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Prof. Chris Lee on Public/Private Partnerships: Charging toward a zero-emission transit fleet

Conversion of bus base facilities, the heart of transit operations, for electric vehicle charging is a large-scale project with many players and complex needs. One option for transit agencies working to shift to a zero-emission fleet is a public-private partnership model (P3), which defers upfront capital construction costs and has the potential to help agencies meet long-term sustainability and resiliency goals.

New research out of the Mobility Innovation Center at the University of Washington (UW), led by professor Hyun Woo “Chris” Lee and senior research scientist Laura Osburn of the Department of Construction Management in UW’s College of Built Environments, explored this possibility and highlighted opportunities and challenges. The team found that P3, a practice common to infrastructure projects like toll roads could apply to transit electrification. The team also looked to existing transit facility conversion projects that have used P3 to glean best practices.

“There is not a one-size-fits-all approach for P3, and it may not be a solution for every project, but there are some public agencies that have used elements of this project delivery method successfully,” said Lee, lead author for the study. “What we’ve learned from some of the early adopters can serve as a template for others to consider.”