Public–private contracting and incentives for public transport: Can anything be learned from the Sydney Metro experience?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

organisation - contracting, mode - bus, mode - subway/metro, mode - ferry, place - australasia


Public–private contracting and incentives in public transport, Performance driven contracts, Sydney Metro


The New South Wales (NSW) government created the Sydney Metro Authority to design, build and operate a completely separate underground Metro rail system to supplement the existing public transport network in Sydney. By the time the NSW government abruptly cancelled the entire Metro project in early 2010, the authority had conceived and designed a contract that was proceeding to procurement. This paper examines the nature of the proposed Sydney Metro contract in relation to its performance framework and compares this to the frameworks in current contracts for bus, rail and ferry public transport in Sydney. Against this background, the paper examines the extent to which the Sydney Metro approach has had an impact on subsequent public transport contracts in the context of the literature on public private contracting and incentives for public transport procurement. The paper concludes that little has been implemented, although the other mode contracts now enable more performance measurement and incentivisation. In particular, the decision to award contracts to existing (and mostly public sector) operators appears to have acted as a brake on developing these performance elements.


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


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