Successful public transport: with or without competition

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

organisation - competition


The urban public transport in the Netherlands is for the greater part organized by public companies; who are for the greater part financed by public money. A large amount of public money is involved, because the cost-effectiviness of urban public transport (including investments) is about 30 to 35%. Contrary to some other European countries, competition has not yet been implemented at a large scale in the Netherlands. Until 1998 most transport companies were not even influenced by financial incentives. (Since 1998 subsidies are based on revenues instead of on costs made by the public transport company.) A very undutch situation, actually, because of our image of economy and our tradition as a trading nation. Caution, however, is also very characteristic for the dutch way of policy making. For several years now experiments have been going on in the periferal regions to determine the consequences of competition and to explore the possiblities of regional cooperation. In the mean time, a new law on personal travel, enabling the implementation of competition in the public transport, has been prepared. The law has not been accepted yet. To support the decision making in the House of Commons, whether or not competition should be implemented, the Research Centre of the Ministry of Transport has carried out a research.(1). Ten of the most snccessfuU European cities, regarding the public transport, were examined to determine which factors have led to success and what role competition has played in reaching that level of success. Five of the cities have implemented competition in the urban or regional public transport; the other five have a more traditional organisation of the public transport having public companies to run the buses, trams and metros. (A short description of the urban transport in these cities is given in Apendix 1 and 2). The research gives a differentiating answer: competiton can have favourable effects if it is submitted to particular conditions. However, it isn't necessary to apply competition as an insmarnent to achieve a successfull public transport.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.