The Year 2011 in Surface Transportation and Aviation Privatization

The rollout of Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report 2011 continues today with the release of the Surface Transportation Privtization and Aviation Privatization sections authored by Reason’s Bob Poole. The Surface Transportation section provides a comprehensive overview of the latest on toll roads, HOT lanes and other news on privatization and public-private partnerships in surface transportation. The Aviation section provides a comprehensive overview on the latest news on domestic and international airport privatization and privatization of airport security. Topics include:

Surface Transportation

  • In 2011, infrastructure finance continued to recover from the credit market crunch of 2009. The amount of capital available in infrastructure equity investment funds reached a new all-time high.
  • Over the past five years, the 30 largest global infrastructure investment funds have raised a total of $183.1 billion dedicated to financing infrastructure projects, with the bulk coming from U.S., Australian and Canadian inventors.
  • Eight major privately financed transportation projects were under construction in the U.S. in 2011 totaling over $13 billion investment, including megaprojects in Virginia, Texas and Florida.
  • In 2010 CalPERS, the largest U.S. public employee pension fund, purchased a 12.7% equity stake in London Gatwick Airport, and public pension funds in Arizona, Louisiana, Oregon, Texas and San Diego are seeking similar investments.
  • Puerto Rico’s Public-Private Partnership Authority announced a $1.5 billion lease of the PR-22 and PR-5 toll roads, their as its first large-scale project. Ohio officials are considering a similar lease of the Ohio Turnpike.
  • Other topics include the federal role in private infrastructure finance, an update on high-occupancy toll and express lane projects in the U.S., and a review of toll road developments in the states and across the world.


  • In the aftermath of the credit markets crunch of 2008—2009, the airport market continued its recovery in 2011, with efforts including Puerto Rico’s current plan to privatize San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport and Chicago’s continued interest in a potential Midway Airport lease.
  • A total of 48% of European air passengers were handled by partly or fully privatized airports in 2011, with that share likely to grow with impending privatization initiatives in Spain and Greece.
  • Amid public outrage over TSA’s introduction of body scanners and aggressive pat-downs, the administration and Congress continued to battle over proposals to allow airports to opt-out of TSA security and hire private screeners. However, some progress was made in Washington D.C. over reviving the trusted traveler program, advancing a more risk-based approach to security.
  • Since 1990, 51 governments have commercialized their air traffic control systems, separating the air traffic control functions from regulatory bodies, removing them from civil service, and making them self-supporting from fees charged to aircraft operators. However, there was no significant progress in 2011 toward commercializing air traffic control in the United States.
  • Other news on domestic and international airport privatization and air traffic control commercialization