Differences in Control and Regulatory Structures of Public Transport within the United Kingdom and Ireland: Implications for Quality and Effectiveness of Service Delivery

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, mode - bus, mode - rail, planning - service level, operations - performance, organisation - regulation, ridership - perceptions


public transport, market liberalization, funding


Regulation and control of public transport is the subject of continuing debate in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In Great Britain, e.g., this stems from dissatisfaction with market liberalization. Elsewhere the concerns stem from pressures to liberalize the market and funding constraints. Such concerns and calls for further reform pose questions about the relative effectiveness of greater or reduced state involvement in public transport. This paper reviews evidence on the performance of public transport operators under a variety of control and regulations informed by benchmarking alternatives as well as funding under different regulatory systems. Various secondary data sources informed development of performance indicators for both bus and rail including level of service (vehicle kilometers) by per capita population, by region, population size, and population density; quality of service by fares and level of comfort; passenger satisfaction by operator across a suite of level of service parameters; and passengers per capita population, region, population size, and population density. This paper provides a commentary on the relative performances of the different types of public transport operator and informs an understanding of possible reasons for variations in performance under differing regulatory and control “models.”


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