The new prevalence of public-private partnerships in the production of Light Rail Transit Systems in Canada

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - tram/light rail, organisation - governance, policy


LRT, light rail, policy transfer, policy instrument, public transit policy, 3P, P3, PPP, public-private partnership, governance


To understand why all new light rail transit (LRT) projects under development in Canada are carried out in public-private partnership (P3) rather than through the traditional mode (public administration) that prevailed in the past, this research explores three light rail projects currently underway in Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto. We study the arguments surrounding each decision leading to the choice of the P3 governance model. We show that in all cases, it is possible to observe the mechanisms of policy transfer, whether voluntary or coercive. Moreover, the argument used by local actors to justify the choice of P3, although similar in several respects, still forms a unique combination of justifications for each case, which leads us to believe that P3s are a versatile policy instrument. These findings demonstrate the importance of taking into account policy transfer at the municipal level and not only transfers that take place between national states.