Category Archives: reprogramming mobility

Trend Report: Re-Programming Mobility

The latest in our series of findings from our ongoing work on “Re-Programming Mobility” is a trend report and set of research notes highlighting key findings from our year-long survey of more than 150 sources highlighting new technologies and services shaping the future of transportation, new scientific discoveries, forecasts and speculation, and emerging conflicts.  (A complete source bibliography is available at

They are a compendium of trends and signals about the ongoing and future transformation of mobility in the United States as a growing wave of innovation employing digital technologies and services take hold between now and 2030.

These notes are organized according to four alternative future scenarios we are developing which will be published in early September 2014. They are intended as a sneak preview of the key themes of each scenario, a supplement to the scenarios themselves, as well as an informational resource for the research community.

The complete set of scenarios will be published in early September.

Download the Trend Report.


Re-Programming Mobility: A Bibliography of Source Materials

The latest release from our Re-Programming Mobility research project is a complete bibliography of the 150+ source documents that provided much of the raw material for the four scenarios of mobility in U.S. metro areas in 2030, which will be published in early September.

The project has sought to bring more scrutiny to the public debate over the impacts of new digital technologies and services on transportation, land use, and planning.  Key questions include:

  • What new technologies and services will have the broadest impact on mobility? Which will have more focused, but transformative, impacts on niche markets?
  • How will new technologies and services impact land use patterns?
  • What kinds of organizational changes will transportation regulators, funding agencies, and planning institutions need to begin preparing for now, and what kinds of skills and practices will transportation planners need in the future?

To shed light on these questions, over the last year, our research team has conducted a comprehensive horizon scan of current debate over the nature and impact of these new technological innovations. Our analysis draws on hundreds of documents – research articles, case studies, news reports, and opinions and essays – produced by transportation experts, technology experts, journalists, and amateur observers.  From these source materials we have identified many more new technologies, new scientific discoveries, forecasts and speculation, and emerging conflicts. Some of these documents helped us identify patterns in the emerging discourse and speculation around trends in transportation, others provided expert insights and recent research findings with major impacts for future cities.

Airsage. “The Future of Transportation Studies.”

Airsage. “An Industry on the Move: The Airsage Annual Transportation Survey.” Airsage. August 15, 2013.

Alan, Christopher. “Auto Parkit: A Parking Revolution Comes to Urban America.” The Planning Report. June 5, 2013.

Alter, Lloyd. “Google Unveils Its Designs for a Self-driving Car, and It Will Change Our Cities and Suburbs.” Treehugger. May 28, 2014.

Alter, Lloyd. “How the Self-driving Car Might Make Our Cities Better and Greener.” Treehugger. June 17, 2013.

“Millennials & Mobility: Understanding the Millennial Mindset.” American Public Transportation Association (APTA). October 2013.

Arieff, Allison. “Driving Sideways.” New York Times. July 23, 2013.

Arup, and Josh Levi. “New York City 2050.” Arup Connect. December 3, 2013.

Asymobi blog. May 18, 2014.

Badger, Emily. “Driverless Vehicles Will Force Us to Rethink Car Ownership.” Washington Post. April 18, 2014.

Badger, Emily, “What the Rise of Technology Has to Do With the Decline of Driving”, CityLab, October 1, 2013.

Badger, Emily. “What Will Happen to Public Transit in a World Full of Autonomous Cars.” CityLab. January 17, 2014.

Benfield, Kaid, and Lee Epstein. “Whither Intelligent Vehicles and Automated Highways.” Switchboard. June 17, 2013.

Berg, Nate. “What Running Out of Power in a Tesla on the Side of a Highway Taught Me About the Road Trip of Tomorrow.” CityLab. April 29, 2014.

Bilton, Nick. “The Money Side of Driverless Cars.” New York Times. July 9, 2013.

Bilton, Nick. “Disruptions: How Driverless Cars Could Reshape Cities.” New York Times. July 7, 2013.

De Boer, Joop. “Turtle Taxi: Push The Button To Slow Down Your Ride.” Pop Up City. May 19, 2014.

Burgess, Kaya. “No Place for Cars’ in Cities of the Future.” The Times. July 15, 2013.

