Public Transport – Public?

So the EU is bringing a lot of change to Europe besides the Euro,  even to Public Transportation; in fact is has already begun. Don’t quote me, but as I understand it, all and I mean ALL public transit operations contracts are to be competitively bid in the future. Even at the national level, there will no longer be national railway companies, at least not for long. The Italian law consenting to the EU “decree” was passed in 2001. It will take awhile to implement, obviously, but the first step is breaking out the many functions of these agencies. The former Italian national railway is now four different companies. Pretty soon the process will be to contract work out, essentially using RFPs and bids.

In Torino, I have just found out,  the reason GTT was formed was to separate the planning  functions, which will remain with public agencies or consortiums thereof,  from the operations. The planning function is now performed by AMM, a new consortium of public agencies in Piemonte. GTT operates the buses trams, interurban and local trains. The employees  at the former transit agency now either work for the operator GTT or the planning agency AMM.  Right now GTT is publicly owned .i.e owned by the city of Torino, but I don’t know how long that will last).  I am still not sure who owns the rolling stock: the city or  GTT (who is owned by the City).

I was so pleased with the integrated fare structures of all the many types of transit, and the many types of passes.  Maybe there are EU laws or national laws  (or regional laws) that will ensure that this remains the case in the future.  I was assured that public subsidy of public transit was still going to be required in the future. So that is not the issue. It is due to the EU vision of equal access to all markets.

I wonder if that will or does apply to public utilities, like water, sewage treatment, electricity, garbage collection and other necessary public services?

In sum, the concept of “privatizing public transit” is taking me by surprise. But maybe there is a big difference between “privatizing” it and making it subject to competitive bidding.

I will also find out what is happening in Stuttgart and Germany. Will tell you more when I know more.

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One response to “Public Transport – Public?

  1. Interesting, I am usually very skeptical of privatizing a good that has a strong “public good” element, like public transit. The private market just can’t account for the positive externalities generated by the good, and as a result the service is undersupplied. But…like you say, this may not be “privatization” in the strict sense. Would like to learn more.

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