APTA | Passenger Transport
October 20, 2008

In This Issue

 

The 2008 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in San Diego was a huge success!

 

Read all about it.
 


PPPs: Funding Approaches in Difficult Fiscal Times

With a national fiscal crisis ongoing, the public transportation industry is examining how to advance new financing, project delivery, and contracting models. One such effort was discussed at an Oct. 7 workshop titled “Public-Private Partnerships: Three Steps Forward.”

Moderated by Michael I. Schneider, managing partner, InfraConsult, LLC, the panelists presented their experiences with public-private partnerships.

Robert Tucillo, Federal Transit Administration associate administrator for budget and policy, talked about how FTA is in the middle of a set of workshops on public-private partnerships that he termed “very successful.” He said the next step, working with APTA and others, is to understand international public-private partnership models and how they might be implemented in the U.S.

Sharon Greene, principal, Sharon Greene and Associates, said the dire circumstances of today’s economic crisis are “affecting project revenues that agencies were counting on.” Agencies and the private sector are having problems with access to credit—challenges, she said, that must be considered—but such challenges do not make success impossible. However, “the tools with which we work might have to be more flexible,” she said.

“Without public resources dedicated to public/private transportation, there can’t be a public-private partnership,” she said. She suggested trying to determine if these types of partnerships “are the best for your needs, and, if you determine that, how can you create an environment where all the multiple interest are assured?”

“What have we learned?” Greene asked. “Without public resources dedicated to public/private transportation, there can’t be a public-private partnership.” She suggested trying to determine if these partnerships “are the best for your needs and, if you determine that, how can you create an environment where all the multiple interest are assured?”

Cal Marsella, executive director and general manager of Denver’s Regional Transportation District, said his geographical area does not experience the “city vs. suburb” set of problems common to so many other transit properties. Because of that circumstance, he said, “We have been using public-private partnerships for a long time. The savings are very substantial and very immediate. You’ve got to be sure that it works well; they are going to have to be convinced that you’re committed and you’ll follow through on your end of the bargain.”

Another of the panelists, Stephanie Ailer, principal project manager from the United Arab Emirates’ Masdar Initiative, presented what she termed the “visionary” aspects of the planned transportation system: Encouragement of state and local investment as well as workforce development; continued emphasis on planning, increased investment in research and development, and strengthening transit’s role in environment/global warming—all going on simultaneously.

“From both sides of the public-private partnerships,” she said, “the benefits are improved quality and quantity, greater value of money, and transfer of risk from public to private. However, it also allows the public authority to maintain strategic control of the overall project and overall service.”

 

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