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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Transportation came to a virtual standstill in the past few months, but how it will look in three-to-five years is difficult to predict, even for the mobility experts at Deloitte Consulting.

The big picture: A lot will depend on how long the pandemic lasts, and the degree to which governments — and even private industry — collaborate to manage the economic fallout, says Deloitte's Scott Corwin, who leads the firm's future of mobility practice.

Here are four possible outcomes, from a group of "renowned scenario thinkers" assembled by Deloitte and Salesforce. The details are worth reading, but here's a quick summary:

1. The public health and economic crises are acute but end fairly quickly.

  • After a brief pause, most transportation returns to normal, but with an increased reliance on e-commerce and home delivery and a greater emphasis on sanitation and safety.

2. Mobility companies step in to fill the transportation void left by the struggling public sector.

  • Privately owned, on-demand mobility supplants public transit in some neighborhoods, potentially leaving others without access to transportation.

3. China, Singapore and Japan become the leaders in mobility innovation, including battery technology.

  • Cities adopt China's hands-on government policies to manage the rollout of new technologies, and consumers share their data with the government in exchange for better service.

4. Economic woes drag on and globalization fades, while cities and states regulate the movement of people and goods more closely.

  • Mobility services turn into quasi-public transit.

Go deeper

Ray LaHood predicts bipartisan push to aid public transit

Axios' Ina Fried (l) and former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he expects a bipartisan push in Congress to shore up public transportation during the coronavirus pandemic, as it did for the airlines earlier this year and is under pressure to do again.

The state of play: During an Axios virtual event, LaHood underscored that Americans are using cars, rather than public transit, during COVID-19 pandemic. Public transportation as a result has subsequently seen a massive drop in ridership and revenue along with it.

Chicago official: COVID-19 allows for transit innovation

Axios' Ina Fried (l) and Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi. Photo: Axios

The lull in transit use during COVID-19 has given officials room to experiment with public transportation for all communities, Chicago's transportation commissioner, Gia Biagi, said at an Axios event on Friday.

The big picture: Americans have shied away from public transportation during the coronavirus pandemic. But Biagi argues that declines in ridership provide a window to innovation that wouldn't otherwise be available.

Colin Powell dies from COVID complications at 84

Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts

Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, died of complications from COVID-19, his family announced Monday. He was 84.

Driving the news: The Powell family said in a statement that he was fully vaccinated. "We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment."