Tag Archives: Virginia

More states privatizing their infrastructure. Are they making a mistake?

Source: Brad Plumer, Washington Post, Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog, Sunday, April 1, 2012

Say you’re a state politician. Your local roads, bridges, and transit systems are all in dire need of upgrades. But there’s not much money left. Budgets are crunched. No one wants to raise taxes. And Congress is throttling back on transportation funding. So what’s left? Privatization, of course….

…. While advocates claim that the private sector can operate these toll roads more efficiently, the major appeal of these moves is to solve short-term budget crunches. Essentially, state officials are giving up a source of revenue that’s spread out over a number of years — in Indiana’s case, tolls — and receiving a lump of cash upfront. “You might get less money overall, but you get it upfront, so that officials can go build the things they want to build,” explains Joshua Schank, the president of the Eno Center for Transportation. What’s more, the private firms are the ones that take the heat for raising fees and tolls, instead of jittery politicians….

Private-public deal could bring light rail to Va. Beach

Source: Mike Hixenbaugh, Virginian-Pilot, March 8, 2012

…At the request of City Manager Jim Spore, Farmer wrote to the state’s newly created Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships in February and asked that the potential Virginia Beach light-rail extension be added to a list of projects that might benefit from private investment. Increasingly, the state is looking to the private sector to help finance transportation projects…

In Privatizing Liquor Operations, States Hope They Can Drink Down Deficits

Source: Matt Sledge, Huffington Post, January 27, 2012

Proponents of liquor privatization in at least eight states hope they can drink their budget deficit pain away.

Privatization, which would do away with post-Prohibition regulations on the sale of distilled spirits, could herald a new era of easy access to liquor and perhaps cheaper prices. The move is being aggressively supported in some states by big box retailers like Costco, which are hoping to get a cut of the liquor market. But opponents say the onetime cash infusion that would come from selling off liquor licenses would sacrifice the revenue generated by state monopolies on liquor sales or distribution.

Franklin County weighs privatizing school buses / School officials say they need to save money, but they want to be cautious

Source: Amy Matzke-Fawcett, Roanoke Times, January 10, 2012

In an ongoing search for cost-cutting measures, the Franklin County School Board heard a pitch Monday about privatizing its school bus system…..

…The company that made a pitch to the board Monday was Student Transportation of America….But one sticking point for the board seemed to be the company’s bus fleet policies — the school system could sell its buses to the company for use within Franklin County, or lease the buses to them….Franklin County would not be the first local school system to privatize its bus system. Roanoke City Public Schools contracted with Mountain Valley Transportation, a division of Krapf Bus Cos., beginning in 2009.

Dulles rail project may tap private investors

Source: Liz Essley, Washington Examiner, November 28, 2011

The airports authority in charge of building the Dulles Metro rail project is now considering letting private investors help finance the nearly $6 billion project….The authority plans to issue a “request for information” asking private firms to suggest how a public-private partnership would work. Officials issued the request after an unidentified private interest contacted the authority about the possibility of investing.

Bus drivers fed up, locked out, then fired

Source: Jason Gooljar, Workers World, June 28 2011

On June 13, the bus drivers of AFSCME Local 3001, who drive the Arlington County, Va., buses, made the declaration that they have had enough. They were tired and pushed beyond the breaking point by the private contractor, Forsythe Transportation. Having been refused bathroom breaks, their schedules switched unfairly, being unjustly compensated and individuals amongst their ranks sexually harassed, they went out on strike. The last straw for these Arlington Transit (ART) drivers, the action that sent them to the picket line, was the firing of their leader for wearing a union button to work.
Striking bus drivers file rights complaint
Source: Liz Essley, Washington Examiner, June 16, 2011

States Take Their Time with Public-Private Partnerships

Source: Sean Slone, Council of State Governments, E-newsletter Issue #72, June 23, 2011

Despite the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, dwindling transportation revenues and a ready and willing private infrastructure investment industry, state governments are proceeding at their own pace when it comes to entering into public-private partnerships–also known as P3s–to finance transportation projects….

Virginia, Puerto Rico Move Ahead
Virginia is taking steps to greatly expand its P3 program. … Those changes include the establishment of an independent office of transportation P3s focusing solely on P3s; that office opened in June and will focus on the development of projects across all modes of transportation….Puerto Rico has taken that level of institutionalization to the next level, entering into an agreement in 2009 to have investment firm Macquarie Capital consult on development of the territory’s entire P3 program. …

Some States Move Cautiously
…New York, for example, plans to take a more cautious approach. Procurement laws prohibit the state from entering into P3s, but state officials hope the legislature will soon consider changing the law and establishing a framework for a P3 program….Texas also is taking a more measured approach…

Toll Road Privatization: As Ohio Considers It, Indiana Serves As Cautionary Tale

Source: Dave Jamieson, huffingtonpost.com, June 16, 2011

In two weeks, the cost of traveling the 157-mile length of the Indiana Toll Road will rise more than 2 percent, from $8.80 to an even $9, for those who pay the toll in cash. The fare will jump a full buck for truckers hauling semi-trailers, from $35.20 to $36.20. The July 1 toll hike may not seem so painful, until you consider that those tolls were about half of their soon-to-be rates only five years ago — and that they hadn’t risen for two decades prior to that. Even harder to swallow for some drivers, truckers in particular, is the fact that their growing contributions go not to the State of Indiana but to overseas investors who’ve leased the toll road from the state….. Much of the public, too, tends to squirm when we talk about leasing long-held government assets under contracts that span the better part of a century. Kasich’s musings haven’t escaped Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan (D), who believes leasing the Ohio Turnpike long-term could be disastrous.
Leasing of turnpike an option in budget
Source: John Seewer, Associated Press, July 5, 2011