The efficiency of public transport operations – An evaluation using stochastic frontier analysis


Johan Holmgren

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

economics - appraisal/evaluation, place - europe, economics - capital costs, economics - finance, economics - subsidy


Public transport, Cost, Stochastic frontier, Efficiency


The aim of this study is to evaluate the efficiency of public transport operations undertaken in Swedish counties by the Public Transport Authorities (PTA), taking into account the substantial differences in operating conditions between counties. The analysis will be performed using Stochastic Frontier Analysis (SFA) with annual data from 1986 to 2009 for 26 Swedish counties. The analysis shows how the efficiency of the individual counties has changed over time. The results are used to provide a ranking (in terms of efficiency) of the Swedish public transport authorities that can provide a basis for benchmarking. It is concluded that the efficiency of the public transport providers in all counties fell during the observed time period. Defining cost efficiency as the ratio of minimum cost to observed cost, the overall (average) cost efficiency for the industry fell from 85.7% in the eighties to 60.4% for the period from 2000 to 2009. Possible explanations for the development include increased emphasis on route density as well as higher environmental and safety requirements.


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


Research in Transportation Economics Home Page: