Rethinking Transport: Highlights of the Transport Research Arena 2020

Rethinking transport as we continue forward into the 21st century is a necessity, with sustainability, digital solutions and inclusivity at the forefront of the agenda. The Transport Research Arena 2020 conference should have been held in April, but despite its cancellation due to the COVID-19 crisis, the planned article collection that addresses these issues has gone ahead, and is now available.

The transport sector is facing serious challenges due to climate change, urbanization, and lack of sustainable finance, as well as societal pressures such as income inequality and transport poverty.

While the technological disruption offers prospective solutions (most often partial ones), the technology surge poses additional challenges.

For example, can we accept automated transport? Can we make digital services usable and accessible? And can we opt for the clean energy choices that are already available?

On top of this, the entire system must be managed wisely, as the current transport system has become very complex with all its technological, social, organizational and economic dimensions; the management of such a complex system is a puzzle in itself, not to mention all the political dimensions involved.

There is a clear call for a rethinking of transport, which was the central theme of Transport Research Arena 2020, the most noteworthy transport research conference in Europe and originally planned to be held in Helsinki in April 27–30.

Unfortunately, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was cancelled based on the decisions of Finnish state authorities following the recommendations of the State Council.

Nevertheless, the submissions to the conference remained and the very best of them are included in a Special Issue of the journal European Transport Research Review, available here. This was compiled from the submissions to Transport Research Arena 2020.

Altogether, more than 200 submissions were received for the journal track out of which the best ones in terms of scope and quality were selected for review, and finally the very best were accepted for publishing. Submissions came from all parts of Europe, and indeed all over the world.

Transport Research Arena 2020 Rethinking transport – towards clean and inclusive mobility had 12 topical areas ranging from climate change to vehicle technology and from social aspects to system modelling.

The richness of topics covered by the conference reflects the variety of the aforementioned challenges.

Solving all of the issues within the relatively short time span of the next couple of decades, in a sustainable and integrated manner, will be neither cheap nor unproblematic. The selected best papers cover many of the TRA2020 topics, showing that researchers are trying to do their part in scaling the mountain of work ahead.

These works aim to aid in policymaking, complement other research, and support practitioners to come up with some of the sustainable and integrated solutions that are so desperately needed.

The selected papers cover the same extensive range of topics as the planned conference, including all modes of transport.

Transport Research Arena 2020 was organized and supported by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, Ministry of Transport and Communications Finland, Business Finland, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. and the European Commission.

The European Technology Platforms ACARE, ALICE, CEDR, ECTP, ERRAC, ERTRAC, ETRA and WATERBORNE participated in the conference organization.

Transport Research Arena is the foremost transport research conference in Europe that takes place every other year. In 2022, TRA will take place in Lisbon, Portugal — see you there, I hope!

Compliments to all authors whose papers were published in this Special Issue!

View the latest posts on the On Physical Sciences homepage