Researchers forecast that within 10 years, the combination of ride-sharing services and fleets of autonomous taxis will drive down car commuting — and the need to park. This is just one change that rapid urbanization, one of the Megatrends HP Labs has pinpointed, is ushering in to reshape our communities and economies. As more people flock to urban areas and commute to work through mass transits and ride sharing, the need for parking garages will dwindle. A McKinsey study predicts that by 2030, shared vehicles, with and without drivers, will account for 30 percent of the miles traveled on American roads.
But if our world comes to rely less on individual cars that need to be parked and re-parked throughout the day, what will happen to all those garages?
Los Angeles plans ahead
Such a dramatic mobility shift would shake up vast sectors of real estate. The United States has approximately 500 million parking spots — about two for each car. (Some estimates are much higher.) Together, this acreage occupies more space than Rhode Island and Delaware combined and fills vast tracts of prime urban real estate. Parking spaces in Los Angeles, for example, occupy more acreage than the entire city of Columbus, Ohio. Much of that area, analysts predict, could eventually be converted for housing, retail or parks.
Parking’s uncertain future poses a conundrum for urban planners and real estate developers all over the world, because today, most garages are badly needed for cars, yet different tenants might need to be accommodated tomorrow.