New report draws attention to need to focus on multimodal transportation

By Mary Ebeling

NCHRP Project 20-24 89(B) , “The Role and Value of Transportation in America’s Economy,” highlights the need to develop a collective appreciation for the modern demands on the nation’s multimodal transportation system. The research team considers four thematic case studies reflective of the major sectors influencing current and future transportation. These sectors are: agriculture, domestic energy, e-retail, and the next-generation workforce. This research is well timed. Many state DOTs and other transportation agencies are planning for the rebuilding and restructuring of an aging transportation system.

The report emphasizes that the needs of the next-generation workforce, or Millenials, should be an important part of project planning and delivery discussions at state and local transportation agencies. Multiple studies have shown that Millenials exhibit a preference for urban residential and employment locations that offer multiple transportation options in addition to the car. This population group will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, so they will clearly have a strong influence on future transportation trends. If decision makers truly want to prioritize job growth in cities and urban regions, they need to provide the transportation options desired by this population.

Rather than producing the typical written report, this NCHRP project centers on an interactive website, short videos, and white papers to highlight these key economic and demographic sectors. Balancing the needs of urban travel, and greater multimodalism, is not a new challenge, but one that grows in immediacy as agencies plan for a transportation system for current and future generations.

Mary Ebeling is a Transportation Policy Analyst at SSTI.