Seminar: Transit Regulation and Privatization: The European Experience

A Rudin Center Visiting Scholar Seminar by Dr. Matthew G. Karlaftis, National Technical University of Athens

The past few decades have seen transit patronage decrease in all Western countries, including Europe and the United States, lagging far behind the substantial growth in mobility that has occurred during the same period. This is in part due to rising levels of real income and the decreasing relative costs of private travel. As well as, large budgetary deficits faced by many countries in recent years necessitating fiscal constraints that have led to a significant reduction in transit subsidization. In an effort to address operational shortcomings and reduce operating deficits, and increase productivity the public transit sector has been moving – in many European countries – away from public ownership and operation and towards private sector participation.

In this presentation, Dr. Karlaftis will discuss three parameters in the transit privatization debate:

  • Financial constraints, including budget cuts for transit subsidies, justification for subsidization, and possible solutions.
  • Empirical findings from 38 European transit systems over a 15 year period on whether privatization improves transit efficiency.
  • Other factors influencing privatization’s effects on efficiency, including market structure and competition, and contract development and tendering systems.

Matthew G. Karlaftis, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the Department of Transportation Planning and Engineering of the School of Civil Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Greece, in the field of Transportation Systems and Public Transportation. He has civil engineering diplomas from the University of Miami (1993 and 1994) an MS in applied mathematics (1994) from the University of Miami and a Ph.D. (1996) in Civil Engineering from Purdue University.

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