Interview: Jean-Marc Janaillac
How useful are public-private partnerships (PPPs) for the development of the transport sector?
JEAN-MARC JANAILLAC: PPPs can be developed in various forms, depending on whether the public authority commits financially and assumes part of the commercial risk. The model chosen for the metro in Algiers is that the Ministry of Transport sponsors the project by providing the associated infrastructure and rolling stock. Private operators provide technical and operational know-how, train personnel and ensure the transfer of skills.
What are the main factors influencing the implementation of public transport projects?
JANAILLAC: Private sector participation is critical, bringing funding, expertise and efficiency to the development of projects, particularly in emerging countries. Nevertheless, various risk factors affect PPPs and the intensity of private investment. Transport projects are prone to specific risks and usually imply long-term commitment, making investors particularly exposed to uncertainties. Private entities should therefore evaluate the different risk factors specific to each project, but also take into account factors such as the country’s environment. This risk assessment will be reflected in the willingness to enter a PPP arrangement.
Investment decisions are taken based mostly on the economic prospects, but also on the institutional environment. The intensity of such investments is a response to the financial and economic conditions of the host country. In emerging countries, the decision-making process of institutions is the main obstacle to project development. In Algeria, most plans were frozen by the civil war and the metro project was affected.
In what way do synergies benefit the network?
JANAILLAC: A carefully coordinated combination of initiatives can enable emerging countries to develop an integrated, multi-modal transport system, and provide a clear roadmap for how emerging cities could solve seemingly intractable transport problems that impede economic growth. Metro and tram networks remain underdeveloped, and there is a need to restructure public and private bus networks. There is also a need to create parking spaces, and a diversified pricing policy is required to take into account all social groups.
How can the image of public transport be improved?
JANAILLAC: Cities and governments have a crucial role to play today in fostering economic development and wealth creation. Public transport needs to be prioritised to tackle the urban mobility challenges faced by many cities. Ambitious and visionary strategies are essential to change current mobility patterns. The public transport sector has the ambition to improve the urban environment, both for citizens and businesses, as it already does in a number of urban centres. Operators could boost business development through quality delivery, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Governments can also have a positive impact by recognising public transport as part of the solution, earmarking resources and organising the sector judiciously. Cities and local authorities can develop sustainable mobility as part of integrated urban policies. Industry operators could play a part in developing innovative, reliable and cost-efficient products and solutions. In Algeria the tram and metro are most frequently used by the middle class, due to the relatively high prices. However, efforts should be made to encourage everyone to use public transport. Urban territory is still more favourable to cars than buses. There are no bus lanes in Algeria. Priority for trams at road junctions is not yet effective, but will come in the future.
How important are additional efforts to further the promotion of skills transfer?
JANAILLAC: This is essential in structuring transport policy and there is a strong will for it. Skills transfer is at the core of our partnership with Entreprise Metro d’Alger. It is a decisive factor in our trams agreement, with the establishment of a training centre in Algiers.
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