The transportation industry is on the verge of a paradigm shift. Emerging technologies and societal trends will change the world as we know it today. Autonomous and connected vehicles can alone quadruple roadway capacity and make the roads virtually accident free. The “rise of the robots” may potentially eliminate jobs and revolutionize the labor force. Telework, telepresence, distance learning, distance medicines and e-commerce are becoming more common, which will impact travel patterns in the future. The economy is evolving from ownership to a shared model as the society is getting accustomed to collaborative consumption. Given the amount of unknowns, today’s planning tools are falling short of answering the policy questions of tomorrow.
At this juncture, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) developed a probabilistic scenario planning tool for emerging technologies and societal trends, called TransFuture. TransFuture allows the user to explore multiple futures in the planning process by anticipating the unknowns and by supplementing the traditional deterministic tools with a probabilistic analysis framework. The tool allows the user to create scenarios by selecting emerging trend attributes from a menu, conduct probabilistic analysis to understand and visualize the uncertainties, and make informed decisions about facility footprint and staging. It is a next generation scenario planning tool that considers a broader range of possibilities in the planning process, explicitly accounts for uncertainties to generate a probable range of outcomes, introduces flexibility in facility design, and helps future-proof transportation investments. The tool is being utilized by FDOT to plan for Future Corridors that will serve the mobility needs of people and goods for the next 50 years and will remain current and agile through the changing times.
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