Urban public transport in Europe: Technology diffusion and market organisation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, mode - tram/light rail, economics - appraisal/evaluation


Urban public transport, Technological change


Technological change and incremental technology, at various levels, are believed to have played an important role in the success of urban public transport in Europe. In this paper, a historical overview of the evolution of different transport modes across different European cities is presented. Our major concern is with the processes of diffusion of urban transport modes in European cities and, in particular, with the factors, mainly of an economic nature, that may explain their rates of adoption across Europe. Among these factors, special attention is given to the role played by the dimension and organisation of public transport markets in the rates of adoption of different public transport modes. The main conclusion of the paper is that the success of the introduction of a new transport mode appeared to be mainly related to its ability to provide cheaper and more reliable transport services compared with previous transport modes, and that, in the case of the electric tram, this was achieved by transforming of the structure of the market relating to this urban transport mode into monopolies.


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


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