Contractual Relationships in France Between Public Transport Authorities and Operators
C Duchene, G.A.R.T., FR
The proposal of the European Commission for a Public service requirements in the field of passenger transport is in debate. So, it seems important to have a good knowledge of the reality of the organisation, especially the partnership between public transport authorities and operators. The proposal of Commission is very closed of the French situation when local authorities choose the way of the contract. This paper will present the French situation.
In France, the law recognises the public-service aspect of public transport, and entrusts the responsibility for their organisation and financing to regional authorities. For operation of services, these authorities can either organise it under their own responsibility, on a project basis, or have recourse to delegation of public service to a company.
Competence for organisation of public transport comprises:
* The authority to create, to adapt or to discontinue the service (routes, stops, frequencies) which may comprise the construction of works (infrastructures, equipment) as required for operation of the service;
* The choice of the technical mode for execution of services;
* The choice of mode of management and the choice of operator (direct management on a "project" basis or management dedicated by contract to a company); * Definition of tariff and financing policy.
If the authority responsible for organising transport should decide to entrust management of services to a company, it will raise a fixed-duration agreement with the company, whose term will generally be from five to seven years for city transport. This agreement will in particular lay down the sharing of responsibilities, with particular reference to responsibility for investments, and the operating and commercial risks between the organising authority and the operator, together with the mode of remuneration of the operator.
In France, the organising authority -- not as a result of any obligation -- generally decides to entrust the operation of the entirety of its network to one single company, but that situation is in the process of developing.
In fact, the concentration of transport companies has markedly decreased competition; and recourse to several operators would enable competition to be made more active.
Furthermore, the organising authorities wish to be more active in their role and to exercise the function of "network management" to the full. This presupposes that they should have independent assessment capacities, but this is seldom the case in France.
The author proposes to develop these various aspects with regard to the European management project.
Association for European Transport