Efficiency measurement in public transport: Are findings specification sensitive?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, operations - performance, organisation - contracting


Transit efficiency, Transit costs, Production functions, Transport performance


The need to measure transit system performance along with its various dimensions such as efficiency and effectiveness has led to the development of a wide array of approaches and vast literature. However, depending upon the specific approach used to examine performance, different conclusions are oftentimes reached. Using data from 15 European transit systems for a ten year time period (1990–2000), this paper discusses three important transit performance questions; (i) Do different efficiency assessment methodologies produce similar results? (ii) How are the two basic dimensions of transit performance, namely efficiency and effectiveness, related? and (iii) Are findings regarding organizational regimes (public operations, contracting and so on) sensitive to the methodological specifications employed? Results clearly indicate that efficiency scores and associated recommendations are sensitive to the models used, while efficiency and effectiveness are – albeit weakly – negatively related; these two findings can have far reaching policy implications.


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


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