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Public-Private Partnerships for Metro Transportation Projects

  • Overview
  • Benefits
  • Project Evaluation Process
  • Current Projects

Public-Private Partnerships

A Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is a mutually beneficial collaboration between a public agency and a private sector entity. Through this contractual arrangement, the skills and assets of each sector are shared in delivering a service or facility for the use of the general public. In addition to the sharing of resources, each party shares in the risks and rewards potential in the delivery of the service and/or facility. 

Projects with the greatest likelihood of success are those high priority projects that are clearly defined and have a demonstrated public sector commitment. Projects delivered through a PPP must allocate the risks fairly between the parties, with each sector assuming the risks that they are best able to manage.

The public agency usually assumes the project definition risk by undertaking the environmental clearance effort, assessing financial feasibility and garnering stakeholder and political commitment. The private sector can best assume the financial risk, such as project financing, construction and perhaps facility management. 

How PPPs Can Work for Us

We are looking at PPPs as a means to accelerate delivery of our much-needed transportation projects. If we can use up-front private investment to finance some of the projects, we will likely see construction cost savings due to today's favorable bidding environment, efficiencies in alternative delivery and/or management strategies, congestion mitigation, earlier achievement of CO2 emissions reductions and earlier completion of planned rail-bus-highway transportation network.

A private investor will be entitled to a reasonable return on the financing investment made in the public project. Therefore, to determine whether delivering the project through a PPP is the most financially responsible method for the public agency to pursue, we must undertake a thorough analysis and comparison of life-of-project costs to be incurred both by delivering, operating and maintaining a project as a strictly public project, and by delivering it with private financial participation.

How We Decide

These decisions can be made only after extensive analysis to fully understand project details. The processes we've initiated are outlined on the Project Evaluation Process chart.


Benefits of Public-Private Partnerships

1. New Sources of Capital

Private equity, pension funds and other sources of private financing must still be repaid, but shifting responsibility for arranging the financing to a private partner can help deliver needed infrastructure in instances where the government agency is facing shortages in infrastructure funding.

2. Faster Completion of Projects

Conventional procurements usually require the public sector to provide significant upfront capital for project construction. Securing private financing allows the public sector to spread the public’s cost of infrastructure investment over the lifetime of the asset, much as homeowners do when they take out home mortgages. Typically, the private contractor also has a strong incentive to complete the project as quickly as possible to begin collecting the stream of revenues needed to recapture its capital costs.

  • In Canada, Terminal 3 at the Toronto Pearson Airport was completed 18 months ahead of schedule under a PPP contract.
  • The UK’s National Audit Office reported in 2003 that 73% of non-PPP construction projects were over budget and 70% were delivered late.
  • Only 22% of the projects built using the Public-Private Partnership model came in over budget and 24% were late.

3. Shifting Construction and Maintenance Risks from Taxpayers to Private Partners

The ability to shift the risks a contractor can best manage to the private sector is an important benefit of the public-private partnership concept. The private entity is allowed to earn a financial return commensurate with the risks it assumes on the project. Among the risks that can best be assumed by the private partner are:

  • Design risk
  • Risks associated with meeting contracted quality standards
  • Construction cost overrun risk
  • Risks associated with meeting contracted completion deadlines
  • Risks associated with post-completion operations

Some Partnership agreements require the private sector to maintain the assets over the full term of the concession. California currently carries approximately $12.5 billion in deferred transportation maintenance at the state level and $10.5 billion locally. This deferred maintenance imposes huge costs in the long run—early intervention costs about 20% less than maintenance postponed to the latter quarter of a facility's life. Continual maintenance deferral can result in more safety problems, a shorter infrastructure lifespan and reduced quality of services.

4. Lower Costs - Construction Savings

Experience from several countries has demonstrated that public-private ventures cost comparatively less during the construction phase thanks to innovations in design and construction methodologies.

  • A 2000 report commissioned by the UK Treasury found that among a sample of 29 public-private investment programs, average savings were about 17%.
  • In the US, the costs of completing construction for segments of the Denver E-470 toll road that used a Public-Private Partnership approach came in $189 million below the original cost estimate of $597 million.

