International Handbook of Network Industries
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International Handbook of Network Industries

The Liberalization of Infrastructure

Edited by Matthias Finger and Rolf W. Künneke

This extensive, state-of-the-art Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of the various experiences of liberalization across different sectors, regions and disciplines.
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Chapter 16: Public Transport Liberalization: Achievements and Future Directions

John Stanley


John Stanley INTRODUCTION The provision of public transport services in many developed economies has undergone substantial change over the years. With bus services, for example, from an initial situation of private sector provision until about the 1970s, as is still common among developing economies, public sector monopolies became the norm. From the mid-1980s, however, there has been a substantial swing back to private sector service provision, albeit that the enthusiasm that initially accompanied this swing is now eroding somewhat and public provision remains the norm. Changes in ownership have been so widespread internationally, and their impacts of such interest among public transport stakeholders, that an ongoing international conference has emerged to continually review progress, problems and achievements and suggest directions for improvement. This is the Thredbo Conference series, Competition and Ownership in Land Passenger Transport, which has been held every second year for the past two decades.1 This conference series and the ongoing research by international bodies such as the Brussels-based International Association of Public Transport (UITP), means that there is a vast array of material reviewing the field. This chapter draws on that material and on the author’s own experience at the front line in negotiating bus service levels and associated service contracts in Melbourne, Australia, and as a director of Melbourne’s operator-owned and managed public transport marketing company, Metlink. The presentation is necessarily summary but many references are provided to allow the interested reader to pursue further information. The chapter starts by providing an overview of the argument...

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