Recognize the challenges of using public-private partnerships in deployed coordinated transit systems.
Experience from the Lake Tahoe Coordinated Transit System.
- Lakeside Inn and Casino
- City of South Lake Tahoe
- El Dorado County
- Douglas County
- Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
- Tahoe Transportation District
- Harvey's Hotel Casino
- Heavenly Ski Resort
- Caesars Lake Tahoe
The following set of lessons learned addresses institutional issues encountered during the project, with a particular focus on lessons learned regarding public/private partnerships.
- Be aware of different perspectives between the public and private stakeholders. The different objectives of for-profit businesses versus public agencies created varying perspectives and priorities on the CTS board. In general, the private partners were interested in seeing a return on their investment dollars and viewed the transit service as a business, whereas the public agencies had a mission to provide a transit service that promoted mobility and environmental benefits. A discussion of the decision making process within the CTS Board emphasized the differences in perspectives. While the private partner stakeholders tended to feel that the decision making process was slow and bureaucratic, several of the public agency representatives indicated that the group may have moved too quickly. Despite their differences in perspective, the stakeholders’ commitment to providing a coordinated transit service remained steadfast throughout the course of the project and enabled them to overcome their differences.
- Keep private partners at the table. A significant challenge for this project was keeping the casino properties on board, especially when working through difficulties with the technology and the declines in ridership associated with these problems. The fact that the casino properties provided operating funding made their involvement vital to the success of the CTS project. The interviews revealed that the congestion mitigation credits that businesses received for participating in CTS were a significant incentive for keeping private partner at the table. Development in the area is severely restricted, and credits are required in order to approve any additions to the casinos.
- Consider a Participation Agreement for the Partners. In 1998, the stakeholders created a participation agreement to tie them together contractually. In order to opt out of the contract, a member must give 90 days notice to the board and must give evidence that the CTS is not meeting their needs from an operational and technical point of view. By making it more difficult for partners to walk away from the project, the Participation Agreement encouraged partners to resolve their problems.
- Be aware of turnover within the private sector management. A significant challenge for the CTS Board has been the frequent turnover of the general managers of the casino properties. The recurrent movement of general managers makes it challenging to obtain buy-in from the upper level management of the casino property. With each new general manager, there is uncertainty regarding support for the project, and the CTS Board must justify to the new manager the casino’s contribution of operating funding to the project.
- Include stakeholders with transit experience on the managing board. While the CTS Board was generally viewed as an effective institutional arrangement, the lack of transit management experience caused project setbacks. Originally the planners of the system were comprised of marketing and business experts, who lacked a transit or transportation background, and so the design of the system had to be redone, which wasted transportation funding.
- Recognize the importance of strong leadership. The success of the Board was due in large part to the strong leadership of the Board chairperson and his ability to understand and articulate the perspectives of both the public and the private partners. While views differed on whether a single leader or "leadership by committee" was preferred, all stakeholders agreed that the Chairperson provided strong leadership, energizing the group and maintaining a consensus-based vision for CTS. This enabled the Board to act on problems more effectively and to develop viable solutions to problems.
Author: Rephlo, J., and D. Woodley
Published By: U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration
Prepared by SAIC for the USDOT FHWA
Source Date: 4/14/2006
EDL Number: 14316URL: http://ntl.bts.gov/lib//jpodocs/repts_te/14316.htm
RITA/Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
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