Costs in Swedish public transport: an analysis of cost drivers and cost efficiency in public transport contracts

During the last seven years, the total cost for Swedish public transport provision has increased by over 30 percent in real terms according to figures from the government agency Transport Analysis. A similar pattern is found if considering a longer time span. Part of the cost increase can be attributed to an increased supply, and part is due to price increases on input factors that are measured by an industry index produced by the public transport industry. The fact that about half of the costs in Swedish public transport are covered by public funds calls for responsibility in how these funds are used, and this means that information about cost drivers and cost efficiency is necessary. The lack of information about these factors in the Swedish public transport sector is the main motivation for the two papers included in this thesis. In this cover essay, the developments over the last decades in Swedish public transport are described, and there is a focus on the last ten years with the Doubling Project and the market in 2012. As mentioned, the costs as a whole, as well as per unit costs such as cost per vehicle kilometer, have increased in real terms since 2007. Even though parts of the cost increase can be attributed to an increased supply or the price of input factors, this development might be problematic for at least two reasons. First, the ambition of the industry to double the number of travelers by the year 2020 seems to have resulted in a supply increase around year 2010 and a similar increase in the number of boardings. However, the cost per vehicle kilometer and cost per boarding have both increased since then, which can bring into question whether the supply increases have been made at the right places and to the proper extent to have the desired effect on travel. Second, it is not clear whether a price increase for input factors can be viewed as an ''acceptable'' explanation for the cost increase. To the extent that the Public Transport Authority (PTA) or operator can affect the price of input factors such as buses (detailed or environmental requirements, etc.) or labor (demands on take-over of previous staff), an endogenous relationship is possible, which could disguise these potentially cost-driving factors as general price increases. At the end of this essay, a discussion about the lack of publicly available data highlights the non-compliance with EU regulations related to this. More data resources, perhaps with open access, would enable more comparisons between contractual forms, PTAs, and operators, which would provide examples of good and poor solutions and concepts in the industry and would have the potential to ensure better use of public funds.


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: 37
  • Serial:
    • Issue Number: 15:004
    • Publisher: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
    • ISSN: 1653-445X

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01631278
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)
  • Files: ITRD, VTI
  • Created Date: Mar 30 2017 12:15PM