This paper analyzes how public transport planning is managed in institutional contexts where governance is spread across local and regional scales. The paper sheds light on two facets of the relationship between local and regional government: first, the decision-making process regarding where to provide public transport services and at what level, and second, integration of public transport with land use planning. An analytical matrix is used to cross-reference the roles of formal institutions (governance established in law) and informal institutions (governance not established in law) against local and regional responsibilities for public transport and land use.
Analysis of the interplay between these three axes (formal/informal, local/regional, public transport/land use) reveals how informal institutions help regional and local authorities to negotiate the constraints of formal, statutory institutions and help to “oil the wheels” of delivering measures and policies that make public transport work as a well-functioning system. However, informal institutions clearly have their limits, in the paper exemplified by the remaining challenges to integrate regional public transport and local land use planning. An identified challenge is that, by their very nature, informal institutions are difficult to influence or modify, therefore relying on them to fill gaps in formal institutional responsibilities may be a risky strategy when unpopular decisions are made.