Scenarios for the Transport System and Energy Supply

The aim of the project STEPs (Scenarios for the Transport System and Energy Supply and their Potential Effects) was to develop, compare and assess possible scenarios for the transport system and energy supply of the future taking into account the autonomy and security of energy supply, effects on the environment, the economy and technological development and the impacts of measures to internalise external costs and the interactions between transport and spatial development.

The project started with mapping the state of the art and description of relevant trends in the transport and energy supply systems. With these in mind, a set of scenarios was compiled, which differed by the rate of fuel price increase assumed and the range of supporting or compensating policy reponses from the fields of infrastructure and technology and demand management including pricing, taxation and regulation.

The scenarios were simulated with existing integrated models of spatial development for Europe and for five urban regions: Edinburgh, Dortmund, Helsinki, Brussels and South Tyrol in Italy until 2020 or 2030. The results showed that demand management policies are in the long term more effective than infrastructure investments or technological developments, but that this depends much on the policy package selected and the way fuel prices will develop. Both fuel price increases and policy measures tend to result in higher transport costs, accessibility constraints and reduced mobility. Economic development for parts of Europe could be slowed down because of this.

The simulations with the SASI model of regional development showed that growing fuel costs and related policy responses lead to a strong reduction in accessibility and economic growth in Europe. But at the same time the lower growth rates lead to an increase in cohesion among the European regions, i.e. a more balanced spatial structure: Because the economically stronger regions are affected more by the increases in transport costs, they lose more in absolute terms (though less in relative terms) than the poorer regions. The consequence is in all scenarios a reduction of spatial polarisation in Europe. However, at the same time this leads to a higher polarisation of the European urban system in most scenarios.

The simulations with the IRPUD model for the Dortmund urban region showed that high fuel prices lead to significant changes in travel behaviour: the long-term trend to more and longer trips by car is stopped or even reversed. More trips are again made on foot or cycling; the share of public transport trips more than doubles. High fuel prices also lead to changes in location behaviour: people move closer to their place of work and firms closer to their workers, suppliers and clients – because of their relative high density, European cities are able to cope with high fuel prices by internal re-organisation. However, these changes are not voluntary but responses to severe constraints and may imply a loss of quality of life: every car trip not made may mean a friend not visited, a meeting not attended or a football match not seen. The best effects of rising fuel prices are the impacts on the environment: every car trip not made and every km the remaining trips are shorter mean less greenhouse gases, less air pollution, less traffic noise and less traffic accidents. In addition, high fuel prices stimulate the efforts to develop more energy-efficient cars and alternative fuels and so contribute to the positive environmental balance. From the point of view of the Kyoto objectives, high fuel prices are the best conceivable future prospect.

STEPs was a co-operation of research institutions from ten countries including Buck Consultants International, the Netherlands (Projekt Leader), the Centre for Transport Research (TRANSyT) of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain, the Department of Management Science and Technology of the Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece, LT Consultants, Finland, the Institute for Prospective Technology Studies (IPTS) of the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC), Spain, the Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) of Leeds University, UK, the Institut für Verkehrsplanung und Verkehrstechnik of the Technische Universität Wien, Austria, the Transport Research Laboratory, UK, Senternovem, the Netherlands, the Spatial Applications Division (SADL) of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, Spiekermann und Wegener (S&W), Urban and Regional Research, Germany, Strafica Oy, Finland, STRATEC, Belgium, Transportes, Inovação e Sistemas, Portugal and Trasporti e Territorio Srl (TTR), Italy.

The Final Report of STEPs can be downloaded:

Fiorello, D., Huismans, G., López, Marques, C., Steenberghen, T., Wegener, M., Zografos, G. (2006): Transport Strategies under the Scarcity of Energy Supply. STEPs Final Report, edited by A. Monzon and A. Nuijten. The Hague: Buck Consultants International.

More information on the models used and the scenario results is available in

STEPs (2005): Modelling Suite for Scenario Simulations. STEPs Deliverable D4.1. Milan: Trasporti e Territorio SRL.

STEPs (2006): Scenario Impacts. STEPs Deliverable D4.2. Milan: Trasporti e Territorio SRL.

Wegener, M. (2006/2010): Meta Analysis of Scenario Results. Technical Note S&W STEPs 03. Dortmund: Spiekermann & Wegener Urban and Regional Research.