The Washington Post quoted Center Director Jonathan Gifford in a March 12 article on the $5.6 billion 36-year contract that would create the Purple Line light rail system in Maryland. Aptly titled “Determining if the Purple Line contract is a good deal isn’t easy,” the article focuses on the proposal as the Maryland Board of Public Works prepares for a vote on April 6.
The Purple Line is designed to run two-car trains along primarily local streets between Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George’s County, inside the Capital Beltway. Twenty-one station stops are planned. If approved, the public-private partnership would be one of the most expensive and longest-term contracts awarded in Maryland. The Purple Line would also be only the second U.S. transit project to rely on private financing.
Gifford’s comments included how hard it is to determine how well public-private partnerships work on U.S. transit projects because “we have a pretty short track record” with them. He says that the best ones allow the government to assume only the financial risks it can best handle.
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