Experiences with Competitive Tendering of Bus Services in Germany


Arne Beck

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - europe, organisation - competition, organisation - contracting


competitive tendering, Germany, Bus companies, public transport


After a long transition period with only a few isolated procedures for competitive tendering, the market for German public transport bus services has seen numerous such tenders in recent years. The results are complex. From the public transport authorities' point of view, the main effects are a decrease in subsidy payments, with relatively low expenses relating to the tendering process (allocation, contract management). The overall level of competition is high, with five to seven bidders on average, although this has been declining in recent years. Entry barriers have been identified at significant levels for several parameters, especially with respect to the volume tendered and the revenue risk to be borne by the operator out of net-cost contracts. Demonstrably small- and medium-sized transport operators have been able to increase their market share in the starting phase of introducing tendering, with diminishing success rates in recent years. Due to the increased quality requirements in competitive tendering, the quality of public transport available has improved considerably, and environmental standards have been better implemented and sustained. As far as employees are concerned, a trend towards wages below the wage rate of private operators cannot be observed. However, their level is well below the level of public incumbent operators.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor & Francis, copyright remains with them.