The history of the future: analysis of traffic and transport scenarios (English summary)

Developing future scenarios continues to improve, owing to the following factors: improved insights into future developments; greater availability of scientific knowledge about traffic and transport; improved research models; and enhanced computing power, which makes it easier to conduct complex calculations. However, we must also state that forecasting is not an exact science. Ultimately, scenarios might not be wholly exact, nor must they be.

This report is available in Dutch

The direction and order of magnitude of developments must be well estimated, and these developments, as revealed in theĀ  various scenarios or with large bandwidths, must be reproduced and presented in relation to the given scenario assumptions. Policymakers are then able to take responsible and informed policy decisions, in which they can also take into account the inevitable future uncertainties. It is therefore crucial that scenario-makers clearly express what they have proposed in their forcasts regarding governmental policy.
In this report, forty-two scenarios for future traffic and transport developments in the Netherlands were analysed covering the period 1970 to 2000. At issue were the broad, long-term forcasts that assume no major policy changes. The traffic and transport scenarios were reasonably effective in indicating problems, especially in those scenarios dating from the 1980s and 1990s. Some of these forcasts were indeed flawed, but generally they accurately estimated the developments.