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Chris Nash and Daniel Johnson

Public transport is widely seen as a solution to congestion, environmental and social problems; yet it is coming under pressure from new technologies, such as autonomous electric cars. So a key issue is to understand better the demand for public transport and the influence of factors which may change it, such as changing tastes, land use and the sharing economy. Of course, advances in public transport technology are also crucial. Further automation of operations, ticketing and information will open up new possibilities in terms of infrastructure capacity, pricing, service levels and quality of service. A second major area is efficiency of public transport supply. Even in bus transport, there remains no consensus on what this means in terms of the combination of competitive tendering, on road competition, regulation and negotiated quality contracts. For rail and light rail modes, the options are more complex, including whether infrastructure should be integrated with operations, contract length and asset ownership, all of which raise more issues in rail than bus because of longer asset life. Given severe public sector budget constraints, PPPs are an attractive option, but the record of success in rail is not strong, and other ways of financing public transport must also be examined, along with updated approaches to investment appraisal.

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Jed C. Macosko, A. Daniel Johnson and Sarah M. Yocum