The role of meta-governance in public transport systems: A comparison of major urban regions in Denmark and England

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, organisation - governance


Meta-governance, Meta-governor, Governance network, Public transport


The governance of public transport is experiencing growing interest as a field of research. Collaboration, contracts, ownership are among the concepts applied in the literature. Outside the specific field of public transport, the term meta-governance and meta-governors - referring to actors and activities that aim to govern and guide a network - has gained increased attention. The point of departure for this article is to study if and to what extent the concept of meta-governance can contribute additional insight to the study of public transport governance, if signs of meta-governance in public transport can be observed in two cases included in the study, and finally, what the nature is of the networks within which it takes place. The cases are the Copenhagen Region, Denmark, and the West Midlands Region, England. In both cases there are signs of meta-governance. It is not clear whether it has increased in scale or level of activity over recent years, but it is likely to increase in the future. The core meta-governor identified in both cases is the passenger transport authority, although in the Danish case there are more actors of almost similar significance and governing capability. We conclude that the meta-governance concept adds to other concepts used in analyses of public transport governance by including more instruments of governance, bringing to the fore the need of a core, nodal actor, and by stressing furthermore the autonomy but also interdependence of other actors in the network.


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


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