A city-level transport vision for 2050: Reimagined since COVID-19

Katherine Pawluk De-Toledo, Steve O'Hern, Sjaan Koppel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Transformative changes are needed in the transport sector to limit global warming. Radical transport disruptions experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as greater Working from Home (WFH) and active travel, present a unique opportunity to reimagine more sustainable transport systems. The aim of the current study was to develop a 2050 transport vision and identify short term priorities for Melbourne (Australia) based on in-depth stakeholder interviews. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first backcasting study since COVID-19. As the city with the ‘longest lockdown’, Melbourne has valuable lessons for the rest of the world. Overall, participants reported that they were uncertain about the future of the central business district. Participants envisaged that the transport system would be carbon-neutral or carbon-positive. However, private motor vehicles (including electric and automated) were not considered the solution for handling the scale of trips anticipated with the projected population size. Instead, participants perceived that in Melbourne by 2050, there will be less work-related travel due to greater job flexibility and WFH. More localised neighbourhood living (20-minute cities), with most short trips undertaken by active travel, and longer trips by public transport. Furthermore, it was projected that regional centres will grow and the transport system will be for the whole state of Victoria and not just Melbourne. Finally, the study identified short term (2021–2030) travel behaviour priorities and eight immediate actions, including: urban design focusing on inspiring active travel; reallocating road space to prioritise active and public transport modes; planning for micromobility urban freight; improving public transport services; expanding public transport networks; installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure; supporting WFH to encourage trip avoidance; and encouraging political consensus when building major transport projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-153
Number of pages10
JournalTransport Policy
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Backcasting
  • COVID-19
  • Policy window
  • Sustainable transport
  • Transport policy
  • Transport visioning

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation


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