Organisation and performance of public transport: A systematic cross-case comparison of metropolitan areas in Europe, Australia, and Canada

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, place - europe, place - north america, land use - planning, planning - integration, organisation - performance, organisation - governance


Metropolitan public transport, Public transport governance, Public transport performance, Fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA)


The paper investigates how the interplay between six organisational elements of public transport systems (conditions) – i.e. integration of planning responsibilities within an authority at the regional/metropolitan level; land-use and transport integration; long-term metropolitan public transport planning; agency over funding; fare integration, and allocation of risks between government and operators - influence two key performance indicators (outcomes) – modal split and cost-recovery. The study focuses on selected metropolitan areas in Europe, Australia, and Canada, and employs Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). QCA can handle multiple explanatory conditions in combination, framing the relationship between conditions and studied outcomes in terms of necessity and sufficiency. The paper reveals three alternative combinations of organisational elements that are sufficient for achieving each outcome, underscoring that modal split and cost-recovery depend on the combined effects of multiple conditions (conjunctural causality), and that different paths can lead to similar results (equifinality). Furthermore, even though both outcomes are linked to higher usage of public transport, findings suggest that each of them might require decision-makers to give attention to different elements. Higher modal split is closely linked to both integration between land-use and transport, and the integration of planning responsibilities within an authority at the regional/metropolitan level. Higher cost-recovery, in turn, requires focus on the way agency over funding and risk allocation strategies shape incentives for savings and/or revenue generation.


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


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