Mobility has always been a fundamental component of the economic and social life of societies. Contemporary economic processes have been accompanied by a significant increase in mobility and higher levels of accessibility. A historical perspective on the evolution of transport systems underlines the impacts of technological innovations and how transportation improvements were interdependent with economic, social, and spatial changes. Thus, the current transport systems are the outcome of a long historical evolution marked by periods of rapid changes where new transport technologies were adopted.
Following the industrial revolution in the 19th century, transportation systems were mechanized with the development of steam engine technology, which permitted the setting of networks servicing regions. This process was further expanded in the 20th century with global air transport, container shipping, and telecommunication networks. However, this requires the capacity to manage, support, and expand the mobility of passengers and freight as well as their underlying information flows. Societies have become increasingly dependent on their transport systems to support a wide variety of activities, ranging from commuting, tourism, supplying energy needs, and distributing parts and final goods. Developing transport systems has been a continuous challenge to satisfy mobility needs, support economic development, and participate in the global economy.