transport experts.

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