P3s - Lessons Learned from Major Transit Projects

Project Summary


Seeking Funding

Research Area

Transit, Transportation Financing

Responsible Council / Committee

Urban Transportation Council / Transportation Finance Standing Committee

Project Funding Partners

Ministry of Transportation, Ontario; Ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité durable et de l’Électrification des transports du Québec; Translink; Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain; Metrolinx

Total Funding Estimate


Project Category

Economics & Administration
Municipal / Urban

Staff Contact


Over the past decade, public-private partnerships (P3s) have become a common method for delivering major capital projects in Canada.  It is expected that P3s will continue to play an important role in delivering major transit infrastructure across Canada, as evidenced at the national level by creation of the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

There is an opportunity to draw on experience across Canada to clarify the role of P3s, learn key challenges and opportunities and how P3s can be best applied by the public sector to reduce risk and improve effectiveness in project funding and delivering.

A number of major P3 transit projects are at various stages of implementation – from consideration, to delivery, to up to a decade of operating experience, providing a broader lifecycle perspective on these initiatives.

The major objectives of this TAC project are to:

  • Clarify the role and intended goals of P3s in delivering major transit projects and determine key opportunities and challenges for public agencies in achieving these goals.
  • Identify lessons learned, recommendations, and considerations for public agencies to improve application of P3s for transit projects. The lessons learned include those related to both construction and operation of transit projects with respect to risk management, project delivery, financing and project outcomes.   
  • Determine potential applicability (e.g. common themes, differences etc.) to other transportation infrastructure projects (e.g. roads, bridges etc.) at different scales (e.g. small to medium size projects).

Key tasks for accomplishing the project objectives will include:

  • A literature review to compile key findings from past research and analysis on P3s.
  • Organizing a panel session of P3 experts and practitioners from the public (federal, provincial, and local agencies) and private sector, conducting web-surveys, telephone interviews, in-person discussions and workshops to solicit input on key aspects of the P3 projects delivery including considerations, challenges, project outcome, performance indicators, etc.   

The work will culminate in a report outlining key objectives for P3s and findings from past research, state of practice and experiences with P3s. The report will also include a summary of lessons learned from major transit projects and recommendations regarding the need for a study on applicability to other project types and scales.