New publication, Handbook on Urban Infrastructure Finance
The Handbook on Urban Infrastructure Finance has just been published by the New Cities Foundation. An interview with the author, Professor Julie Kim, is online at Citiscope ("Breaking municipal finance down to its basics").
This particular program sells bonds to developers who are motivated to buy because the bonds include density bonuses for new construction, but they function similarly to tax increment financing districts in the US.
The handbook's intended audience are public officials in growing cities in developing countries, although I believe it's likely a worthy read for government officials and citizens in all major cities.
Another side of infrastructure is considering it as an "asset class," not just from the financing standpoint but from how local governments consider buildings, sites, and land as assets, and how they plan, budget, construct, and maintain it.
-- "Town-city management: "We are all asset managers now""
-- "Capital/civic asset planning, budgeting and management processes"
Many cities, especially DC, could improve how they handle such matters.
In DC, the city has certain "public private partnership" vehicles in place such as the entity that manages the DC Circulator bus service. But the city never followed through on bidding out the building and operating of a city-wide streetcar system. In Maryland, the State has just awarded such a contract to build the Purple Line light rail system in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties ("Companies selected to build Purple Line," WTOP radio).
Contracting out or outsourcing transit operations, sanitation, and certain building operations (e.g., SMG is a firm that among other activities, manages theaters, auditoriums, and small arenas for many cities across the country) is becoming pretty common across the country. And toll roads and high occupancy toll road expansion projects. But the big design-build-operate-finance projects in rail transit are still pretty rare, partly because such projects are few in number.
Interestingly, I just had an interaction with a firm that had been bidding on these kinds of big rail transit projects and they've decided to pull back, arguing that the cost to pursue the projects is particularly high in money and time, the likelihood of not winning bids is high, and competition for deals reduces profits significantly to the point where they are unsure that the business is profitable to pursue.