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Public transit performance: What do we learn from frontier studies?


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  • DE BORGER, Bruno
  • KERSTENS, Kristiaan
  • COSTA, Álvaro


This article provides a comprehensive survey of the literature on production and cost frontiers for public transit operators, and it evaluates the contributions of frontier analysis to our understanding of the performance of the public transport sector. We first succinctly contrast best practice (or frontier) and average practice specifications of technology. We also review a number of relevant performance indicators and the methods to measure them. Next, the existing frontier studies measuring urban transit performance are systematically summarised and critically assessed. It is shown that the organisation of the market, contract design, the degree and nature of the regulatory regime, and the characteristics of the network being served are all important determinants of inefficiency. However, although the frontier literature has substantially contributed to the knowledge of urban transit technologies and the determinants of performance, it is found that many important issues remain unresolved.

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Paper provided by University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2000019.

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Length: 52 pages
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Handle: RePEc:ant:wpaper:2000019

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