As divisive as they are alliterative, public-private partnerships (P3s) combine public need with private expertise or investment, helping governments combat the global recession and finance numerous infrastructure improvements around the world. P3s have become an increasingly common financing mechanism for many types of urban infrastructure, including transportation systems, communication networks, energy grids, water and wastewater treatment plants, and social infrastructure assets.
P3s can take many forms. Sometimes they involve attracting private sector capital to replace or fill the gap left by public funding shortfalls. Partnerships also can take the form of long-term operating and maintenance contracts that transfer risks and costs to the private sector. Partners from the private sector are paid for developing and operating a facility and maintaining it for public use, while the public sector receives the revenues from any user fees. In this scenario, the parties in