When Quincy Mayor Tom Koch talks about the renaissance of development in his city, he credits the Red Line. Despite its problems, he says public transportation has drawn other major private investment to the city. Which raises the question: if businesses profit from developing near public transportation, can they, or should they in turn contribute financially to it.

It appears Phil Eng, the T’s new general manager thinks so.

At a virtual forum hosted by the MBTA Board Thursday Eng cited his experience with transit oriented development running the Long Island Railroad. “When the private sector realizes the importance of the coexistence of improved transportation services, I think that they're more willing to see how maybe we could partner together," he said. "And, you know, if we improve the T, we improve their investments as well.”

And the new Chair of the MBTA Board Tom Glynn suggested efforts are being made to involve the private sector in helping the T cope with the financial challenges it faces. “Phil [Eng] has started the process of trying to reach out to various people in the business community to get their sense of what might be possible,” he said.

Such public-private cooperation is not new in Boston.

Instead of waiting for the T to build a new commuter rail station in Brighton, New Balance went ahead on its own to finance the $20 million Brighton Landing station in 2015. It filled a gap between Wellesley and Back Bay on the Framingham-Worcester Line and brought commuter rail back to Brighton for the first time in more than 50 years.

The new station is right next to New Balance’s headquarters on Guest Street. That block also includes practice space for the Boston Bruins and Celtics along with a new world class running track, office, lab, and retail space, all part of New Balance's real estate development.

And the Hines Corporation is investing $150 million dollars into improving MBTA infrastructure at South Station, including a new outdoor concourse for commuter rail and a new expanded bus terminal connected to the train station. In exchange, the company has been given the air rights above the station to build a 51-story office and residential tower.

Looking to the future, Harvard University has offered to put $58 million into a new commuter rail station in Allston as part of the I-90 redevelopment project there. These public private partnerships produce millions of dollars’ worth of construction and upgrades that the MBTA would otherwise have to pay for.

But Beth Osbourne, Director of Transportation for America, warns that although such public private partnerships have been tried in several places, they haven’t always been successful. Although private investment worked in completing the Gold Line in LA which connects East Los Angeles to the downtown Union Station transportation hub, the new Purple Line light rail in the Washington, DC suburbs stalled when the private partner there ran out of money. Construction just resumed after a two-year hiatus. Osbourne says “most transit projects are held up by lack of funding and these projects are not designed to throw off profit [like a toll-based highway is] so they aren't as well designed for financing.”

Rick Dimino, CEO of A Better City, has written about the potential of public private partnerships to aid the development of electric buses in Boston. “The MBTA needs to convert all nine of their existing bus maintenance facilities, but just one new facility in Quincy is estimated to cost over $400 million," he said. "There are serious questions whether the MBTA has the financial capacity and expertise to modernize each facility. Dimino said public-private partnerships "can work for the MBTA and should be on the table."