Why does America pay so much for transit infrastructure but get so little compared to other countries? The Transit Costs Project at NYU tackles this question and provides some very interesting conclusions in their recently released report.
Defying some conventional wisdom about why it’s expensive to build in the U.S. (unions! environmental regulations!), the authors conclude that American transit agencies overspend in just about every aspect relative to their overseas peers, not just one or two areas. Much of this is due, they argue, to the fact that the planning and management of American projects have been largely outsourced to the private sector using “design-build” arrangements that drive up costs. The problem is fixable, but it will require political backing and a rebuilding of in-house agency expertise to manage large-scale capital construction.
For anyone interested in transit or public policy, the whole report is well-worth a read. Kudos to the folks who put this together. I hope US transit agencies and their federal partners will take action on its findings.