Use of public transport as a means to reach national climate objectives - On the importance of accounting for spatial differences and costs

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, mode - bus, planning - environmental impact, land use - impacts, land use - urban density, policy - environment


Environmental policy, Economic efficiency, Spatial differences, Public transport costs, Sparsely populated áreas


Sweden has since the end of the 1990s, when the environmental objective system was adopted, had the ambition of being an environmental frontrunner. In line with this, in 2009 the Parliament adopted the goal of achieving a fossil free vehicle fleet in 2030. Replacing private car use with public transport is expected to contribute to this goal. In 2008, a co-operation between actors in the public transport sector was launched with support from the Government with the aim to double its use. Sweden however is a country with important geographical differences. Much of the country is sparsely populated, especially in the north. From previous research it is well known that usage of public transport is dependent on population density and accessibility to employment and schools. Understanding how spatial differences influence the cost of public transport provision is therefore crucial when discussing if public transport is a cost-efficient way to achieve national goals for the transport sector. In this paper, Swedish county level panel data, including variables that provide information on geographical differences between the counties, have been used to estimate average marginal costs of boardings. Results show that these are much lower in the three counties with the largest urbanized areas. In the other counties there is a variation which illustrates that there are a number of factors that influence the average marginal costs. In relation to policy, we find that the doubling ambition established in 2008 has not been achieved.


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


Transport Policy Home Page: