The regulatory function in public-private partnerships for the provision of transport infrastructure


Miguel Carmona

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

organisation - contracting, organisation - regulation, economics - pricing, economics - benefits, infrastructure - maintainance


Transport infrastructure regulation, Public–private partnership, Concession, Infrastructure charging, Bundling


A wide range of contractual arrangements are increasingly being used by the public sector to materialise the delegation of transport infrastructure provision tasks to the private sector, over long periods of time. This paper addresses the issue of transport infrastructure regulation in the specific context of public-private settings. Starting by the discussion on the concept of Public–Private Partnership (PPP) it is stressed that, despite the different meanings that can be found in the literature, it is possible to define a PPP by using a core group of characteristics, such as the bundling of services and the transference of a relevant part of the risks to the private sector on a long term basis. Regarding the action of the regulator, we look at three dimensions of efficiency that are expected to be pursued at the strategic level of regulatory action. However, it is acknowledged that the regulatory function is in practice rather complex since it requires balancing a multiplicity of other objectives or goals, which may vary according to specific economic conditions. In the domain of pricing, the review carried out suggests that since “first best” assumptions are not met in the “real world” it hardly seems possible that the short run marginal cost pricing “canon” could be directly used to shape pricing policies. Consequently, when considering the application of the standard neoclassical marginal cost pricing approach it is pertinent to ask whether the second best solutions can lead to efficient outcomes that might be accepted by the stakeholders. Bundling construction and maintenance tasks into a single long term contract, which is a typical characteristic of “standard” PPPs, could theoretically bring cost benefits since it allows for the possible internalization of any positive externalities that may be generated during the whole project life cycle. The economic rationale for the bundling of construction/maintenance with financing services is that it enhances the likelihood of submission of realistic bids at the procurement stage. In addition, the chances of the contractor sticking to the agreed contractual terms, after contract award, are potentially increased given the higher exposure to financial risk.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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