20 years of competitive tendering in the Norwegian bus industry – An analysis of bidders and winning bids

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

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


Bus, Competitive tender, Cost, Competition


Our paper investigates the developments in the Norwegian bus industry following the ramp-up of competitive tendering since the early 2000s. We analyse a complete dataset of all 232 local bus contracts awarded through competitive tendering in Norway since 1995. We also utilize the Central Register of Establishments and Enterprises (CRE) for structural developments in the bus industry.

We first present some overall tendencies, including developments in number of bids per tender, contract size and cost developments. We use the cost implied by the winning bid as our cost indicator. The average cost per kilometre in the winning bid has increased substantially more than the general rate of inflation. At the same time, the average number of bidders per contract has fallen. Second, we build regression models to identify key drivers of cost developments in the bids. Contract sizes, in terms of vehicle-kilometres are found on average to be on the low side and an increase would reduce unit prices. We find as expected a significant effect of the number of bidders on unit prices. This leads us to a further investigation of factors explaining the number of bids per tender. We find that larger contracts tend to attract more bids, as do repeated tenders in the same area.


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


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