Local public transport: service quality and tendering contracts

Public transport is of extreme relevance for ensuring a sustainable modal distribution in urban areas across the globe (Hensher 2007). Local Public Transport (LPT) policies generally promote collective sustainable mobility in metropolitan areas encouraging travellers to give up mobility with their private vehicle. In recent times much attention has been placed on the quality of LPT services. A gradual loss of LPT market shares, especially in urban centres, is due to its specific characteristics such as low frequencies in certain areas/hours, lack of flexibility, privacy and inconvenience. These LPT features reduce its capability to respond quickly to the changing market needs. As a response to some of these deficiencies, the last two decades have seen public transport industry involved in a process of competitive regulation, economic deregulation and privatization. Tendering contracts (TC) have emerged as the preferred policy tool. Their aim was to achieve cost efficiency and cost effectiveness to identify the mix of inputs used to produce a given level of output at the lowest cost. Service quality control in TC’s is a way to ensure both cost savings as well as a predetermined service quality level for consumers. This paper highlights the importance of service quality control in the LPT industry. In particular, we illustrate a method to measuring service quality taking a consumers’ perspective into account. Finally, we study the relevance of including service quality control systems into TC’s. The paper is organized as follows. We begin with a historical overview of quality in the LPT sector, with attention to the role given to service quality provision by legislators. After over viewing the evolution of quality, we focus on different methods employed to measure service quality, in particular the Stated Preference (SP) approach. Moreover, we point to the importance of including contractual controls of the service quality levels in TC’s. In the third section we overview empirical studies analyzing service quality using discrete choice models. A discussion section concludes.

Valeri E., Stathopoulos A., Marcucci E., Gatta V. (2012), “Local public transport: service quality and tendering contracts”, in Venezia E. (Editor), “Urban sustainable mobility”, p.161-172, MILANO:FrancoAngeli

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