Regulating the regulator: The impact of professional procuring bodies on local public transport policy and its effectiveness

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, organisation - contracting, mode - bus, organisation - governance, organisation - performance, organisation - structures, organisation - competition, organisation - regulation


Competitive tendering, Professional procuring body, Competition, Public transport, Contractual relationship


During the past 15 years competitive tenders have become a common procedure when procuring local bus services in Europe. In particular, tenders with gross cost contracts and the so-called Scandinavian model have gained popularity, resulting in a vast amount of research on optimal contractual relationships between government and operators. This paper pays attention to a rather neglected part of the Scandinavian model: the construction of professional procuring bodies and their relationship to the local public administration, focusing on its implications for policy steering and service performance. The paper outlines briefly two different perspectives of analyses of organisational models: one perspective is anchored in principal-agent theory and institutional economics; and the other perspective in political science. Empirically, the article is based on an evaluation of the relation between two Norwegian counties and the administrative company responsible for planning and procuring public transport services. This evaluation indicates, firstly, important common challenges for the county administration due to lack of regional administrative competencies in relation to the administrative company, which also hampers the county’s role as coordinator of policy areas of importance for public transport. Secondly, due to increased transaction costs, the establishment of administrative companies does not seem compatible with contracts relying on net cost solutions with huge scope for operator initiatives.


Permission to publish the abstract given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


Research in Transportation Economics Home Page: