WASHINGTON, D.C. — Public-private partnerships may have costly repercussions to the North American trucking industry, namely with high-priced tolls and little public input on infrastructure costs, design or safety.
That was the conclusion of a report issued by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO warned motorists that utilizing public-private partnerships to fund infrastructure, could be more costly than traditional funding solutions, and may not sufficiently consider the public good. This declaration confirmed the American Trucking Association’s worst fears on the matter.
“Schemes such as the privatization and tolling of existing highway infrastructure, will result in Americans paying a significantly higher price to access our highway system, while receiving less in the form of safe, efficient and reliable roadways,” said ATA president and CEO, Bill Graves, who was pleased that the GAO was on-side with the ATA’s views.
“It’s an important development to have the GAO acknowledge that such funding mechanisms are not in the best interest of the American taxpayers.”
The GAO report indicated that any benefits to public-private partnerships come with trade-offs that overlook public interest and are costly to the public sector. For example: tolls on privately operated highways will likely be higher than on publicly-operated toll roads; infrastructure costs may be higher; and the public will have less input on design, safety concerns or toll rates. The GAO also considered the potential for a private monopoly setting toll rates that exceed the cost of the facility.
The ATA opposes the lease or sale of existing toll roads, bridges or tunnels, to private entities and has called on the US federal government to abandon these financing techniques. The trucking industry supports a toll-free national highway system where funds to finance highway improvement primarily come from fuel taxes. ATA believes privatization permits operators to increase tolls to prohibitive levels. Under such lease agreements, the public loses a degree of control over the road, and there are no guarantees that service and safety levels will be maintained.
A full copy of the GAO report can be accessed at: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0844.pdf.
Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry. All posts by Truck News