The Spanish situation of road public transport competition

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

organisation - competition


This paper describes the Spanish evolution, present situation and perspectives of public transport competition at the 3 different levels of competencies: interurban, metropolitan and urban. Concession contracts are very common in Spain for interurban and metropolitan coach services where the “controlled competition” model has lead to very positive results, being successfully exported to many European countries. Those license contracts are the result of public tenders calls by the national, regional government or Public Transport Authorities depending on the service owner. They are regulated by the Land Transport Law (LOTT, 1987) or the Regional Law in force, that provides to the concessionaire the traffic sole right in the awarded itinerary. The interurban and metropolitan scenarios are relatively calmed in Spain, due to the long period (12-25 years) of the awarded concessions ending between 2007 and 2017, that will probably change according to the new EU schemes (8 years max). At urban level, municipalities are the responsible bodies to call for and award these concessions. However, in this case the situation is very different, being historical public bus companies operating in most of the big Spanish cities under a monopoly controlled regime without expiration dates, something similar to what is happening with railway modes, where the monopoly scheme is even stronger. This contrasts with the situation in other countries, where urban transport services are mainly operated by private companies alone or together with the administration through mixed companies under short time concession periods. In the case of small cities, the context is becoming more and more active with many public transport service calls and an important company concentration process. The future of road public transport in Spain will be analyzed taking into account both, the new European regulations and the incorporation to the market of some foreign companies. The paper will show also how to keep or increase their market share, transport services companies should not focus only on the supply planning (cost reduction side) but on the demand planning (income increase side) in order to maximize the benefit.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.