Future transport: Understanding what Australians want
Future transport: Understanding what Australians want

Future transport: understanding what Australians want

By 2035 Australia will look different. Very different.

Faced with a population nudging 32 million, increasing demand from trading partners and rapidly evolving technologies and consumer behaviour, moving people and goods around our vast country will undoubtedly remain one of our nation’s biggest infrastructure challenges.

Against this backdrop, creating a future ready roadmap that responds to today and tomorrow is complex. How do we make our cities and regional areas great places for people to live and work? How can we balance sustained economic productivity and quality of life when faced with the ever-changing challenges presented by evolving consumer demands thanks to new technologies? Is it even possible?

While those involved in the freight and logistics ecosystem all play their role, a crucial part of any future solution lies in knowing what people want when it comes to moving themselves and their goods around.

People don’t seek mobility for the sake of mobility, they seek it to fulfil a purpose.

To explore this we asked more than 1300 people (from the general public and industry) to imagine themselves in 2035 and tell us about where they had chosen to live, work, how they commute, what foods and goods they purchase and how they prefer things to be delivered.

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For each response, we evaluated how cost, convenience and environment influence consumer and commuter choices.

Overwhelmingly, the most important overall consideration when it came to future freight and transport decisions was convenience. Leading busy lives, the majority of respondents were drawn to anything that saved them time.

Here's a breakdown of the overall priorities

2035 Future transport survey results Future transport: 2035 overall priorities survey results

What do you prioritise?

In today’s fast-moving society, immediate gratification is a highly sought-after currency for many people who are time-poor yet earning high salaries. So, we want convenience, but at what cost?

How do we achieve the convenience people desire, without compromising the environment in which we want to live, the hip pocket, or people’s wellbeing and safety? How do we ensure that this is convenient for everyone, not just the few who can afford the luxury of convenience?

Woman with children


You lead a busy life, juggling multiple priorities from family, friends and your career. Any decision, gadget or transport that makes life easier gets a big tick of appreciation from you. Life may not always be this busy but you can’t see it slowing down anytime soon, so are drawn to anything that saves time.

Young woman with tomato plant


You believe we all have a responsibility to reduce the effects of climate change, and you try your best to make a difference through efforts such as recycling, eating seasonally and shopping sustainably. You consider which modes of transport are best for the environment before deciding how to travel.

Banker Business Man


Saving money and increasing your wealth is important to you at this stage of your life. You are willing to wait a bit longer and take more time to get somewhere if it means saving some dollars that you can put towards a well-earned holiday or your home.

The survey data revealed some uncomfortable trends which can’t continue – from a culture of convenience to a major disconnect between what the general public dream for their future and what industry respondents dream for theirs.

Cartoon of man and woman taking different forms of transport

In 2035 survey respondents:

  • 46% want to use an autonomous car to get to work
  • 40% would choose a parcel delivery to their door
  • 50% choose lunch based on their mood

There is a tendency for experts to jump to solutions all too quickly rather than spending enough time delving into end users’ true perspectives. By understanding these transport and freight choices, several clear must haves emerged for informing decision making of future freight solutions that could balance convenience with cost, environment, wellbeing and safety.

What do we mean when we talk about freight? When most people think of freight, visions of large trucks, containers and ports spring to mind however as we look to the future increasingly the concept of freight is encompassing the mobility of food, parcels, and people across short distances – otherwise known as the last mile and how packages reach consumers.

How we address the integration of drones and bike couriers is just as important as the larger forms of transport. Ultimately, to navigate a path through this mobility jungle we need an integrated mindset (systems approach) and designs that are people centric.

To manage future freight demand and move it around efficiently, safely, cost effectively and reliably we also need:

  • To reframe what we think is convenient, take new approaches and think more about the impact of what we do (our travel patterns) as individuals in the big picture – and be open to alternatives
  • To implement better planning for urban mobility as a key factor in relieving pressures currently faced and those predicted for the future
  • An integrated, reliable transport system, which considers technology such as automated rail, road and aerial vehicles, on-demand transport and how it can connect into existing supply chains. Aligning bus, train and tram timetables will create reliability and increase convenience – reducing barriers for people to use public transport and a decreasing reliance on the car
  • Jobs, homes and infrastructure networks to be coordinated to maximise accessibility and liveability
  • To develop adaptable responses based on tomorrow’s needs rather than designing based on what we know today
  • Flexibility in our freight and transport policies
  • To create better awareness among the general public about the impact their consumer behaviour has on congestion, pollution and the broader environment
  • To trial different approaches such as higher taxes on food, drink or transport that is not eco-friendly to drive sustainable consumer behaviour
  • To bridge the gap between what the general public sees as the future reality versus what industry believes will occur

At Aurecon, we are constantly thinking about how to adapt and achieve the balance between convenience, cost, environment, safety, wellbeing and equity. This report sets out a vision for the future of a transport ecosystem to move people and goods. By reflecting on the survey data, we will inform decisions for future freight solutions, and navigate towards more positive outcomes.

By working together to build a mobility future that is people driven – we have the opportunity to improve lives today, and for future generations.

Enjoy the read!

Ben Stapleton
Managing Director, Infrastructure

Leader message

Explore the future of transport

These considerations and factors are just a snapshot of the scenarios that will need to be worked through as we traverse the many different paths for improving transport and freight solutions between today and 2035, and beyond. Explore our report through the themes below.

Convenience is not going anywhere – as our society continues to increasingly rely on technology, digital data will make even more accessible options available to consumers, not less. Convenience doesn’t need to cost the earth but it will require seismic shifts in behaviour from consumers and business to move the needle if greener, more eco-friendly solutions are required.

One aspect that we can be sure of is that collaboration will be critical for success. Industry will need to work closely with governments, start-ups, and consumers to ensure that new and evolving offerings are not only practical but also realistic to implement from a cost perspective. In the words of a survey respondent:

Australia has many opportunities at its fingertips: increasing productivity, strengthening our labour force and domestic business market and creating greater community diversity. But to maximise these opportunities our cities and regional areas must remain great places to live and work.


Rowenna Walker, Aurecon

Rowenna Walker

Managing Director, New South Wales
& Australian Capital Territory
+61 2 9465 5344

Looking for more on the future of transport and cities?

If you enjoyed this report, you may enjoy these posts from Aurecon's Just Imagine blog.

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