Private Investment in Public Transport
Success Stories for Brazilian Cities
This paper explores strategies and approaches that effectively minimize risks for private investors in Brazil’s transport sector.
- Federal government policy can be well-intentioned but insufficient without allowing local governments the flexibility they need to implement deals.
- If not tailored to elicit co-investment, public financing can inadvertently crowd out private investment.
- Collaboration of financial partners, including development institutions, is highly valuable.
- Projects that utilize private partners are best served when performance incentives are aligned, and private sector has control over all activities that factor into their performance evaluation.
High rates of motorization and urbanization, particularly in developing countries, underpin strong growth in the transport sector. Burgeoning demand has made transport the world’s fastest-growing source of carbon emissions. The integration of urban transport financing and land-use strategies is a key element in managing growth in transport demand and emissions (IPCC 2014). The promotion and financing of public transport networks requires action from federal, state, and municipal governments, but the private sector has an instrumental role to play.
Market and institutional barriers pose investment risks and uncertainties that might limit a larger role for the private sector in urban public transport. The high level of perceived risk, low rates of return, and lack of confidence in the public sector are the main deterrents to investment. In order to highlight strategies and approaches that effectively minimize risk for private partners, this report examines two case studies from Brazil: Linha 4 of the São Paulo Metrô, and Estação Barreiro bus terminal in Belo Horizonte. Based on WRI research on private climate finance (Polycarp et al. 2013; Venugopal and Srivastava 2012), we adopt a framework that analyzes public interventions on two levels: supporting enabling conditions at the market level and implementing de-risking instruments at the project level.