Traffic congestion is likely to get worse in the next few years for six main reasons, according to a report by the National Parking Association and PwC:
- Macroeconomic conditions. Vehicle miles traveled, which are directly correlated to economic growth, are forecast to grow by 14 percent from 2017 to 2030 as commercial activity expands.
- Urbanization. The U.S. population is growing and shifting from rural to urban areas. The portion of people living in urban areas will grow from 81 percent in 2010 to 85 percent in 2030.
- Transportation network company (TNC) growth. Ride-hailing is boosting demand for transportation while shifting travel from public transit. The shift puts more cars on the street and contributes to congestion at the curb.
- E-commerce growth. Deliveries are increasing, and they’re not reducing private-vehicle use for trips to shopping malls and brick-and-mortar stores as much as was once expected. E-commerce increased from 0.3 percent of retail spending in 1998 to 8.7 percent in 2014.
- Infrastructure underinvestment. U.S. public infrastructure was awarded a grade of D+ by the American Society of Civil Engineers and needs more investment to keep pace with that of other developed nations. The federal gasoline tax, which funds much of transportation infrastructure expenditure, hasn’t been raised since 1993.
- Policy and program development. Current policies and programs have had mixed success in reducing congestion, with many leading to unintended consequences that make congestion.