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Privatisation and Regulation of Urban Transit Systems

Roundtable 141

Urban public transport services generally run at a large deficit. This has led public authorities to seek efficiencies, notably through private sector involvement. Private entry is complicated by the essential network characteristics of public transport, with parts of the network potentially profitable and others perennially unprofitable.  

Support for the sector traditionally seeks to provide basic mobility services to all segments of society, including low-income users. Intervention is also required to manage the natural tendency towards concentration and market power in the provision of these transport services. Policy towards urban public transport is increasingly aimed at managing congestion on the roads and mitigating CO2 emissions by substituting for travel by car. The sprawl of cities complicates the regulatory environment as responsibilities tend to be split among different institutional levels.  

Achieving coherent transport networks that are efficient and financially sustainable is a challenge for any public authority. This Round Table examines experience in integrating private management and capital with public transport policy objectives in a number of developed economies.  For network operators, the Round Table concludes that innovation is the key to surviving the rapidly changing policy and regulatory environment

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