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Time to Stop Pushing Public-Private Partnerships

Posted in: Industry Trends & News

This week, another public-private partnership proved to be a failure.

The high-occupancy toll lanes located just outside Washington, D.C., on Interstate 495 lost $51 million during the first year of operation, according to the Australian tolling firm Transurban.  Transurban spent $18.6 million to administer the road after collecting $11.6 million in tolls.

D.C.’s HOV lanes were supposed to showcase public-private partnerships. State and federal authorities funneled hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds into the project. But, like other public-private partnership deals across the United States, it has failed.

The recurring flaw is the belief that motorists want to pay tolls.

Transurban bet on the idea that motorists would rather pay $10 for a 13-mile trip on the high-occupancy lanes than sit in traffic or use alternate routes.

Time and again this has been a losing proposition. Just look at California’s South Bay Expressway or the Indiana Skyway.

The San Diego South Bay Expressway went into bankruptcy after revenues were half the initial projection during its second year of operation. The Indiana Skyway, meanwhile, posted huge revenue losses – despite increasing tolls – under a 75-year lease agreement.

Overwhelming evidence illustrates that motorists aren’t willing to pay tolls.

It's time for government officials to stop punting their responsibilities by pushing public-private partnerships. It's time to develop real infrastructure funding solutions that benefit all drivers. 

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About the Author

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman develops and executes communications strategies to advance NATSO’s public relations and advocacy goals. Tiffany also develops and oversees partnerships related to the NATSO Foundation’s public outreach initiatives. Tiffany lives in the D.C. metro area with her husband and their two sons.