Public-Private Partnerships

Photo by Joseph Balzano on Unsplash

As governments have sought to address disruptions and new requirements for transport systems stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, they have increasingly turned to building partnerships with private sector partners to help deliver services and provide technical expertise and infrastructure. Some of the issues that have been addressed by these public-private partnerships include providing new safer ways to deliver essential goods, providing increased mobility options such as on-demand shuttle services and e-bicycles for essential workers and citizens, and offering digital and contactless payment options on public transport. 

For example, across the United States and Europe, many bike share companies have partnered with cities to offer free or reduced rates for essential workers. In Berlin, the car hiring service Via suspended regular operations to exclusively provide free on-demand rides for medical and nursing staff during night-time hours, and have operated a similar initiative in Abu Dhabi.  

Cities like Madrid, Rotterdam, and Rome are partnering with companies to introduce e-bicycles and scooters to provide new mobility options and prevent overcrowding on public transport systems. Cities have also partnered with the private sector to build networks of cargo bicycles to deliver goods to people during stay-at-home orders, including in Montreal, where the initiative has been so successful that local officials are considering making it permanent.  

Ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft have also partnered with governments to help deliver essential goods, such as food and medicine, in Australia, Portugal, South Africa, and the United States. In the state of Punjab, India, the ridesharing company Ola has partnered with the government to help safely connect farmers with markets, using its technology platform to track the movement of farmers and their vehicles in and around markets in order to manage real time flows and prevent crowding.  

COVID-19 has also accelerated the move towards digital payments. In Delhi, the government has partnered with a QR code-based ticketing app to offer safer, cashless ticketing on buses, and in Kenya, telecommunications companies and fare collection providers are partnering with matatu drivers to scale-up contactless payments.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused new challenges in the transport sector which are being addressed through innovative public-private partnerships. While some of these challenges may eventually dissipate, the COVID-pandemic has highlighted new opportunities to improve the accessibility, safety, and efficiency of services through partnerships that will likely endure. 


This section was developed by SLOCAT Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport with contributions from New Urban Mobility (NUMO).