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Australia’s prosperity has historically been built on the back of hard work, innovation and a willingness to adapt quickly to new ways of doing business, says Matt Nurse


he National Transport Commission (NTC) believes that new technology is poised to drive major changes in

the global transport sector. It is our view that this will occur through both incre- mental improvements to established technologies and, increasingly, disruptive innovations that could fundamentally change the way we see transport services being provided. In Australia, these technology changes

may play a significant role in reshap- ing many aspects of our land transport systems over the next two decades. We also believe changes in technology could influence the future role of government in transport regulation, planning, invest- ment and operations. The five main disruptive technologies

that are more likely to affect our transport systems over the next 25 years are: • automation • connectivity • big data and improved analytics • the sharing economy, and • zero emission vehicles.

Where will these technologies take us? Their effects could be vast and almost endless in terms of changing what we know and do today. It is tempting to spec- ulate on how far these ripples may spread. But instead, we

existing legal framework to better accommodate increasingly auto- mated vehicles.

• Less reliance on fossil fuels as more fuel-efficient and eventually electric vehicles use our roads. This would significantly reduce fuel-based rev- enue for governments and push them to adopt different types of ‘user pays’ models.

• A dramatic reduction in vehicles on our roads and a significant decrease in private vehicle ownership levels. These challenge current forecasts that see our roads getting more and more congested.

need to think not about what could happen, but what is more likely to happen. With this in mind, the NTC believes a plausible future land transport system in Australia could have some or all of the following characteristics: • Increased transport automation. This is now regarded as almost a given and we are now looking at what needs to be done to facilitate the deployment of more automated vehicles on Aus- tralian roads. This includes removing regulatory barriers and examining other possible adjustments to the 25

“big data, better analytics, connected vehicles and automation may allow businesses to provide highly personalised on-demand services”

WHY WOULD THIS HAPPEN? To put it simply: big data, better analyt- ics, connected vehicles and automa- tion may allow businesses to provide highly personalised on-demand serv- ices to customers and allow an increase in ride-sharing services. Some pundits suggest that a small number of com- panies will dominate in a future vehicle market, with large fleets of driverless vehicles servicing large customer bases. Some even suggest this could replace traditional public transport services in some instances, which challenges gov- ernment’s role in public transport. This future would also see consumers hav- ing a much greater range of


port options that they could move between seamlessly. The economics of shared automated vehicles may under- pin this. In such an envi- ronment of technol-

ogy-driven change, governments will need to respond quickly and decisively. Future regulatory models may need to address not only road safety concerns, but also data sharing, IT security and revenue issues. If fuel usage decreases dramatically, the current fuel-based revenue model will no longer work


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