How we'll travel 10 years from now

8 May 2018

This article first appeared on the Brisbane City Council City Smart website. 

How will you be getting about in 2028?

Dr Jake Whitehead, a Research Fellow at the University of Queensland’s School of Civil Engineering, says that if Australia introduces the right policies to support the uptake of new transport technologies, we can get a good picture of what daily travel will look like for households in a decade’s time.

We asked him to imagine future transport from the perspective of two types of residents.

1. A couple in the suburbs with two young kids

Sandra and John live with their two young children in the suburbs.

Sandra works as a nurse at a local hospital, whilst John works as a public servant in the CBD.  New transport options have meant that they were able to sell one of their vehicles, and now have one electric SUV.

During the week, Sandra uses the SUV to drop the kids at kindergarten, and is able to charge her electric vehicle for free at the local hospital where she works.

It is too expensive for John to drive to the CBD and it’s more convenient for Sandra to take the car to work, so John instead takes a shared self-driving taxi to the local rapid public transport hub. Usually he is alone, but occasionally he shares the trip with 1-2 other passengers. The price of this service is incorporated into his transport plan, which provides unlimited public transport and 10 shared vehicle trips for $50 per week. His commute has been cut from 60 minutes ten years ago, down to 35 minutes.

Sandra and John regularly use their electric SUV to take their kids on driving holidays during the weekends. This is made particularly convenient by the fact that their electric SUV is capable of self-driving on highways and has a driving range of 700 km between charges.

2. The inner-city couple

Tracy and Sarah live in an inner-city townhouse.

They don’t own a car as almost all of their transport needs are met using self-driving electric taxis and public transport. By giving up their two previous cars they were also able to convert their garage into a music studio.

During the week, Tracy and Sarah book a self-driving taxi which picks them up at home in the morning, and drops them at the high school where Sarah works. The high school is located next to a rapid, public transport hub, which takes Tracy to her job in the CBD in less than 5 minutes.

Overall, their peak-hour commute travel time has been cut in half compared to ten years ago. They are both subscribed to quarterly transport plans, each costing $90 per week. These provide unlimited city public transport, 14 taxi trips and 1-day private vehicle hire every month. This means that they now spend less than half of what they used to on transport.

On weekends, when they choose to go on longer-trips, Tracy and Sarah have the flexibility of hiring a different vehicle, fit for the purpose of each trip. It might be a plug-in hybrid electric SUV for beach camping at Fraser, or a fully-electric sports convertible for a weekend away in the hinterland. The price of either private vehicle hire is included in their transport subscription.

Hear Dr Jake Whitehead and other guest speakers at the Move for Less transport expo, part of Brisbane’s Green Heart Fair being held at Chermside on Sunday 3 June 2018. More at

About Jake

Jake Whitehead is a Research Fellow at The University of Queensland’s School of Civil Engineering who holds two PhDs in Transport Science and Transport Engineering.

For the past 8 years he has been analysing the impact of government policies on, and consumer preferences towards, novel transport technologies (shared, autonomous and electric vehicles). He has also been investigating how these transport innovations are set to affect transport funding, and how alternative pricing models could be used to support a sustainable, fair and equitable transport system in the future.

Jake plans to lead a new research project at UQ, later in 2018, to demonstrate how novel transport technologies could support the development of a zero emission energy system through the use of vehicle-to-grid capabilities and the smart storage of renewable energy.

As Director of Transmobility Consulting, he has also worked closely with governments and businesses to advise on sustainable transport policies. Most recently he co-ordinated the development of Australia’s most comprehensive electric vehicle strategy (Queensland).