Traffic safety in bus transport: An analysis of Norway’s largest transit authority’s contract requirements to bus companies

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, mode - bus, planning - safety/accidents, planning - surveys, planning - methods, organisation - contracting, operations - capacity, operations - reliability, infrastructure - vehicle, land use - impacts, ridership - drivers, ridership - behaviour


Traffic safety, Bus, Norway


The main objective of the study is to evaluate direct and indirect traffic safety consequences of the requirements that Norway’s largest transit authority (Ruter) sets in the contracts with bus companies. To assess the representativity of Ruter’s requirements and its consequences, the data focuses both on Ruter and transit authorities from other areas in Norway, serving a mix of urban and rural areas. The study is based on qualitative interviews (N = 18), a workshop, reviews of documents and a quantitative survey (N = 1012). The study indicates that transit authorities may have direct influence on traffic safety, especially if they set requirements that exceeds (inter) national legislation. Ruter does that when it comes to driver collision protection and blind zone warning systems. We also find indications of indirect impact on traffic safety through the contracts. This is firstly related to the requirements for punctuality and regularity, which we find to be related to drivers’ stress, driving style and accident involvement in our quantitative analysis. It is secondly related to environmental concerns, which motivate maintaining (and increasing) a high level of passengers. Interviewees said that this influences the types of buses specified in contracts (e.g. large high capacity buses), and their routes (e.g. in narrow streets, “where people live”). They also emphasized that roads and infrastructure, for example in Oslo, are poorly adapted to bus transport. In our quantitative analysis, we found that buses that are poorly adapted to the roads they are used on, and roads that are poorly adapted to bus transport were related to bus drivers’ reported stress and time pressure, which were related to risky driving style, which in turn was related to accidents. Based on the study, we developed several policy implications, that we believe also can be relevant for, and inspire other transit authorities. Ruter has applied several of these changes after our study (e.g. requiring ISO:39001 certification from the bus operators in the contracts, starting to develop a system to learn from accidents), and may thus stand out as a transit authority that other may learn from when it comes to management of traffic safety.


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


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