A multi-level governance response to the Covid-19 crisis in public transport

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, organisation - governance, organisation - structures


Covid-19, Multi-level governance, Informal governance, Decision-making, State-aid, Financial crisis


This paper examines the Dutch policy reaction to the financial crisis in the public transport sector caused by Covid-19. Using the multi-level governance theory complemented with the notion of informal governance, the analysis explains the decision-making that defined a State-aid scheme to public transport operators following a process of consultation and concertation between state and non-state actors across governance tiers. To agree on a financial rescue package, these actors engage in front-stage and back-stage political interactions, constrained and enabled by formal and informal governance structures and practices. By analyzing how the interplay between the political mobilization of actors, policy-making arrangements, and existing polity structures shapes political alignment around the financial support scheme, the paper concludes that the crisis did not change customary governance and policy-making practices. Stakeholders sought their usual partners and followed existing routines in path-dependent ways to address the policy challenge brought by Covid-19. Despite being triggered by a major exogenous shock, the policy response to the crisis was driven mainly by endogenous forces; the decision-making mechanism remained the same and the network of actors did not shrink or expand.


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


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