Burns, Lawrence D., William C. Jordan, and Bonnie A. Scarborough. “Transforming Personal Mobility.” (The Earth Institute, Columbia University: New York). January 27, 2013.

Burns, Larry. “Test-Driving Driverless Cars.” Project Syndicate. August 15, 2013.–burns.

Byrd, H, et al. “Measuring the Solar Potential of a City and Its Implications for Energy Policy.” Energy Policy. 2013.

Chase, Robin. “Will a World of Driverless Cars Be Heaven or Hell?” CityLab. April 3, 2014.

Chin, Ryan. “Solving Transport Headaches in the City of 2050.” BBC. June 18, 2013.

Chu, Serena. “Google Glass App Helps Bikers Navigate Without Phones.” Psfk. September 25, 2013.!6uISV.

Conway, Peter. “The Next Autonomous Car Is A Truck.” Strategy+Business. May 28, 2013.

Cranshaw, Justin. “Whose “City of Tomorrow” Is It? On Urban Computing, Utopianism, and Ethics.” 2013.

DeChant, Tim. “In 40 Years, Will Self-driving Cars Send Us Packing for the Suburbs?” Per Square Mile Blog. March 20, 2014.

Diana, Carla. “Talking, Walking Objects.” New York Times. January 26, 2013.

“An Internet of Airborne Things.” The Economist. December 1, 2012.

“How to Be Urban.” The Economist. June 1, 2010.

Eubanks, Cormac. “These Drones Will Save Your Life.” Design Mind. January 17, 2014.

Fang, Eric. “The Case for Age-Friendly Suburbs.” Planetizen Blog. April 5, 2013.

Feige, Irene. “The Future of Mobility – Scenarios for the Year 2025.” In Trends and Issues in Global Tourism.

Ferro, Shaunacy. “SmartWalk Turns Any Surface Into A Subway Tracker.” Fast Company Design Blog. April 14, 2014.

Fiorindo, Greg. “Parking: Can Technology Tackle the Great Unsolved Urban Problem?” Meeting of the Minds Blog. July 23, 2013.

Flegenheimer, Matt. “Bloomberg’s Traffic Ideas: First the World, Then, Maybe, the City.” New York Times. July 13, 2013.

“Megacities on the Move: Your Guide to the Future of Sustainable Urban Mobility in 2040.” Forum for the Future. November 2010.

Gandelsonas, Mario. “Soft Infrastructure: Interview with Mario Gandelsonas.” GRIDS Blog. October 10, 2011.

Garthwaite, Josie. “RidePal to Help Bay Area Residents Commute Like Google Employees.” New York Times. March 1, 2012.

“Fed Telework Could Save $11 Billion a Year.” Global Workplace Analytics. September 17, 2013.

Goldwyn, Eric. “Why UberX Will Win in the End.” CityLab. April 17, 2014.

Gorton, Mark. “Using Information Technology to Achieve a Breakthrough in Transportation in New York City.” StreetsBlog.

“THE MAYOR’S VISION FOR CYCLING IN LONDON: An Olympic Legacy for All Londoners.” Greater London Authority. March 2013.

Greene, Will. “E-Services Help Tame Manila’s Traffic Mess.” Techonomy. April 10, 2014.

Hardy, Quentin. “Mapping Our Interiors.” New York Times. May 18, 2014.

Hudson, Kris. “Cities Cut Parking Mandates.” Wall Street Journal. July 9, 2013.

Hull, Dana. “The BART Strike: A Boon For Sidecar And Uber.” Siliconbeat. July 1, 2013.

Jaffe, Eric. “Using Insights and Incentives to End Rush Hour.” CityLab. May 15, 2014.

Jaffe, Eric. “No, Ride-Sharing Is Not the Death of Public Transportation.” CityLab. July 11, 2013.

Jaffe, Eric. “How Tolls Could Help Prevent a U.S. Transportation Crisis.” CityLab. May 7, 2014.

Jaffe, Erik. “Imagine: A World Where Nobody Owns Their Own Car.” CityLab. February 13, 2014.

Jaffe, Eric. “Has the Rise of Online Shopping Made Traffic Worse?” CityLab. August 2, 2013.

Janson, Chris. “10 Ways Intelligent Transportation Makes a Difference.” UBM’s Future Cities. May 19, 2014.

