Market initiative regimes in public transport in Europe: Recent developments

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, policy - fares


Deregulation, Market initiative, Europe, Public transport


The role played by market initiative regimes in public transport in Europe is growing. Initially limited to Great Britain outside London (1986), a watered down version was implemented in Sweden in 2012, while the 2013 German public transport law allows increasing the role of ‘commercial’ market initiative. Long-distance coach markets was already based on deregulated regimes in Britain, Norway, Sweden and various Central and Eastern European countries, while Germany deregulated this market in 2013 and Italy soon opens up its market as well. Finally, open access competition on the tracks exists in Germany, Sweden, Austria, Italy and the Czech republic, with spectacular results in at least Italy, while the European Commission is pushing for more. This paper reviews these developments, while comparing some of the regulatory features implemented. It confirms a movement away from dogmatism in some countries but it also finds that insufficient attention is being paid to developing adequate regulation for the functioning of market initiative regimes (the ‘rules of the game’), especially concerning the issue of fare integration, hampering the potential success of the reforms.


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


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