Benchmarking Municipal Public Transport Operators in the Netherlands

Benchmarking Municipal Public Transport Operators in the Netherlands


E Trel, inno-V, NL; D van de Velde, TU Delft and inno-V, NL


This paper benchmarks municipal public transport operators in the Netherlands. It covers institutional steps, organisational reforms and compares production costs. An indication of remaining potentials for performance improvement is given.


This paper presents the results of a study conducted to benchmark the performances of the municipally-owned public transport operators of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague in the Netherlands. The study, commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Transport, compares the performances of the operators and their steps towards more ?market conformity?. It was realised in close cooperation with the involved passenger transport authorities and transport operators who delivered the necessary data. It is the first time that such an extensive cost comparison between municipal operators has been made.

In a qualitative section, the study presents the institutional steps and organisational reforms that operators and authorities have taken between 2000 and 2006 to realise ?at arm?s length? relationships and to reach more ?market conformity? (defined as reaching a price and quality level similar to what could be reached under competitive tendering). In a quantitative section, the study compares the production costs per timetable-hour (operational costs, excluding infrastructure management) of each transport operator at the level of single transport modes (bus, tram or metro). Comparisons are also made with the regional bus sector that has already been submitted to competitive tendering. All results are presented in the form of index figures as operators were reluctant to hand over sensitive business information in the light of possible future tendering of their concessions. This guarantees the secrecy of the source information.

A method based on relative best practices is also developed to produce a benchmark, giving for each city an indication of the remaining potential for performance improvement. The extensive qualitative analysis is used as background for an in-depth interpretation of the quantitative results such as to avoid simplistic conclusions based on a ?school marks? approach.

Important conclusions of the study are that the operators have already realised cost savings in the magnitude of 10-15% since 2000 and that important steps clarifying the relationship between authority and operator have been set during this period. The study also concludes that regional bus operators, that have been submitted to competitive tendering in the same period, have set more substantial steps, which lead to a widening performance gap with the municipal operators. The study also shows that performance differences between cities are partially due to decisions taken by the transport authorities, and that these also led to cost increases (such as specific measures to improve passenger safety on board).


Association for European Transport