Kaplan, Greg. “Understanding the Long-Run Decline in Interstate Migration.” CityLab. April 2012.

Lanzendorf, Martin. “Mobility Biographies: A New Perspective for Understanding Travel Behaviour.” August 2003.

Laursen, Lucas. “How Self-Driving Cars Will Sneak Onto Our Roads.” IEEE Spectrum. April 30, 2014.

Lavrinc, Damon. “Mercedes Is Testing Google Glass Integration, and It Actually Works.” Wired. August 15, 2013.

Lawler, Ryan. “Dispatch From The Future: Uber To Purchase 2,500 Driverless Cars From Google.” Techcrunch. August 25, 2013.

Leber, Jessica. “Looking More Closely at the Way People Move through Cities.” MIT Technology Review.

Lee, Dave. “Self-driving Car given UK Test Run at Oxford University.” BBC News. February 14, 2013.

Lee, Timothy B. “Low-income Countries Might Get Drone Deliveries before the U.S. Here’s Why.” Washington Post. December 3, 2013.

Lev-Ram, Michael. “The End of Driving (as We Know It).” Fortune. June 12, 2014.

Levinson, David. “Pricing With and Without Reservations.” Transportationist Blog. June 18, 2013.

Levinson, David. “What Ever Happened to Traffic?” Transportationist Blog. November 7, 2013.

Mann, Ted. “Taxi-Hail Apps Mostly Used Outside Manhattan and at Odd Hours.” Wall Street Journal Metropolis Blog. August 5, 2013.

Markoff, John. “At High Speed, on the Road to a Driverless Future.” New York Times. May 27, 2013.

Markoff, John. “”Police, Pedestrians and the Social Ballet of Merging: The Real Challenges for Self-Driving Cars.” New York Times. May 29, 2014.

Markoff, John. “Google’s Next Phase in Driverless Cars: No Steering Wheel or Brake Pedals.” New York Times. May 27, 2014.

Martinez, Marcus, and Amna Ansari. “Shuffle City.” Alloybuild.

McCrum, Dan. “Insurers Will Destroy Themselves to Nudge Us Into Robot Utopia.” Financial Times. March 4, 2013.

McGrane, Sally. “Car Sharing Grows With Fewer Strings Attached.” New York Times. June 25, 2013.

“Helsingin Bussiliikenne Oy (Helsinki Bus Transportation Company) Saves Money, Boosts Customer Satisfaction with Power BI for Office 365.” Microsoft. April 22, 2014.\

Mims, Christopher. “Commentary: Uber’s $18.2B Valuation Is a Head Scratcher.” Wall Street Journal. June 6, 2014.

Mui, Chunka. “Google Car + Uber = Killer App.” Forbes. August 23, 2013.

Mui, Chunka. “Dispatch From 2023: Google Considers Buying 250,000 Driverless Cars From Tesla, But Buys Tesla Instead.” Forbes. August 29, 2013.

Neil, Dan. “Driverless Cars for the Road Ahead.” Wall Street Journal. September 27, 2013.

Newton, Casey. “Uber Will Eventually Replace All Its Drivers with Self-driving Cars.” The Verge. May 28, 2014.

Orange PCS. “The Way to Work: Space, Place and Technology in 2016″ 2006.

Ortman, S.G., A.H.F. Cabaniss, J.O. Sturm, and L.M.A. Bettencourt. “The Pre-History of Urban Scaling.” PLoS ONE. 2014.

De La Peña, B., and R. Albright. “Catalyzing the New Mobility in Cities: A Primer on Innovative Business and Service Models.” Rockefeller Foundation. 2013.

Peterson, Molly. “Is Ridesharing the Future of Public Transit Systems, or the Failure of Them?” Southern California Public Radio. July 8, 2013.

Plumer, Brad. “Will Driverless Cars Solve Our Energy Problems — or Just Create New Ones?” Washington Post Wonkblog. March 30, 2013.

Quain, John R. “Mapping Apps Follow the Crowd.” New York Times. May 30, 2014.

Rajarman, Sunil. “What Is the Impact of Uber, Homejoy and Others on the Transportation and Housekeeping Industries?” Huffington Post. April 16, 2014.

Research and Innovative Technology Administration. “ITS Strategic Research Plan, 2010-1014.” October 2012.

