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Workshop Paper / Transport

1st European Urban Transport Regulation Summary: Role, Functions and Status of Transport Authorities

Author(s): ROSA Andrea, HOLTERMAN Martin, FINGER Matthias

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The present document summarises the content of the presentations delivered during the forum as well as the ensuing discussion. This report is divided in two sections: summaries of the presentations and the synthesis of the debate.

Presentations were delivered by several urban transport regulation stakeholders, including transport authorities, operators, and academics. Each of them has offered his/her view on the role, the function and the status of transport authorities, on the basis of the following initial questions:

  • Who should perform the functions of planning, procuring and delivering urban transport in order to obtain the best possible results? 
  • What are/should be the exact role and functions of urban transport authorities, also in light of broader agglomerations’ transport? 
  • What is/should be the nature of contracts? Who is the regulator? 
  • What should be the relationship between transport authorities and political authorities?

A number of different distributions of responsibility were advocated, some of them on the basis of currently existing systems, others from a more – to quote one speaker – utopian point of view. In each case, though, it became clear that the answers to the questions posed were highly interconnected, with different models being feasible depending on the positions taken by the political authorities in charge. While one may favour a high degree of competition in the abstract, either through complete open access or through competitive tendering, a highly professional and knowledgeable transport authority will always be necessary.

Another question that received significant attention concerned the regulatory function, as distinct from the duties traditionally assigned to the transport authority. This function obviously needs to be fulfilled somehow, but does this mean that there needs to be a regulator? This function can be assigned to existing agencies in various ways, depending on one’s opinion of what the regulatory function should consist of.