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Public Transport Market Organisation and Innovation Working Group

Reforming Public Transport Planning and Delivery

A wide range of public transport industry structures have emerged in different countries and cities over the past century. Approaches to planning, funding and operating public transport services range from nationalised government-run systems to models where private operators are free to enter the market. The past decade or two have seen much activity in reforming public transport industries across the world. Here, too, various types of reforms have been undertaken.

Despite this diversity, the objectives pursued and the challenges faced by governments and local authorities are broadly similar: In generally challenging contexts, all seek to find the best possible trade-off between the quality of public transport services and the cost. In urban areas especially, public transport providers have had to confront the twin threats of private cars and expanded, often low-density settlement patterns. The rapid spread of innovative transport technology and new business models also suggests that future challenges and opportunities may be somewhat similar across countries.

The diverse and numerous reform experiences make a comparative international examination feasible and potentially interesting for a broad range of countries. The International Transport Forum’s Working Group “Public Transport Market Organisation and Innovation” is exploring these issues. The Group comprises members from 10 ITF member countries and is chaired by Professor Hironori Kato of The University of Tokyo. The Working Group addresses the following research questions:

  • What kind of framework best describes the range of industry structures in urban and intercity public transport?
  • Can a common set of motivations for improving or changing industry structures be identified?
  • What reform options have been pursued in the past?
  • How have reforms and different models performed in the past?
  • Are there common lessons from past reforms and from alternative models?
  • What kinds of models will be most useful in tackling future challenges and opportunities?

Launched in 2015, the Working Group is scheduled to deliver its final report by mid-2020. The report is published in the ITF Research Report series

Input papers prepared by members of the Working Group covering a number of case studies are available below.

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