Can Transit Survive the 21st Century?

Saturday, May 6, 2017 | 4 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.
CM | 1.25
Add to My Log

You'll learn about:

  • Three key trends likely to impact and/or disrupt public transit over the next several decades
  • How other areas are planning for the changes these trends may bring
  • Strategies to engage stakeholders and make effective decisions in the face of rapid change 

Long-term thinking is crucial to the planning profession, though as planners we typically think at most on a 30-year horizon. This session will ask you to contemplate how public transportation fits into the world 85 years from now.

Looking backwards, public transit barely survived the 20th century. Will it survive the 21st? More to the point, should it? How do we as planners deal with the uncertainty of rapid technological, political, and demographic changes? Do we continue to invest billions into traditional public transit, even if no one uses it in the year 2100?  And  how do we engage the public in a meaningful way about these long-range uncertainties?

This facilitated discussion will share three case studies demonstrating key uncertainties over the next century: technological development (autonomous vehicles and shared mobility in particular), policy response to climate change, and demographic shifts and preferences. Explore these challenges and depart with not only a deeper understanding of key long-term uncertainties facing the transit industry but also robust planning options regardless of these uncertainties. 


Price Armstrong , AICP , Holyoke , MA (see bio)
Shannon Greenwell , MassDOT , Boston , MA (see bio)
Patrick Sullivan , Lexington , MA (see bio)