Public transport service design in competitive tendering in the Netherlands: dreams vs. real life


D van de Velde

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe


After more than five years of practice of competitive tendering in local public transport in the Netherlands we can now see clearly some of the results of this new regime in terms of performances. The main subject of this paper, however, is not such much the resulting performances of these practices, but rather the evolution in the choices made by the tendering authorities. The Dutch legislator, when introducing the legislation that enabled competitive tendering in public transport, dreamt of giving to the operator more powers to redesign transport services. While some authorities do indeed attempts to stimulated operators to redevelop services, we can also observe that a (growing) number of authorities do control strictly public transport supply, following regimes that are akin to what is being used in, e.g., Sweden. In this paper, we analyse the reasons that cause regional transport authorities to change their minds in terms of allocation of the tactical (services design) powers to operators, both during the tendering process and also during the contractual period. We link those to the various levels of institutions (laws, regulations, governance choices and contracts) in the sense of institutional economics) and to their interdependance. Observation of the first years of tendering has already revealed that opposite movements could be observed and that different solutions are used for similar problems or frustrations by local authorities. Our observations and analysis are based upon in depth interviews with responsible civil servants at the local level. We follow authorities that have already conducted several rounds of competitive tendering and describe the evolution of their choices.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.