Bus

Private public transportation operators get another look

Posted on August 17, 2012 by Frank Di Giacomo, Publisher

Partly as a result of the deep fiscal crisis that local transit agencies have faced since the Great Recession, many are studying whether to involve private operators in transit more. The fact that new APTA CEO Michael Melaniphy has agreed to be the keynote speaker at BusCon is another indicator of the increasing interest. However, outsourcing service is not a panacea and should be looked at situation by situation. That’s why some recently proposed policy changes could create unnecessary burdens, or at best, are solutions in search of a problem.

Back to the future – not
It’s important to remember that no one is really talking about returning completely to the days when all of transit was operated by private companies. There was a reason why state and local governments, and eventually the federal government, became involved in public transportation: these operators could not sustain a profit over the long run. Government got involved because there was an interest beyond a financial calculation. That interest still exists, of course.

Instead, some governments are looking to involve private operators through contracting for service. These approaches vary from city to city, and so do the reasons. The most common use of contractors is for demand response or paratransit service, mostly to cope with high costs of these services. However, in some cities, the whole regular-route bus network has been contracted to private providers; others have a combination of contracted and directly operated service. For rail operations, commuter rail service is frequently contracted out, but Phoenix also contracts out its new light rail service as well. Denver is also looking at a public-private partnership that will design, build, operate and even partly finance several new commuter rail lines. The industry is closely watching that experience to see if it can be done elsewhere.

No one size fits all cases
The above should show everyone that each situation is different. Unfortunately, several in Congress wanted either to restrict the use of private solutions or mandate greater use of them. Neither should be adopted. Rather, Congress should make it easier to use private contractors, consortia or financing so that agencies can better develop the best strategies that work for them.

We also need to recognize that in some cases private companies can take on more risk, but in other cases they cannot. In addition, with added risk should also come greater potential reward, which usually means allowing more profit in these cases.

Private companies, themselves, will repeatedly say that none of these options mean public agencies get out entirely. In fact, they will say the opposite: governments will always be in charge. The real question is how involving private participation can help achieve government’s mission.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Chinese company unveils 'Transit Elevated Bus'

The bus is supported by two legs that run along rails laid along the roadside. The legs allow the buses frame to glide high above the gridlock at speeds of up to approximately 37 miles per hour.

Last Chance for Innovative Solutions Award submissions

Have you recently partnered with a solutions provider within the last year to implement a new innovation at your operation that has helped you save money, run more efficiently, streamline operations, improved customer satisfaction or increased ridership? Tell us what you did and how it has positively impacted your business.

NY MTA introduces the first of more than 2,000 state-of-the-art buses

After more than three decades of bearing more than a passing resemblance to refrigerators on wheels, the appearance of North America’s largest transit bus fleet is undergoing a stunning transformation

NY MTA rolls out first of 75 state-of-the-art New Flyer buses

In March, Gov. Cuomo announced the addition of 2,042 buses, equipped with Wi-Fi and USB charging ports, to the MTA fleet over the next five years, replacing 40% of the current fleet.

Dallas' DART takes top spot at APTA's International Bus Roadeo

The Grand Champion Award recognizes the system with the highest combined bus operator and maintenance team score.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close