2018 National Planning Conference

Scenario Planning for Managing Transportation Unknowns

Monday, April 15, 2019, 4:15 p.m. - Monday, April 15, 2019, 5:30 p.m. PDT

CM | 1.25

Activity Type: Educational Sessions

Activity ID: NPC198165

Location: 2002

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  • Understand the role of scenario planning in supporting confident transportation planning decisions.
  • Apply scenario planning to better prepare for the opportunities, challenges, and uncertainty that may arise with automated vehicles and other transportation innovations.
  • Identify other transportation planning challenges to which a scenario planning approach may apply.


Scenario planning enables planners to navigate the uncertain effects of emerging technologies. Using these techniques, planners can help their stakeholders and communities develop robust scenarios of how various future forces interact. These include rate of technological development, mode of deployment, public acceptance and adoption, legal requirements, and other forces. Scenarios help planners explore and prioritize a wide range of possible responses, understand the risks and opportunities under different conditions, and adapt effectively to unexpected developments.

Responding to the rapid emergence of new transportation technologies, such as connected and autonomous vehicles and transportation network companies (TNCs) is complicated by their very uncertain outcomes. The benefits of these technologies can be maximized, while the negatives can be minimized, depending on how they unfold. Walking, cycling, and transit may coexist happily alongside connected/autonomous vehicles, with TNCs serving as a first-/last-mile or gap-filling solution. Sustainable shared-use systems may be viable at affordable price points. But if automated vehicles are deployed primarily as private vehicles, they may increase vehicle miles travelled and aggravate sprawl. This session explores how scenario planning can clarify these dynamics and support confident decisions that help realize each community’s transportation vision despite the uncertainty about what might happen.

Session Speakers

Jeremy Raw
Federal Highway Administration
Washington, DC

Brett J. Fusco
Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
Philadelphia, PA

Janae Futrell, AICP
Civic Sphere
Atlanta, GA