Public agencies seek private equity for transit projects

A pandemic year has further placed immense financial pressure on public agencies looking to build and renew infrastructure.

"We need to bring private equity into projects. Projects are too expensive and cannot depend on the public side only," said Rick Meade, senior executive officer in the Program Management Department at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro).

Speaking on a panel at the annual Canadian Council for PPPs (CCPPP) 2020 conference, he said the agency is looking at P3s to assist in project delivery. He also added that he and colleagues are looking to bring the private side into the fold by doing things that balance risks for all sides. 

He also said that public bodies are looking to mitigate a number of risks, including those associated with permitting. "We have to streamline permitting requirements, such as crossings that go through communities. It is our goal to work with the agencies to help turn the development requirements into something that is more manageable and predictable and would give the private sector more incentives."

Ian L. Horseman Sewell, CEO at First Class Partnerships, agreed, saying there is a need "to find new ways of bringing in private capital", pointing to the UK Treasury's plans to launch a Sovereign Green Bond in 2021.

"The new bond exchange launched in London in the UK to provide bond financing is a promising step in this direction."