The value of bus and train: public values in public transport

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus


Why do governments provide support for public transport service provision? Over time and in various countries the answer to that question has been varying. Recently, the improvement of efficiency in that provision has led many European governments to strengthen the role of private companies. Does this stronger role of private companies harm the other values governments seek from public transport? To answer that question we need an overview of those values. That is what this paper tries to establish: an overview in the form of a typology of the values governments seek from public transport. We will refer to them as e will refer to them as public values. The typology is based on three levels of analysis: • A wide scan of current greenpapers and whitepapers of Dutch and Belgian local public transport authorities, delivering a long list and typology of public values in public transport; • A historical scan of Dutch national whitepapers to evaluate how the support for various public values of the list changes over time; • A comparison to current national whitepaper of several European countries to see how current support varies from country to country. The paper concludes that, though national policies differ greatly, the values sought from public transport are similar throughout Europe and through time. The emphasis on specific types of public values is different on various levels of administration, but the overall set of values sought is very similar. Some differences in emphasis in various countries and times are interesting. The typology presented has already proven useful as a checklist for local and national governments when formulating their policy white papers and their specifications for public transport. The list also provides a basis for the analysis of the guarding of public values by 25 European public transport authorities. The next step of this research is to analyse how these values are guarded and determine successes and failures in guarding the various values.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.