The Planning and Appraisal of Mega Transport Infrastructure Projects Delivered by Public–Private Partnerships: The Case for the Use of Policy-Led Multi-Criteria Analysis

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Mega transport infrastructure projects are frequently perceived as critical to the “success” of major metropolitan, regional and national development because of their potential to affect significant socioeconomic and territorial changes. However, the mega infrastructure development literature tends to focus upon the frequent failures of such projects because of their inability to meet their original expectations.

A major cause for such perceived underperformance has been attributed to the inadequacies of ex-ante project appraisal methodologies. In particular, their excessively narrow focus has prompted growing calls for broader and more transparent project appraisal frameworks. These calls coincide with a period where public private partnerships (PPPs) are growing in importance globally as the favoured procurement route for governments looking to undertake new mega transport infrastructure developments. Some see the practicalities of PPPs as placing them at odds with aspirations for more inclusive and open project appraisal with adequate consideration of the public interest.

It is the authors’ contention that if introduced with broader and more systematically presented sustainability concerns, PPPs can remain compatible with such ambitions. Towards this end, this paper presents the rudimentaries of a policy-led multi-criteria analysis (PLMCA) approach to project appraisal as a means by which PLMCA can contribute to more holistic PPP procurement practices. The authors contend in the latter part of the paper that PLMCA addresses many of the limitations associated with the application of narrower decision-making and project appraisal approaches currently supporting PPPs and other more conventional procurement practices.

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