Faced with an infrastructure investment bill which the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates will total US$11 trillion by 2030, governments around the world are being forced to take a fresh approach to the funding of public transport.
Finding innovate ways of financing public transport is the focus of the 2013 International Transport Forum conference, which will be attended by transport ministers from the forum’s 54 member countries. “Today’s societies simply cannot afford to not offer good mobility.
Without the access provided by transport, many other societal investments could not deliver their true value,” says the 2013 President of the International Transport Forum and Norwegian Minister of Transport and Communications Marit Arnstad. “What good are schools that children cannot get to, or health services that are not easily accessible for patients? What value have workplaces out of reach for job seekers, or merchandise that cannot be delivered to customers?” she asks in her welcome to delegates. “New technologies offer new opportunities, but also demand significant upfront investments. If we cannot meet these challenges, faltering networks can hold back economic growth and reduce opportunities for citizens. Because providing transport is such an integral part of achieving much broader societal objectives, new thinking is needed on how to create sound and predictable funding,” she says.
Transport ministers from the Forum’s 54 member countries have been meeting in Leipzig, Germany every May since 2008 to discuss current challenges and align perspectives on a specific issue of strategic importance. Senior business leaders, top researchers and civil society groups from around the globe will join them from May 22 to 24, 2013. “Our transport infrastructure is much more than asphalt or concrete. It is the lifeblood of society and the backbone of the national economy,” adds Dr. Peter Ramsauer, the German Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development. “Funding transport has become a key issue of modern transport policy. Let us therefore come together at the International Transport Forum’s Annual Summit and discuss how we can place the financing of our transport infrastructure on a sound foundation, both now and in the future,” he says. “It is scarcely possible any more to meet the expenditure required for infrastructure schemes from public finances alone.
In many countries, therefore, approaches have been adopted for making infrastructure financing less dependent on public purse funding. One of the key instruments here is the “user-pays principle” and its various forms, which is considered an effective means for traffic management and environmental protection. “Another financing instrument, which has been the subject of intensive discussion, is the greater involvement of private sector capital. In Germany, public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the sector of transport infrastructure financing are still a relatively new feature. Other countries have much more experience in this sphere.
Alongside PPPs, other models for tying in private sector investment are conceivable – for instance fund-based solutions,” he says. The programme for the 2013 summit includes technical tours, round table discussions (both closed and open) and minister round table meetings, as well as a full programme of side events.