The future of the transportation industry will continue to be one of adjustments driven by global and domestic changes in competition and in market conditions.
As this report has shown, Canada's transportation sector has largely recovered from the effects of the 2008–2009 recession. Yet the world economy remains in a fragile state, and risks remain—associated with the European sovereign debt crisis and a slow, prolonged recovery in the U.S. Perhaps the only certainty with respect to the global economy is that uncertainty is here to stay.
Within this context, however, Canada's transportation sector continues to be dynamic and innovative across all modes. Both passenger and freight transportation have grown in volume, and initiatives are in place to improve the environmental sustainability, safety and security of transportation. Accessibility remains an important consideration, particularly given the aging of the population.
Adaptability is essential in transportation: the ability to respond to social and economic changes. Diversified networks of trade are driving ever-greater demand for transportation, and the economics of transportation require demand be met with in ways that keep costs down and achieve the highest levels of efficiency and reliability. Existing and future natural resource developments as well as sprawling global industrial supply chains will require more and more support from Canada's transportation system to sustain economic growth.
One of the chief challenges in coming years will be to decouple economic growth from energy use and greenhouse gas emissions—not only reducing the amount of energy spent to move one passenger or tonne over one kilometre but also to bring down the total amount of energy used despite growing demand. Across all modes, operators have to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels and leverage new fleets of vehicles that integrate new technologies, advanced materials and emerging fuel sources.
For a trading nation like Canada, the Gateways and Trade Corridors strategy has led to improvements in the country's competitiveness in the world market. Another major challenge in the years ahead is likely to be meeting the ongoing needs for infrastructure maintenance and improvement while accounting for the realities of fiscal constraint.
The Canadian transportation system is vital to the nation's economy and Canadians' quality of life. The challenges ahead will require the sector to simultaneously address issues tied to financing, aging infrastructure, institutional change, energy consumption, the environment, safety and security.
The future of the transportation industry will continue to be one of adjustments driven by global and domestic changes in competition and in market conditions. Alternative and innovative transportation service and infrastructure delivery models will showcase technological breakthroughs supporting transportation's efficiency, reliability, sustainability, safety, security, and integration across modes and boundaries. Taking advantage of new technologies and ongoing adjustments to programs, policies and regulatory frameworks will permit to address new pressures on Canada's transportation system.
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