Roberts, David. “This Is How You’ll Get There.” The American Prospect. January 31, 2010.

Roberts, David. “Sometimes a Driverless Car Is Not Just a Driverless Car: Thoughts on Widgets and Systems.” Grist Blog. February 1, 2013.

Romem, Issi. “Self-driving Cars: A Force for Urban Densification or Expansion?” Meeting of the Minds Blog. June 11, 2013.

Romem, Issi. “How Will Driverless Cars Affect Our Cities?” Meeting of the Minds Blog. March 25, 2013.

Roose, Kevin. “Transit Strike Shows the Dark Side of Silicon Valley’s Privatization Fetish.” New York Magazine Intelligencer Blog. July 2, 2013.

Rose, Jonathan. “5 Crucial Principles for 21st Century Transportation Systems.” CityLab. May 29, 2014.

Rosenblatt, Seth. “Even Limited to 25 Mph, Google’s Car Will Arrive Faster than You Think.” CNET. May 29, 2014.

Sadowski, Jathan. “Delivered by Drones: Are Tacocopters and Burrito Bombers the next Pony Express?” Slate. August 6, 2013.

Salesses, Philip, Katja Schechtner, and César A. Hidalgo. “The Collaborative Image of The City: Mapping the Inequality of Urban Perception.” 2013. PLoS ONE.

Salmon, Felix. “How Roads Could Beat Rail.” Reuters. January 24, 2013.

Sankin, Aaron. “”Leap Transit, San Francisco Private Bus Company, Gives Muni Some Competition.” Huffington Post. May 29, 2013.

Schwartzstein, Peter. “In Cairo, Widespread Sexual Harassment Is Also Making Traffic Congestion Worse.” CityLab. May 9, 2014.

Scola, Nancy. “The Very Big Thing That Uber, Lyft and Sidecar Didn’t Get From California.” Next City. August 6, 2013.

Scott, Mark. “Uber Faces Rebukes in Europe.” The New York Times. April 17, 2014.

Seelye, Katherine Q. “To Lure Bostonians, New ‘Pop-Up’ Bus Service Learns Riders’ Rhythms.” New York Times. June 4, 2014.

Shaheen, Susan A., Madonna L. Camel, and Lee Kunik. “Exploring the Future of Integrated Transportation Systems in the United States from 2030 to 2050: Applications of a Scenario Planning Tool.” 2013. Transportation Board Annual Meeting.

Shaheen, Susuan, and Matt Christensen. “The True Future of Transportation Has Two Big Barriers to Entry.” CityLab. April 25, 2014.

“Smart City Gran Concepcion.”

Smith, Bryant W. “Automated Vehicles Are Probably Legal in the United States.” Stanford University Center for Internet and Society. November 1, 2012.

Smith, Stephen J. “San Francisco Cuts ‘Cruising’ for Parking in Half With Market-Clearing Prices.” Next City. April 2, 2014.

Sottek, T.C. “Google’s Car Could Be the Best Thing Ever for Privacy on the Road: Ducking the Police May Be a Lot Easier in the Future.” The Verge. May 30, 2014.

“Lightweight Flatpack Truck Can Be Assembled in a Day.” Springwise Blog. June 19, 2013.

Steiniger, Karl, and Gabriel Bachnera. “Extending Car-sharing to Serve Commuters: An Implementation in Austria.” Ecological Economics. 2014.

Steinmetz, Katy. “Coddle Models: Cars That Can Steer Themselves–at a Dealer near You.” Time. July 1, 2013.,9171,2145999,00.html.

Stenquist, Paul. “As Workload Overwhelms, Cars Are Set to Intervene.” New York Times. April 5, 2013.

Stewart, Jack. “The Secret Nerve Center under LA’s Streets.” BBC. May 19, 2014.

Sundararajan, Arun. “Trusting the Sharing Economy to Regulate Itself.” New York Times. March 3, 2014.

Templeton, Brad. “New Design Factors for Robot Cars.” Templetons Blog.

Templeton, Brad. “The Robocar and the Bicycle.” Templetons Blog. September 28, 2013.

Templeton, Brad, “Driving the Robocar Revolution”, 7DEE, Sept. 24, 2013.

“Introduction of On Demand Buses.” Tokyo University.

