AVs and Transportation Network Companies Research
The impacts of AVs and TNCs on the future of transportation remains unknown. The benefits of AVs could be important, and investments taking place in the industry have been staggering. Changes to transportation will vary based on geographic region, and will be impacted by consumer acceptance, cost of the technology, and infrastructure readiness. Walker estimates that the reduction of parking demand could be as low as 10 percent and as high as 40 percent by 2050. Because much remains unknown, planners should consider solutions which are adaptable, like right-sizing parking projects, adaptive reuse of parking structures, and demolition of older structures if demand declines.
Timing of AVs
AVs could lead to a reduction in household vehicle ownership, since a fully-AV could manage an entire family’s transportation needs. If TNCs equip fleets with AVs, this could lead to subscription-based service, which could also reduce personal vehicle ownership. As a whole, experts suggest that about 20 percent of new vehicle sales will be fully-AVs by 2030, but when the volume of conventional vehicles currently on the road is considered, this will be a small fraction of total vehicles on the road. Walker estimates that total parking demand could decline by as much as 40 percent by 2050, nationally.
AV Challenges and Benefits
The potential benefits of AVs include safety on the road, increased quality of life through less time driving, improving the urban landscape, and economic gains both across society and at a personal level. The success of AVs hinges on some challenges the industry now faces, including consumer acceptance of the technology and the cost, technological development within the AV industry, and city infrastructure to facilitate AVs. The current state of each challenge is also summarized to present where these challenges currently stand on the trajectory of AV success.
While most Americans have not yet used TNCs, some land uses are already experiencing parking demand reductions due to TNC rides. Walker researched industry reports, interviewed experts, and collected data to learn more about the impacts of TNCs on different land uses. Entertainment venues, hotels, restaurant corridors, and airports are experiencing declines in parking demand, and growth of TNC pick-up and drop-offs.
Some recent studies estimate that autonomous vehicles (AVs) will reduce parking and/or driving demand by 90 percent by 2050. These studies are based on some similar assumptions, including that the biggest impacts will take place in dense urban areas, and that most consumers will be willing to share rides. Taking the volume of conventional vehicles currently on the road, consumer acceptance of shared rides, and population growth into account, Walker estimates that parking demand will be reduced by a national maximum of approximately 40 percent by 2050.
Levels of AVs
The AV industry recognizes six levels of vehicle autonomy, where Level 0 includes no automation, and Level 5 is completely autonomous with no need for a human driver at any time. The industry is on the cusp of releasing Level 3 vehicles, and Level 4 and 5 vehicles are in the testing phase.
Airport Parking in the Age of Uber
Through research and data collected through engagements with airports, Walker has learned that transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft, are having an impact on parking revenues, and more generally, ground transportation revenues. The impact on parking varies across airports, which indicates that solutions need to be specific to each airport. One such solution is a TNC fee, which is becoming popular among airports, and airports may benefit from a financial analysis of such a fee.
While it is not yet completely clear how AVs will utilize IT connectivity, it is clear IT will facilitate their use in some way. AVs may use 5G networks to communicate with each other, and may also use infrastructure connectivity to assist with navigation. AVs may also require connectivity within parking structures. Given that the requirements are still unknown, it is important to plan for adaptability.