Marknadsöppning – och sen?: Samhällsekonomisk analys av förutsättningarna för en stärkt kollektivtrafik

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Swedens market for public transport, both bus and rail, was opened for entry in January 2012. Any fit, willing and able operator is entitled to provide services on a commercial basis. During the first year after market opening, little has happened. The report concludes that it is not reasonable to expect much further entry. The reason is that a commercial entrant has to compete with the existing service provider who only charges the customers half the costs for running buses or trains. The rigidity of the current tendered system and the gross cost contracts used makes it relevant to consider alternatives to tendering. A comprehensive voucher approach – which inter alia is used in Sweden’s schooling system as well as in primary health care – would be one option. In this system, operators are given complete freedom to design routing, frequency, charges etc. The public sector intervenes by way of a subsidy per passenger, meaning that the (value of) demand from the perspective of an operator is higher than from the users’ point of view. The report makes a first analysis of this system in order to understand the incentives that this system design would create. The overall conclusion is that a broader study which in more detail is able to address issues which have not been handled in this very preliminary analysis should be commissioned. The natural next step, if a second desk study would point to a welfare enhancing potential of the system, would be to test the approach under controlled circumstances, for instance in one of the regions.

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