- In a recent report, Governing offered a detailed analysis of what could be in store for city budgets if autonomous vehicles replace traditionally-driven cars.
- The report highlighted data on "revenues for parking collections and fines, traffic citations, traffic camera fines, gas taxes, vehicle registration, licensing and select other fees" for the 25 largest U.S. cities. Those revenues added up to nearly $5 billion in FY 2016, or about $129 per resident.
- The report points out even more car-derived revenue sources could be affected, like taxes and licenses from taxis, car rentals and parking garages.
So far, the buzz around autonomous vehicles has been about making sure they work efficiently and safely. But once safety is sorted out, cities should also start accounting for how city operations may change. While positive impacts can be expected, like a decline in the number of accident-related fatalities, there may also be consequences — like revenue loss. Governing also points out that some seemingly-positive impacts, like reduced traffic and parking enforcement, could mean fewer jobs.
Some cities will be hit harder than others. The cities with the highest per capita revenue from traffic sources include San Francisco ($512), Washington, D.C. ($502), and Chicago ($248). But bigger cities like these have diverse enough revenue streams to adjust without a total breakdown. Smaller cities that rely heavily on parking, such as beach communities that profit from beach parking fees and permits, could be hit hard without a clear path to a revenue replacement.
Electric autonomous vehicles will complicate the picture even more. Gasoline taxes, which funds billions in local infrastructure, will be gone. Some states like California are already passing legislation to place fees on electric cars to make up for the lost revenue. Oregon is currently the only state to look to a per-mile fee system as an alternative to gas taxes.