On several occasions we have written about transportation public-private partnerships in the Miami area. These have included posts on red-light cameras, passenger rail, UniversityCity at FIU, and other related topics.
Several months ago, we discussed the possibility of new public private partnerships for public transportation systems, which have in recent years been funded primarily by the FTA. As we discussed, because federal funds are more constrained than ever, P3s will likely be needed to fill the funding gaps. Indeed, the federal government has since emphasized the importance of P3s so that its funding dollars can go further than with traditional financing approaches.
Consistent with these trends, local governments are now looking towards a combination of FTA funding and a P3 model to provide a new light-rail public transportation system connecting the City of Miami and the City of Miami Beach, which is not currently connected to the mainland by the existing rail system. The benefits of a P3 in this context are not only reduced costs to the government, but just as importantly, a shortened design and construction period. In other words, a P3 model will help ensure that the rail system in this critical transportation corridor opens for operation in less time and for less public money.
Although the details of the specific model have yet to be ironed out, a combination of any number of proven structures can be utilized to share risks and rewards between the local governments and the private partner, from joint real estate developments at the stations to availability payments to traditional fares. This project has the potential to become the signature P3 in the Miami area and a model for future public transportation systems.