Bus transport in Greater Manchester: Sustainable Transport between Market, Hierarchy, and Network

Claus Hedegaard Sørensen, Henrik Gudmundsson

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch


    Introduction and aim During the past 15 – 20 years large parts of the public sector in the OECD countries but also outside the OECD have experienced so-called New Public Management (NPM) reforms. Not least the transport sector, and in particular public transport have been objects of these reforms. Important elements have been: Division of previously horizontal integrated organisations, corporatisation, privatisation, public-private partnerships, tendering and management by goals and results. The main purpose of the NPM reforms has been to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of public management. But taking a broader view on public transport policy, these are not the only things that matter. In our present work we are looking into the consequences of the NPM reforms in public transport for the realisation of Sustainable Transport objectives. Our basic assumption is that ‘organisation matters’ and that the reforms may have changed significantly the institutional conditions for the implementation of sustainable transport policies and easures. We have focused the research on public transport in larger cities and how their organisation has changed due to the reforms. At the NECTAR workshop we will present our findings from a study of Greater Manchester, and the preliminary conclusions we suggest to draw from it. Public transport can be important for achieving a more sustainable transport situation in several ways. We here focus on two, significant aspects: The first is the potential of public transport to attract travellers from more polluting modes (typically car); the second is the possibility of directly ‘greening’ the technologies and fuels used in public transport systems. We will also address two different components of the NPM inspired transport reforms in the UK. The first component regards the organisation of public bus transport at the local level. This involves the deregulation and privatisation reforms introduced by the Conservative Government from 1986 onwards, as well as the ‘partnerships’ and other new instruments introduced by the Labour Government in the Transport Act 2000, with the aim to modify some extreme effects of the initial deregulations. The second component includes reforms of how central government governs transport performance at the local level more generally through systems of Management by Objectives, performance control and economic incentives. Key elements here are national policies such as the ’10 year Plan for Transport’ with associated targets, and the ‘Local Transport Plan’ regime with annual funding settlements, etc. The objective of the work carried out is to analyse which conditions the reforms create for attracting travellers from cars and for greening the bus fleets and fuels. Methodology and work carried out The empirical material includes literature on the bus industry, NPM reforms, and governance structures at the local level in the United Kingdom, as well as policy documents and reports on these topics. Moreover, 13 qualitative research interviews have been carried out in autumn 2007. The interviews involved management and staff at the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, GMPTE (eight persons); Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority, GMPTA (one officer, one politician); as well as operators and an association of operators (three persons). A workshop was held in November 2007 in Manchester, where the authors discussed preliminary results from the analysis with representatives of GMPTE, GMPTA, bus operators and British research colleagues. Conclusions The following conclusions still are tentative, and will be elaborated by the time of the NECTAR workshop in May: • Deregulation and privatisation have not changed negative trends in modal split in Greater Manchester, but likely made it worse at least compared to London. • Deregulation and privatisation have worsened conditions for a greening of the bus fleets and fuels. • Some coordination and greening via tendering is possible in spite of the deregulated regime, but so far it has been applied to a limited degree in practice. • Voluntary partnerships within the deregulated regime have played a positive role, but have not led to significant trend breaks. • Improved chances of introducing statutory partnerships might work to achieve cooperation between authorities and operators. • The local political organisation and the relation between national and local government in England are important conditions to explain outcome. • The Management by Objectives regime installed via Local Transport Plans and associated funding schemes has improved the capacity to promote modal shift and greening of buses, but has not overcome the shortcomings introduced by deregulation and fragmentation. • Anyway: conditional funding schemes from central government seems to be a strong motivator for partnering, and potentially for promoting more sustainable transport solutions All in all, New Public Management in the UK (outside of London) has so far been mostly negative for the implementation of sustainable transport.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2009
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    EventTransition towards Sustainable Mobility: NECTAR Workshop - Rotterdam, Netherlands
    Duration: 15 May 200816 May 2008


    WorkshopTransition towards Sustainable Mobility: NECTAR Workshop


    • Bus transport
    • transport reforms
    • Manchester
    • Sustainable transport


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