May 16, 2011 (Washington, DC) — Joshua Schank, President and CEO of the Eno Transportation Foundation, testified today before the New York State Senate’s Standing Committee on Transportation on how the state can utilize public-private partnerships to expedite and better fund infrastructure projects. Dr. Schank stressed the balance between welcoming public-private partnerships in transportation infrastructure where appropriate, but also ensuring that the partnership provides real public benefits.
In his testimony, Schank stated that while public-private partnerships are not a substitute for funding, they can provide substantial public benefits. “Under the right circumstances, and with a properly negotiated agreement, a public-private partnership can be a more efficient and effective method of providing infrastructure than the alternative. Without private investment, certain infrastructure projects essential to current and future economic activity would have to be postponed indefinitely.”
Schank stated that the success or failure of public-private partnership hinges on contracts. “A lack of adequate negotiation skills on behalf of public sector workers is the number one reason for the failure of public-private partnerships. Strong flexibility and short-term duration are essential ingredients of a public-private partnership in order to ensure greater benefits to the public.”
Schank also stressed the importance of competition and user charges. “Efficiency and innovation occur only when there is true competition. Without true competition, public and private sector authorities perform identically in transportation investment and operations.” One thing the private sector does well is user-charges. “(Extracting) more accurate user fees from a given facility… is more progressive than sales taxes because only users of the facilities are charged,” he said.
Click here to watch the hearing live.
The Eno Transportation Foundation was established in 1921 by traffic control pioneer William Phelps Eno to promote the safe and efficient mobility of American society. As a 501(c)(3) operating foundation, our mission today is “to continuously improve transportation and its public and private leadership in order to increase the system’s mobility, safety and sustainability.”Eno is responsible for helping to educate more than 3,000 transportation professionals over the last two decades. Eno’s work of framing emerging issues and cultivating creative leadership is supported by our endowment, fees and tuition that offset program costs, and voluntary donations by individuals and organizations that support our mission and work. For more information regarding Eno’s policy work and professional development programs, visit www.enotrans.com.