Welcome to the transport futures section of the Ministry of Transport website. The Ministry’s role is to take a whole of system, long-term view of the future of transport to help in our role as the Government’s adviser on transport. On these pages, we share our thinking on possible visions for the future of transport. These are not predictions of what will happen, just what could happen.
What sort of transport system do we want in the long-term? We hope these visions are the spark to ignite the debate - because it is today that we must create the transport system of the future
The Ministry of Transport’s Future Demand project explored the uncertainty of demand for personal travel by developing four future scenarios looking at the possible impact on travel. These are not predictions or preferences for the future transport system – rather a range of plausible futures that will help us make better investment decisions.
Technology is changing our world faster than ever before, and our transport system is changing with it. As we look at what’s being thought about and tested today, we can see a glimpse of the transportation future that our children and grandchildren will take for granted. The Ministry of Transport is imagining the future to help get ready for a bright new tomorrow where our transport system helps New Zealand thrive.
We are on the cusp of a technological revolution that will bring far greater road safety benefits than seatbelts and airbags combined. There will still be road safety issues, but they will be very different from those that occupy news headlines today.
Today, more than ever, we rely on data and intelligence when making our transport decisions. Growth in data creation and our ability to harness it will create a future transport system that will become smart, and eventually intelligent.
Aviation is constantly evolving, with new and improved technology making aircraft faster and more efficient. These advances, along with changes to scanning and security systems will mean in the future, catching a plane will be as easy as getting on a bus.
We can’t predict the future with certainty, but we do already have a sense of what is possible. Each story in this section looks into how different parts of our transport system could look in the future. We encourage you to read these and give us your feedback.
Explore your preferred transport future by sharing your view on our futures polls. Help us make our work better by giving us your feedback on our futures visions. What do you imagine is possible?
The Strategic Policy Programme looks into what kind of transport system New Zealanders will want and need, and how this could managed, provided and funded. Our transport network, regulatory framework, and funding systems are all components of this.
Exploring how the need for regulation may be different in 2025 and what tools will be available to shape behaviour. The project is considering ‘regulation’ in its broadest sense, including legislation, rules, education and social norms, and is examining all transport modes.
Exploring the long-term future of public transport in New Zealand. This Strategy Project will look thirty years ahead to create the environment for a discussion about the long-term future of public transport in New Zealand - the emerging ideas, the opportunities and the challenges.
This working paper explores the long-term future of public transport in New Zealand’s cities, in a world where transport technologies and services are rapidly evolving. It is intended to provoke dialogue, and to challenge the assumptions that public transport in thirty years’ time will look only slightly different from what we are familiar with today—or alternatively, that it has to look completely different in every way.
This working paper includes the following.
• Views on public transport: A summary of prevailing views on the future of public transport in New Zealand, based on interviews with transport experts and stakeholders.
• Four future scenarios: These scenarios do not describe what the future will be like. Instead, they envision how automation and urbanisation could affect urban transport in the future. We used these scenarios to explore implications for public transport and our cities.
• Insights from the futures: Implications of increasing automation and shared mobility for our public transport systems.
Key insights from the project
Our main message from this working paper is that public transport needs to be at the core of a shared mobility future. Otherwise, we risk facing higher levels of motorised traffic and congestion in our cities.
In high-density urban areas, we envisage a greater need for rapid transit systems – high frequency buses, light rail, and trains travelling on dedicated corridors – to move large volumes of people quickly, safely, and cleanly.
There are opportunities to connect rapid transit services with other parts of a shared mobility system. People could travel the first and last legs to/from public transport stations by shared shuttles, bikes, and scooters, with people seamlessly planning and paying for travel via personalised mobility apps. High quality infrastructure for walking and cycling to/from public transport stations could encourage more active travel, benefiting public health.
In low-density suburban areas, we envisage demand-responsive buses and shuttles replacing many scheduled bus services and routes. These could lead to better services for passengers, and a more efficient system.
Although this working paper focuses on ways that new technologies and services could affect transport and our cities, an underlying message is that our future should not simply be technology-led. We need to be discerning about new technologies, and shape them in ways that improve urban liveability and people’s wellbeing far into the future.
Download the working paper
• Public Transport 2045 working paper
• Background research on definitions and frameworks
• Historical trends and drivers of public transport
• Summary of interviews