Building a Rail Transit System: The Private Sector Role
In November 1996, Puget Sound voters chose to raise their taxes to allocate nearly $4 billion over the next decade to implement two new rail systems to connect points in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties. These systems will cost billions of dollars to build, and could include a massive tunnel underneath Capitol Hill and the Lake Washington Ship Canal as part of a new light rail system. So far, all the financial risks for these new systems will be entirely borne, as usual, by the taxpayers. Does this have to be the case?
Vancouver, BC based infrastructure consultant Jonathan Huggett says no. Huggett, who has over 25 years of experience building public works projects including Vancouver's SkyTrain, says that by using an open and competitive implementation process the Regional Transit Authority could significantly lower their costs. He thinks they have four options before them, all of which deal with their relationship with the private sector and its ability to infuse competitive pressures into public processes.