Planning transport futures. Backcasting vs forecasting.
Paper in proceedings, 2016

A quarter of the energy-related greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) originate from the transportation sector. Continuously increasing demand for transportation services worldwide is one of the main present-day urban challenges. One way to address this issue is to develop an integrated transportation system that can ensure confidence and comfort for the passengers. This will contribute not only to the customers’ experience, but also to operators and authorities through sustainable, cost effective and profitable services. Conversely, the lack of such a system or a poorly managed system prevents the economy and society from realizing its potential. In transition towards sustainability the planning process of complex systems such as transportation, often requires supportive tools and methods. The example of those is futures methodologies that assist decision making by providing information about possible futures. In the rapidly changing environment of the modern cities, forecasting tools do not always provide the expected outcomes since it is difficult to predict all the unexpected events. Therefore, there is a demand for alternative methods that not only grasp the constant changes, but also create additional value (for example, meeting the needs of multisectoral collaboration and creation of common vision). The present article investigates the usefulness of backcasting methodology in the planning process of the bus park and railway station in Kisumu, Kenya and Centralen in Gothenburg, Sweden compared to the standard forecasting methodologies. The paper’s contribution is a description of the Kenyan transportation system (which has not been studied in detail before), planning process and pertinent issues related to the stations both in Kisumu and Gothenburg. Based on the sharply contrasting contexts of global South and global North determined through field studies, interviews and feasibility study of futures methodologies, the paper concludes that backcasting is the most suitable methodology for both places rather than alternative approaches such as foresighting and SymbioCity, since it can be applied on the small scale, provides creative solutions and has a high level of integration of stakeholders.



urban planning

planning process


futures methodologies



Varvara Nikulina

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Environmental Systems Analysis

Henrikke Baumann

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Environmental Systems Analysis

David Simon

Mistra Urban Futures

University of Gothenburg

Frances Sprei

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Physical Resource Theory


Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance


Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Civil Engineering

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Transport Systems and Logistics

Environmental Management

Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified

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