How Much More Parking Will We Need?

According to one Dallas developer, we may require less than we think thanks to ride sharing and the influx of self-driving vehicles.

by Brandon Formby, The Dallas Morning News / October 27, 2015

(TNS) -- Dallas developer Jack Matthews is confident that ride-hailing apps, car-sharing services and a burgeoning autonomous vehicle industry will decrease the amount of parking Americans use in coming decades.

But he said a lack of data and tangible trends are proving to be a challenge as his firm decides how much parking is needed at a planned high-speed train station near downtown.

“Over time will we need less parking? I suspect so,” Matthews said Monday.

The Matthews Southwest president’s comments came during the Rail~Volution conference in Dallas. The national convention focuses on how public transportation infrastructure can be used to maximize land use, connect residents to jobs and reduce congestion on highways. The conference continues through Wednesday and closes with a $25 event that is open to the public.

Matthews estimates a mixed-use development around the high-speed train station that connects Dallas to Houston will have about 5,000 to 12,000 parking spots. Much of it will be for people using the development and not the station.

But another factor that doesn’t have a lot of clarity is how long train passengers will want to park. Will they leave cars there for days, like airline passengers, or will the 90-minute train rides prompt them to only park during the day before returning the same night?

“It’s a fluid deal,” Matthews said.

His statements highlight how merging cultural shifts, many of which have been quickly brought about by technological advances, have made the future of transportation and urban planning murky. Throughout the conference Monday, many people said that more studies are needed on many matters to better understand where American mobility is — and should be — headed.

Yet the changes are coming at a time when cities and lenders are already out of touch and behind the times with their requirements for parking at transit-oriented and other developments, experts and officials said.

“I all too often have to build way too many parking spaces for affordable housing,” said Meea Kang, a California developer who helped that state overhaul its parking guidelines earlier this year.

Kang said that easing high parking requirements at residential developments around transit stops also helps public transportation because housing costs drop, becoming more affordable for people who can’t afford vehicles.

“It’s putting people who are more likely to take transit closest to transit,” she said.

But local governments aren’t the only ones whose aging approach to parking lead to too many spaces.

“Even if municipal parking requirements are lowered, many lenders have their own overparking requirements,” Carrollton Mayor Matthew Marchant said in a tweet Monday.

©2015 The Dallas Morning News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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