The Power of Governance Models in Shaping Urban Public Transport Megaprojects

In this article, we're diving into the world of urban public transport megaprojects and the pivotal role governance models play in shaping their agenda. We're taking a closer look at a fascinating scholarly article co-authored by Professor Eric Champagne and Mohammed Kamal TAKI IMRANI that explores this topic in-depth, focusing on the case of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) in Montreal. To view the full article use the link below:

The role of governance models in the development of transport infrastructure megaprojects in Greater Montreal: The case of the Réseau express métropolitain

The REM: A Case Study in Governance and Agenda-Setting

The REM is one of the largest automated transportation system projects in North America. With an estimated construction cost of CAD 6.3 billion, 67 km of track, and 26 stations, it's a project of grand scale. But what's particularly interesting about the REM is its governance model. The project is led by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), an institutional investor that manages several public and parapublic pension and insurance programs on behalf of the Province of Quebec. 

The Role of Governance Models

Professor Champagne and his co-author pose a critical question: "To what extent does the choice of a governance model influence the agenda-setting of metropolitan public transport megaprojects?" They argue that the choice of a governance model is a crucial factor in setting the agenda for urban infrastructure megaprojects. This is due to the high costs of investments involved and the economic arrangements with the private sector. 

In the case of the REM, the project is presented as the first “public-public” partnership project in Quebec. This innovative business model involves the participation of thirteen municipal actors spread over the greater Montreal region, along with various levels of government and private sector entities. 

Kingdon's Model and Public-Private Partnerships

To analyze the influence of governance models on agenda-setting, Professor Champagne and his co-author use Kingdon's model of policy agenda-setting and the concept of public-private partnerships (PPPs). Kingdon's model proposes that public policy agenda-setting occurs in governmental systems characterized by ambiguity, with three distinct streams: the problem stream, the policy stream, and the politics stream. 

The authors argue that the choice of a governance model is a determining variable in setting the agenda for such megaprojects. They also introduce the concept of a "public-public" partnership, a variation of PPPs, using the REM project as an example. They state,

We argue that without the choice of a governance model in the pre-decision process, it would have been much more difficult to put urban public transport policies of this size on the agenda


The Takeaway

The article provides a compelling argument for the importance of governance models in shaping the agenda of urban public transport megaprojects. It highlights the need for researchers to study the contexts and decision-making processes that guide the choice of governance model in the development of urban infrastructure megaprojects.

So, next time you're stuck in traffic or waiting for a bus, remember that the solutions to these challenges are not just about engineering and technology. They're also about governance models, policy decisions, and the complex process of agenda-setting. 

As we reflect on the authors' insights, we're left with some thought-provoking questions: How can we ensure that the governance models chosen for urban infrastructure projects meet the needs of citizens? How can we promote transparency and accountability in these projects? And how can we leverage public-public partnerships to drive innovation and efficiency in urban public transport?

Stay tuned for more insights into the fascinating world of urban development and public administration!

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