Tomio, Geron. “While BART Strikes Continues, Do Ride-Sharing Apps Complement Or Undercut Public Transit?” Forbes. July 3, 2013.

Torbert, Roy, and Blake Herschaft. “Driving Miss Hazy: Will Driverless Cars Decrease Fossil Fuel Consumption?” Rocky Mountain Institute Blog. January 25, 2013.

“Survey: To Recruit and Keep Millennials, Give Them Walkable Places with Good Transit and Other Options.” Transportation for America. April 22, 2014.

Trop, Jaclyn. “Detroit, Embracing New Auto Technologies, Seeks App Builders.” New York Times. June 30, 2013.

“Few U.S. Cities Are Ready for Aging Baby Boomer Population.” USA Today. March 25, 2012.

Vlasic, Bill, and Matt Richtel. “Voice-Activated Technology Is Called Safety Risk for Drivers.” New York Times. June 12, 2013.

Wallgren, Marten. “WINNER! (SeymourPowell Award) For…” Marten Wallgren Blogspot. June 14, 2009.

Walsh, Ben. “”Self-Driving Cars Are Still Cars—Which Means They Won’t Improve Your Commute.” New Republic. May 29, 2014.

Webber, Melvin. “Order in Diversity: Community Without Propinquity.” In Cities and Space: The Future Use of Urban Land. (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1963) pp 23-54.

Yoshida, Junko. “Metcalfe’s Law & the Future of Driving.” EE Times. August 23, 2013.

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Zax, David. “A World Without Car Crashes.” CityLab. February 11, 201.

Zmud, Johanna, Liisa Ecola, Peter Phleps, and Irene Feige. “The Future of Mobility: Scenarios for the United States in 2030.” Rand. 2013.

Re-Programming Mobility: A Literature Review, And More to Come…

Over the next several weeks, the Rudin Center will be releasing a series of white papers and reports from our research project on Re-Programming Mobility: Getting Around Metropolitan America in 2030 and the Coming Crisis in Transportation Planning, which has been led over the last 12 months by Dr. Anthony Townsend.

Every Monday in August we will be releasing material from the Re-Programming Mobility project including a bibliography, a technology signals report, an article examining two case studies of technology and regional mobility in the US and UK, and a set of four alternative futures scenarios exploring technological change and land use in US metropolitan areas.

Today, we are pleased to announce the release of a white paper authored by Prof. Andrew Mondschein of the University of Virginia (and a former research scientist at the Rudin Center). This white paper provides a wide-ranging overview of the key issues raised by new information and communications technologies, where they have been addressed in the transportation and planning literature, and what gaps remain. We hope that this document can orient researchers who are mapping their own strategies for studying this crucially important topic in the future.

Download: Re-Programming Mobility Literature Review (PDF)

The abstract follows:

This paper addresses questions of how planners and other transportation professionals should be thinking about, planning for, and managing ICTs. The review draws on existing literatures from urban planning, social and applied science, and the technological press. Key considerations include the history of technologies in transportation planning, theories explaining effects of technologies on travel, how planners deal with technologies today, and ongoing gaps in knowledge, concepts, and practice. This exploration is wide-ranging, as the range of technologies now transforming mobility is itself broad. I argue that in many cases planners are not yet prepared for the onslaught of ICTs and their effects on mobility. Even where researchers have begun to frame potential impacts, clear linkages to planning and have yet to solidify. Historically, technological advances have been a boon for travel, making systems safer and more useful, but also facilitating increased driving with its ancillary impacts. Conceptually, ICTs don’t just reduce monetary and time costs, but also shift the patterns of daily life and fundamentally alter how people make choices about where to go and how to get there. These functional and psycho-social effects will continue to impact planners’ ability to meet fundamental transportation planning objectives such as increasing accessibility, equity, sustainability, and livability. The potential for significant shifts in behavior suggests that dealing with ICTs is not just a matter of updated regulation, but of reconsidering longstanding assumptions built into the planning process.


Peak Driving: Do Fertility Rates, Better Logistics, and GPS Navigation Play A Role?

