Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

policy - sustainable, place - europe, place - urban, mode - bus


Urban areas, Under developed countries, Trend (Statistics), Third world, Sustainable development, Sustainability, Soviet Union (Former), Procurement, Market structure, Less developed countries, Intracity bus transportation, Former Soviet Union, Europe, Developing countries, Competitive bidding, Bus transit, Australia


In urban areas worldwide, fundamental changes are taking place in participation of the public sector in planning, direct provision, and financing of urban bus services. Trends have emerged toward separating roles in transit planning and operation, opening markets to the private sector through direct entry or tendering, and establishing ways for the private sector to innovate in market development. Although in some cases these changes parallel U.S. practices in contracting out services, the international trends often radically alter both the balance of the initiative between the public authority and the operator, and participation in the market. These changes in turn require a fresh look at the functions and organization of a transport authority, so that it can effectively meet these new challenges. First, these trends and the underlying motivations in Europe, the former Soviet Union, Australia, and developing countries were reviewed. Second, competitive tendering in procuring urban bus services in a diverse set of selected locations was examined, taking into account the differences in both purpose and practice. Third, what the authority is trying to achieve and the functions it needs to assure were considered, along with the sustainability of the competitive tendering process. Unlike the typical U.S. experience in which the structure remains essentially unchanged, the Eurasian and Southern Hemisphere experiences typically involve fundamental changes to the system that have substantial transition costs and are not easily reversed. If either the process or the benefits are not sustainable, the implications are severe. Tender prices on re-bid, labor and human issues, and network design are suggested as key issues.