Industry leaders and members of the academic transportation planning and policy community came together at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government on April 23 for a day-long conversation about a subject no less important than the future of mobility in the 21st Century.
Speakers and panelists addressed key issues facing those who build and maintain the nation’s highways, public transit systems, and other emerging modes of transportation during the 5th Annual P3 Forum, hosted by the Schar School’s Center for Transportation Public-Private Partnership Policy (P3).
A list of the 16 speakers and panelists is here. Highlights of the discussions include:
- Update on Regional Highway Programs:
Case studies explored the vision for improved mobility and the work being done to improve connectivity and safety in the DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) region, stressing how P3 approaches produce public benefits. Michael Dicenza, chief financial officer of Transurban North America, noted how Virginia’s I-495 and I-95 Express Lanes provide vast economic benefits and travel savings, including supporting $6.3 billion in economic activity—and an 80-minute average travel time savings across the Express Lane network. Lisa B. Choplin of the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration discussed Maryland’s developing P3 Program and its goals that include reducing traffic congestion along I-495 and I-270, accelerating new project delivery, and pursuing innovative financing approaches, all at no net cost to the state.
- New Models for P3 Transit Delivery:
Maryland’s beleaguered Purple Line light rail line, the nation’s second P3 transit project, is finally on track and anticipates nearly 60,000 riders a day following its 2022 completion, said Charles Latucca, Executive Director of Transit Development and Delivery for the Maryland Transit Administration. Mike Schneider of InfraStrategies discussed the third P3 transit project, Honolulu’s rail transit system, and its application of innovative P3 models.
- National Market and Policy Outlook:
Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation spoke about the future for Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain P3 highway projects. He addressed what the industry should expect over the next few years: Adding express toll lanes to congested freeways; replacing major bridges; and rebuilding and modernizing aging long-distance interstate highways. He remained cautious about the future given the current divisive congressional climate.
- Smart Mobility and the Potential for P3s:
The panel explored how jurisdictions are incorporating innovative mobility services into their transportation and land use planning. Kathryn Roos, P3 Manager for District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT), Andrei Greenawalt of Via, Joe McAndrew of the Greater Washington Partnership, and Jim Ray of Ray Strategies discussed: The application of P3s for smart mobility; private-sector strategies for partnering with the public sector; the importance of data sharing, management and privacy; and the most impactful issues facing smart mobility in cities in the coming years.
The panel suggested that data collection and sharing agreements would present the most pressing issues for all partners, public and private, along with the integration of interoperable trip payment platforms to improve both regional and national access to public transit.
Jonathan Gifford, director of the Center for Transportation Public-Private Partnership and a faculty member in the Master’s in Transportation Policy, Operations, and Logistics program, closed the forum by reiterating the importance of continued discussion and noted how all the panelists and speakers provided great insights into the P3 landscape. Audience members as well as participants were exposed to new and interesting ideas for further research and collaboration across the public and private sectors.
Lauren N. McCarthy is a candidate in the PhD in Public Policy program at the Schar School and is Program Manager for the Schar School’s Center for Transportation Public-Private Partnership.