Evaluating the long term impacts of transport policy: An initial assessment of bus deregulation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - europe, economics - subsidy, organisation - contracting, organisation - competition


Local bus, Deregulation, Welfare analysis


Local buses in Britain, outside London, were ‘deregulated’ as a result of the 1985 Transport Act, with most of the organisational changes implemented in 1986 but many of the ownership changes occurring over a longer period. By contrast, in London, the 1984 London Regional Transport Act introduced a system of comprehensive tendering – but it took 10 years for the organisational and ownership changes to be fully implemented. This paper examines the long term impacts of these changes. A key issue when examining long term changes is that of the counterfactual – what would have happened if the changes had not occurred? An econometric model of the demand for local bus services in Britain is outlined and used in conjunction with extrapolative methods for key variables such as fares and bus kms to determine demand-side counterfactuals. Some analyses of subsidy and of costs will also be outlined. This will then permit the examination of welfare change by estimating changes in consumer and producer surpluses, updating earlier studies. It is found that outside London, bus demand declined strongly, at least up to the year 2000 and some of this reduction can be ascribed to deregulation. By contrast in London, demand has generally been increasing. However, in both areas operating costs also declined strongly, again up to 2000, but since then there have been strong increases in costs and subsidy. Our initial finding is that there are net welfare increases both outside and inside London, but with welfare increases per capita being five times greater in London than elsewhere. However, sensitivity analysis shows that our results are sensitive to the specification of the modelling system and assumptions made concerning the counterfactual, particularly for the results for London.


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


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