Urban transportation public – private partnerships: drivers of uneven development?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

economics - capital costs, economics - appraisal/evaluation, place - north america


public-private partnerships (PPPs), transportation infrastructure, urban governance


Around the world, public – private partnerships (PPPs) have been widely promoted as a model to expand the provision of critical urban transportation infrastructure. This paper examines the extent to which PPPs have actually been used to deliver urban transportation infrastructure, and whether this model of project delivery has redressed historically uneven patterns of global infrastructure investment. Through an analysis of over 950 transportation PPPs worldwide over the past quarter century, it is shown that only one third were projects built in urban areas. Of these urban projects, PPPs have been concentrated in the largest and wealthiest cities in a small number of countries, largely supported road projects rather than public transit, and been an unstable source of funding during periods of economic volatility. These uneven patterns of project development are explained by three interrelated factors: overlapping jurisdictions in urban governance, project risk profiles, and market interest. The paper concludes by reflecting on the theoretical and policy implications of these findings.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Environment and Planning, copyright remains with them.