Today’s Transportation Industry is Complex
America is undergoing extraordinary economic, demographic, and technological change. Eno’s work is laser focused on the dynamic trends affecting the purpose, need, and function of the transportation network, in order to encourage real and meaningful solutions in both policy and practice.
Throughout the Centennial, we will focus on eight key issues impacting the transportation industry today. These issues, outlined below, will provide the context for our work and help us build toward our shared vision: “a transportation system that fosters economic vitality, advances social equity, and improves the quality of life for all.”
Centennial Focus Issues
Learn More About the Focus Issues
Funding and Finance Strategies
Funding challenges loom large. While the emergency relief package from Washington staved off calamity in the short term, major concerns remain at all levels. Federal discretionary and mandatory programs both face significant shortfalls in the next three years. States, cities, and metropolitan areas will likely be forced to do more with less, opening up possibilities for collaboration, best practice sharing, and experimentation. The private sector is increasingly seeking to partner with public agencies to provide services and invest in and operate their transportation networks.
Safety and Security for the Next Century
Safety and security remain paramount goals across the globe and particularly for transportation. Over 35,000 people die each year in motor vehicle crashes and remains the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. At the same time, terrorist attacks on facilities around the world have put transportation officials on edge. Advanced technology offer promise to decrease crashes caused by human error, though concerns remain about cybersecurity threats across all modes of transportation. Preparedness will require addressing human behavior, vehicle designs, and infrastructure as well as working with key stakeholders to keep the transportation system
An Environmentally Sustainable and Resilient Future
Resiliency is an increasing concern as transportation infrastructure is exposed to extreme weather events, while simultaneously trying to evolve to meet changing demands. Resiliency refers to the capacity for people and goods to get from A to B seamlessly, with a choice of modes, in a way that will contribute to an individual, community, or city’s ability to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of stressors.
Workforce and Leadership in Transportation
More than 13 million jobs—about 9 percent of civilian workforce in the United States—are transportation-related. This workforce pipeline includes a multitude of professions from bus and truck drivers, to autoworkers and engineers, in both motorized and non-motorized modes. Due to industry growth, transportation also has the potential to be a major U.S. job creator. Millions of workers will need to be hired to fill vacancies created by occupational transfers, retirements and other exits. However, certain transportation sectors are already facing critical workforce shortfalls and new governance models sometimes fail to take into consideration adequate protections for existing workers.
Leveraging Technology to Improve Transportation Systems
Transformative technology continues to be deployed that enables greater efficiency, new actors, and more mobility options. Today, ubiquitous wireless network availability and an ever-growing array of mobile applications have created an environment in which information systems, shared vehicles, and on-demand services play an increasing role in metropolitan transportation. The potential impact of autonomous vehicles and unmanned aerial systems on society is vast, both positive and negative.
The Next Evolution for Governance Structures in America
Governance is at the core of any transportation issue. Public, private, and nonprofit actors are the machinery that enables the economy to function, compete effectively for employers and labor, and foster innovation. The ability of agencies to respond to changing and expanding demands varies across the country as is shaped to a large extent by a range of different institutional and organizational structures. Governance determines who makes decisions about capital and operating plans and sets out a process for how those decisions are made. Each structure has its own implications for funding, equitable and effective service patterns, and economic growth.
Multimodal Freight Policy and Innovation
As the American economy grows, so does the volume of freight. Expanding supply chains, just-in-time deliveries, and increasing competition means freight demand has grown faster than the population. Over 50 million tons of freight move across the U.S. transportation network every day on truck, train, barge, pipeline, and plane, with each mode responsible for carrying different goods in an interrelated network. Federal grant programs aim to target funding to freight bottlenecks and intermodal connectors while also supporting experiments in drone delivery. At the local level, policymakers are placing emphasis on managing curb space, reducing emissions, and more efficiently using space to deliver packages, food, and other essentials.
Urban Development Policies
The recent focus on equity and social justice for people of color plays out across most aspects of American life. Transportation planning and decision making have direct impacts on people and can advance equity. We need to understand the intentional and unintentional impacts of policy and practice to make transportation systems more accessible for all.