We were keen to understand how transport experts in jurisdictions beyond New Zealand view the integration of digital technologies for transport in the future, and their society’s responses to these technologies.
The survey was based on themes and scenarios explored in the Ministry’s Regulation 2025 project. Participants were asked three questions to identify both likely and preferred futures.
This page summarises the survey results.
112 people responded to the survey. 71 were from Europe, 9 from Asia, 8 from North America, 8 from Australia and New Zealand, and 16 from other regions.
1. The most likely future for technologies
Participants were asked the following question:
In 2035, digital transport technologies are MOST LIKELY to:
- share protocols or standards across different brands, makes, or models of technology (enabling easy data sharing), or
- operate independently, with many incompatible systems developed by different companies (leading to high innovation but limited data sharing)
69 percent of respondents thought that technologies will most likely share protocols or standards.
2. The most likely future for society
Participants were then asked this question:
In 2035, people are generally...
- very cautious when it comes to new transport technologies, and hesitant to adopt them, or
- very attracted to new transport technologies, and keen to embrace them.
78 percent of respondents thought that their society will be very attracted to new technologies.
3. Most likely scenarios
Depending on the combination of responses to the first two questions, participants were allocated a future scenario that aligned with their views/assumptions about the world in 2035.
The four scenarios, illustrated in the diagram below, were:
- Collaborative Ride Share world — the transport system is well connected and integrated. People are not willing to let go of the steering wheel, but use technology to make transport choices and to find a ride.
- Super Autonomous Vehicles world — most people no longer own vehicles, and transport is delivered as a service by fleets of electric autonomous vehicles.
- Mega Choice Mobility world — people can choose from many different travel options and technologies, but there is little co-ordination between these options. Many people still own vehicles, but vehicle sharing and ride sharing are also popular.
- Privative Travel world — change has been incremental, compared to 2017. There are no fully-autonomous private vehicles, but vehicles are equipped with advanced technologies to assist drivers.
Most respondents (64 percent) chose Super Autonomous Vehicles world as the most likely scenario in their society. Results are summarised in the graph below.
4. Preferred scenarios
Participants were then asked which scenario they would prefer their society to be in by 2035. Results were more mixed this time, as highlighted in the graph below.
41 percent preferred Super Autonomous Vehicle world, 29 percent chose Mega Mobility world, 25 percent went for Collaborative Ride Share world, and Privative Travel world (the scenario that is closest to today) was the least popular option, with five percent.
Participants in this survey mostly had a positive view on the integration of future transport technologies, and society’s willingness to accept or embrace them.
These results contrast with informal surveys and conversations in New Zealand, where people are more sceptical about the successful integration of future technologies. This may reflect the fact that New Zealand is largely a technology taker from the rest of the world, and vehicles are imported from many different jurisdictions (each with their own standards). European countries, where most participants in the survey are based, already share many strict standards for vehicles and infrastructure in their region. These standards encourage or enforce integration.
It is interesting to note that participants are more divided on what sort of future they would most prefer for their society. Worlds with fleets of autonomous vehicles, diverse mobility services, and vehicle- and ride-sharing were almost equally popular. Of course none of these scenarios may develop in isolation. Many people are also likely to prefer a world with all of these options, to various degrees.
Different cities across the world, and within each country, will also evolve in their own directions. Just as Copenhagen is often characterised as ‘bike world’ today, London is seen as ‘public transport world’, and Los Angeles is ‘car world’, different cities could look more or less like the scenarios discussed above.
While the future is uncertain, one thing that we can be sure of is that transport systems will continue to evolve. New technologies will open up new options. A key question that societies around the world will need to consider is whether to step back and let new technologies shape our transport systems, cities, and living patterns or whether we should make a more conscious effort to shape transport systems in a particular direction.