2014 Research Conference - Opening Session : The End of Car Culture? Socio-Demographic Trends and Travel Demand


Keynote Speaker(s)

John Njord


  • Keith Lawton, Keith Lawton Consulting, Inc.
  • Peter Frosch, Greater MSP
  • David Levinson, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota
  • Arlene McCarthy, Metropolitan Council

In the next 30 to 40 years, the transportation industry will face many challenges caused by new and emerging trends. These trends—in areas ranging from technology to climate change to the economy—will dramatically reshape transportation priorities and needs. To help practitioners face these changes and effectively shape the future, a National Cooperative Highway Research Program study (20-83) is investigating these emerging trends and their implications for the transportation system.

One of these trends—changing socio-demographic factors—is expected to considerably affect travel demand. Although America has long been one of the world’s prime car cultures, that status might be shifting because of new population and demographic trends. The graying and browning of America, slow household growth, and a hyperlinked younger generation are all playing a role in the need for vehicles.

At the opening plenary session of the CTS Research Conference, John Njord, former CEO of the Utah Department of Transportation and now with Tom Warne and Associates, will discuss these key socio-demographic trends, their potential impacts on future travel demand, and their implications for state DOTs and MPOs. He will also provide an overview of a customizable tool that can help planners and policymakers explore the interaction of demographic trends and travel demand in their regions.

Following Njord’s presentation, a panel of experts will share their perspectives on these socio-demographic trends and their implications for transportation professionals.

About the Speaker

John NjordJohn Njord John Njord served as the CEO of the Utah Department of Transportation (DOT) for 12 years, where he led a team responsible for the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of Utah’s transportation system. At the time of his retirement, he was the longest-serving state DOT CEO in the country. Njord is currently with with Tom Warne and Associates.

During his time at the Utah DOT, Njord led Utah through a transformative period, successfully completing some of the most significant transportation improvements in state history. His 25 years of engineering leadership include several years as Director of Transportation Planning for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. He has championed department efficiency improvements, innovative project delivery methods, innovative designs, accelerated construction techniques, accelerated bridge construction techniques, and a focus on customer service. 

His alma mater, the University of Utah, honored him with the distinguished alumni award in 2012.  Mr. Njord has served on the Civil Engineering Industrial Advisory Board and currently serves on the College of Engineering’s National Advisory Council.  He is a registered professional engineer.