Ever since transportation analysts started to notice that the leveling off of vehicle miles travelled (VMT) by U.S. drivers that started around 2005 had actually turned into a steady decline, any number of theories have been put forward to explain why Americans are driving less. The most hype has been around the decline in driving by teens and young adults – most of whom, the argument goes, have given up on their parents’ cul de sac suburbs to move to transit-served urban cores. I’ll certainly accept some of that is going on (I was one of those myself, if a bit ahead of the trend in the mid-1990s). But I don’t for a minute buy the popular explanation in the tech world – that “Millennials” (god I hate that term) are shunning car purchases and cruising for smart phones and social media. They aren’t getting licenses partly because states have made it harder and raised eligibility ages, and they aren’t buying cars because they have no jobs to go to, and student debt of epic proportions. If auto manufacturers want someone to blame for the drop in teen driving, they should blame universities, not Facebook.

Some more recent plausible explanations point out that aging Boomers drive less as they get older, and that 2005 was around the time that the U.S. economy entered a new era of higher and volatile gas prices. (The rise actually starts in 2002, but it keeps rising up until 2012 with a brief dip in 2009). Gasoline is now about three times as expensive as it was in the 1990s.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and have come up with three other hypotheses I’ve not seen discussed yet:

First, fertility – more young people are growing up in areas served by transit. Foreign-born women (who tend to be younger) have significantly more children than native-born women (see the Pew Research data). And immigrants are far more likely to live in urban and suburban areas served by transit, and to use it to get to work. (At least in California according to UCTC, and probably everywhere else). Therefore, young Americans today are more likely to grow up in a community where transit is a realistic mode choice. I’ve yet to do a thorough analysis of this, but my bet is that this would be a significant contribution to the VMT trendline.

Second, logistics. Despite the exploding volumes of e-commerce, a decade of steady improvements in route planning in the logistics sector is leading to significant reductions in wasted travel. UPS claims that technology solutions for improved routing have saved millions of miles since 2004. This is a drop in the bucket considering that Americans drove nearly 3 TRILLION miles each year over the last decade. But it brings me to my main point – which is that the machine intelligence that has allowed UPS to route its trucks more directly and efficiently has diffused throughout the entire population.

And so my third hypothesis, is that the mass adoption of personal GPS navigation – first through bundled manufacturer installed systems, then aftermarket personal navigation devices like Tom Tom, and now through smart phone apps like Google Maps, could be contributing significantly to the decline in VMT. Instead of taking habitual routes, more and more drivers are letting their GPS send them on a beeline that might include some unfamiliar twists and turns. Eventually people learn these better routes and start to incorporate them even into their own unassisted wayfinding.

After this occurred to me, I took a look at historic sales data for various segments of the GPS market, using data from Statista, a statistics reference service available through the university library. The numbers are pretty stunning – reporting doesn’t even begin until 2005, because the market was quite small before then. But between 2005 and 2010, there were nearly 80.5 million “GPS equipment units sold in the automobile segment” in the United States, according to Statista (I’m still trying to verify exactly what this covers – but I’m pretty sure it is manufacturer-installed in-dash units only). The number of devices sold annually increased ten-fold from 2005 to 2010.

Is it a coincidence that the era of falling VMT and the mass diffusion of personal navigation services coincide almost precisely? It’s too early to tell.

But if this is true, its good news for both the US and the world. According to Garmin, only 25 percent of the world’s 700 million cars currently have GPS installed. As this technology continues to spread throughout the market, we could see additional gains in travel efficiency.

(This essay is part of the Rudin Center’s ongoing research project Re-Programming Mobility made possible by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.)

Re-Programming Mobility: How the Tech Industry Is Driving Us Towards A Crisis in Transportation Planning

Today, the New Cities Foundation published our essay that lays out the thinking behind an ongoing research project at the Rudin Center called “Re-Programming Mobility”.  It is the third in a series of essays being published in the run-up to a major confab of transportation and technology geeks at Google on March 6.

New digital technologies are transforming why, where, when, and how people travel to their destinations. In recent years, these technologies have turned transportation from a physical infrastructure business into an information and informatics-based activity. Despite solving issues in some regards, this shift is introducing a number of new challenges for transportation planners, who need a comprehensive understanding on how they can accommodate the potential of these services while mitigating their unintended consequences.

This is the first of a series of essays, research articles and future metropolitan transportation and land use scenarios that will explore how transportation planning and management will adapt to the changing nature of mobility in the United States. This research is made possible by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

link to full essay