As community transport providers we must ask the question ‘What will transportation look like in 2030?’

With the United Nations predicting that roughly 60% of the world’s population will live in cities by the year 2030 there will be a necessity to ask which new, bold modes of transportation will succeed.  Will they be visionary or will there be more of the same?   Will there be a one size fits all mentality and who and which country will lead the way? Will progress give way to more pollution as in Shenzhen currently where air quality closes down schools up to 20% of the year?

With less than 50% of pedestrians trusting self driving cars today, will the smiling cars of Sweden which interact with unprotected road users be the answer?   And how about the “Tripanel” access area that features a surface that switches between grass, asphalt and photovoltaic cells allowing electric vehicles of the future to recharge themselves as they move along, and also share with pedestrians.

There is no one answer to any of these questions, but there is one surety and that is that an integrated approach must be considered because access to mobility is imperative and an opportunity for us.  As we recognise that the older Australian live generally a healthier and longer life than previous generations, they also enjoy greater standards of living and look for better access to high quality mobility so that they can participate fully in the community.

In 2016, 15% of the Australian population (3.7 million) were aged 65 and over. The proportion of older Australians is expected to grow—to 22% (8.7 million) by 2056 and to 24% (12.8 million) by 2096.  In 2014, 76% of older Australians owned their own home.   What will these statistics be in 2030?

The ageing nature of Australia’s population, and the growing need for transport services, means community transport services are increasingly in demand, therefore we must not stagnate and don’t try and reinvent the wheel.   Draw on experiences from other developed countries where population ageing commenced earlier.  Stay true to your client base, it will grow. Look at your competitors.  Stray outside of what you are funded for.  Use spare capacity.  Broaden your horizon.  Think outside the square.

Local Government under which 30% of providers are auspiced will no longer exist as Community Transport is not a core business to this sphere of government.  The 10% embedded in agencies will disappear and the smaller services of the 60% who are Not for Profits will have amalgamated or diversified to survive.

The CT user of 2030 will be well educated, tech savvy, will manage their own funds and be demanding of the best service available.  No longer will they accept refusal of a requested service and what is known as community transport in 2016 with the provision of shopping trips, social outings and medical appointments will have morphed into a highly sophisticated business where choice will be paramount; and their dog will demand the same.  Will there be a Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme?  Will non-emergency health transport be given an extraordinary focus or will it diminish as we become ‘healthier?”  No! No! Yes!

Back in the good old days of 2010, Community Transport in Australia was the only transport system outside the mainstream public transport service for frail, aged and people with disabilities.   By 2016 we saw the emergence of Uber, Lyft, and Curb to name a few – all app based.  The National Disability Insurance Scheme was in full swing which provided choice.  Taxi owners who purchased taxi plates as investments transformed their modus operandi from curb to curb pick up to door to door pickup and delivery, to stay in the diminishing game.

In the USA as far back as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act ensured that providers of fixed route bus and rail services had to provide community transport “with service levels (including response times, trip length and fares) that were compatible to public transportation services provided to people without disabilities.”    But who co-ordianted it?  Outcomes poor – a rethink needed back then ….. and also now if we are going to be part of the 2030 Transport Paradigm.

Is flexible transport the answer?  There will have to be some coming together of minds if this is to work successfully, particularly from Government and policy makers at all levels, who currently operate in silos.   Will a mobility management system be the answer? Perhaps, but it takes courage in recognising that you, as a service provider does not own the client.

Are driverless electric or hybrid cars the solution to our transportation problems?  Programmed, responsive, green and accident proof – Maybe, so long as all the other vehicles on the road are precisely the same.  Does this model really auger well for social interaction and inclusiveness?

Transportation is in a tsunami of change. We can be wiped out if we live on the edge of the wave or we can be prepared and travel across great distances if we retain our energy, be innovative and dodge the debris along the way.

Just think ….. diversification, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, entrepreneurship and partnerships all equal the future.  Celebrate what community transport might be in 2030 and make sure you are part of it.