5. Reduced Life-Cycle Costs

In traditional contracting, the private sector’s role is typically limited to immediate construction. This can create a perverse incentive to economize on elements of construction today even though maintenance costs might be higher in the long run. Shifting long-term operation and maintenance responsibilities to a private entity creates a stronger incentive to ensure long-term construction quality because the firm will be responsible for maintenance costs down the road.

  • A UK study of benefits flowing from operating Public-Private Partnership projects found that, on average, government realizes a saving of 17% over the whole life cost of services by using the public-private finance approach.

6. Superior Customer Service

Private infrastructure providers, often relying on user fees from customers for revenue, have a strong incentive to focus on superior customer service. And, since the asset is not managed by the public sector, government agencies are better able to concentrate on ensuring the provider maintains customer service levels. In the case of accommodation Public-Private Partnership model agreements, such as schools or defense facilities, customer satisfaction metrics can be built into the contract to ensure a strong customer orientation.

  • In the UK, more than 75% of end users reported their Public-Private Partnership program projects were performing as expected or better than expected; 25% said that the facilities were “far surpassing” expectations.

The chart below outlines the process for evalauting and considering a project for Public-Private Partnership. Click on image to view information in Acrobat format (87KB, PDF).

Project Evaluation Process Chart (PDF)

Analysis of Initial Projects

Metro staff and our consultants, HDR/InfraConsult LLC and their team, have completed strategic assessments of six initial PPP candidate projects (Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, Purple Line Extension, Regional Connector Transit Corridor, SR-710 North Gap Closure, High Desert Corridor and I‑710 Corridor), and business plans for the three highway projects, outlining potential PPP options for each of the three projects. The projects as defined in our PPP analysis are currently being analyzed as alternatives in our on-going environmental clearance work, and would only be considered for implementation if ultimately selected by Metro’s Board as the locally preferred alternatives.

Utilizing definitive value for money analyses, cost analyses, evaluation of risk assessment, and other project evaluation exercises, the mission of the PPP Program is to determine ultimately which project delivery method, design/build or PPP, provides the best value for Metro and the citizens of Los Angeles County.

Through the strategic assessments, we’ve determined that a full design, build, finance, operate and maintain delivery of the three transit projects would not be an optimum approach, as these are extensions of existing systems, presenting long-term operations and maintenance issues. However, we are proceeding with these as design/build delivery projects. 

Evaluation of Highway Projects

The three highway projects would provide financial and project delivery benefits when undertaken as PPPs, particularly when evaluated on a whole-life costing basis, which considers the cost of designing, building, and maintaining a project over a 35-50 year contract period. Each project offers a unique set of opportunities for potential acceleration and/or cost savings, although the benefits differ substantially among the projects. All of the projects have aspects that could interest major contractors and equity and debt sponsors. At this time, we don’t anticipate a procurement solicitation commencing until the environmental work is completed.

More information about the SR-710 North Gap Closure, the I-710 Corridor and the High Desert Corridor can be found on Current Projects tab.

ARTI & Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor

We are actively considering two other potential PPP projects and progressing toward procurement of both. One is a package of six relatively small projects labeled the Accelerated Regional Transportation Improvements (ARTI) project and the second is the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project


Current Public-Private Partnership Projects

Multi-Modal Projects

  • High Desert Multipurpose Corridor: New 63 mile tollway/highway through Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties between SR-14 and I-15 (Palmdale and Victorville, respectively) with potential for high speed passenger rail.
  • Sepulveda Pass Corridor: Possible private passenger rail and tolled road in tunnel(s) between the San Fernando Valley and Westside to LAX.

Highway Projects

  • Accelerated Regional Transportation Improvements (ARTI): Six separate elements completing longstanding gaps in the regional network of HOV/HOT lanes, freeway general purpose lanes and soundwalls, all of which are part of the State Highway System under the ownership of Caltrans.
  • I-710 Corridor: Improvement of 18 miles of the Long Beach Freeway from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to the north, and includes potential provision for exclusive freight and goods movement facilities.
  • SR-710 North Gap Closure: Construction of an extension to the existing Long Beach Freeway to I-210, and incorporates a proposed tunnel for a significant portion of its alignment.


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