It's not like transit "outsourcing" I mean "public-private partnerships" are necessarily smooth sailing
WMATA has released an RFP for the operation of the second phase of the Silver Line ("Metro will outsource operation of Silver Line's second phase," Washington Business Journal).
The Union announced they are opposed, seeing outsourcing as leading to safety and other issues, although most comments on that score make the point that it's not like WMATA is running great now, with virtually all non-construction operations provided in-house.
While I do agree that WMATA needs to consider outsourcing as a way to reduce costs, and that needs to be seen in part as a shot at the major unions for their unwillingness to be more collaborative in considering system improvements and cost reductions, it shouldn't be seen as a smooth path.
Denver Transit Partners, the major example of finance-design-build-operate-maintain transit operation--this consortium got the contract for the Maryland Purple Line light rail too--is suing the transit agency in Denver in a dispute over charges against payments concerning certain aspects of operation of the A Line train ("Regional Transportation District sued by Denver Transit Partners," Denver Post). From the article:
Denver Transit Partners, through the lawsuit, is trying to force RTD “to reimburse them tens of millions of dollars for the crossing gate attendants that DTP has been paying for all along,” according to a RTD news release.That might be. I don't know the ins and outs of the safety regulations.
The transit consortium is citing a change in law, or a change in the interpretation of law, by federal and state rail safety agencies as being the reason for its failure to get final approval of grade crossings and quiet zones on RTD’s commuter rail system, according to RTD’s news release. Denver Transit Partners is attempting to recoup lost revenue, because of continual grade crossing failures, by suing the district, the release said.
And in this case, maybe the change requires a mutual response from both DTP and the transit agency.
And at least with there being flaggers in Denver, people aren't dying, as is the case in South Florida with the introduction of the Brightline railroad service ("Brightline train crashes into car in Hallandale Beach," WPLG-TV).
But usually it's on the other side, and the transit agency is left holding the bag.
When I was talking with an ex-Transport for London official when I was there in June, we discussed these kinds of issues, how such projects become 100% contractual, they aren't "partnerships." There, because of various national laws, transit services have to be operated by the private sector, with the exception of the London Underground, and services where the private sector will not bid, therefore requiring that the transit agency be the "Operator of Last Resort."
He commented on how the Crossrail concession wouldn't allow a change in technology which was developed after the contract was signed.
Using it will be cheaper and more reliable, but because it's not in the contract, they refused to change the specifications. So the change will be installed after the trains are delivered, costing more money, and adding to the delays of opening the system--which has moved back by one year ("Crossrail delay: New London line will open in autumn 2019," BBC News).
I've written too about how the Purple Line is now a "contract" and there isn't much room for change or flexibility as a result ("A Purple Line update: the downside of Public Private Partnerships" -- they are contracts, not partnerships").
Even without complex financing-design-build-manage-operate-maintain contracts, lawsuits between government agencies and construction firms are pretty common.