“We have significant parking demands today, but should we invest in a parking structure that may not be needed in a few years?” “Will we need all of the parking that we have today?” “How can we make sure driverless vehicles aren’t parking 20 miles outside of our city center?” Driverless vehicles will, indefinitely, have significant implications on a region’s existing and future parking requirements. I hear questions like these all the time, so I figured it was worth a dedicated blog post.
Changes to parking requirements will largely depend upon the level of vehicle and ride sharing that occurs. If people continue to own cars similar to how they do today, this means that the number of vehicles will, generally, be the same and, consequently, the parking demand, will remain as-is. On the other hand, if the level of vehicle and ride sharing increases (and private vehicle ownership decreases), parking requirements would also decrease.
For the parking requirements that still exist – it has the potential to be re-located since vehicles can park themselves after dropping a passenger off. Urban parking could be re-located to remote locations so the expensive downtown real estate can be re-purposed. Homeowners could re-purpose their driveway and garage and pay for remote parking instead. Remote parking will, of course, result in increased vehicle miles traveled, so government agencies will need to consider this trade-off, determine their desired outcomes, and establish pricing and policies that support them.
Other potential impacts:
- Parking space size requirements may shrink because AV parking will be more precise
- Buildings, transit stations, and other destinations will likely need more/better pick-up and drop-off locations due to increased ride sharing and/or vehicle pick-up/drop-offs
- Traffic in areas with parking constraints could improve due to a reduction in vehicles circulating looking for parking.
- Existing parking structures could be re-purposed due to reduced parking requirements.
- Parking fees/taxes could increase or decrease depending on how much parking is still needed and how it is priced/taxed.
Driverless vehicles present an opportunity to free up a lot of valuable land; however, it’s up to the government to ensure that happens (by putting policies and pricing in place to encourage vehicle and ride sharing!). It’s also up to the government to make sure the land gets re-purposed appropriately. Let’s start planning for that now!