Two groups representing the interests of some of the main public transport operating companies active in Europe adopted positions on the draft new regulation on public service requirements in the field of public transport.
In its position statement, the group of the European Multi-National Operating Companies, which brings together Alsa, Arriva, Concordia, Connex, FirstGroup, Keolis, National Express and Transdev, expresses the opinion that a competitive environment is a natural incentive for public transport service suppliers to be market-driven and customer-focussed, bringing innovations and a higher productivity to the sector, and at a lower cost to public finances.
That’s why these companies ask for the regulation to be refocused on the principle of regulated competition and oppose the modal exceptions from competition proposed by the European Commission, since such frameworks could lead to the disintegration of public transport systems.
Concerning companies owned by authorities and direct operation of services by authorities, the multi-national operators acknowledge the need for an exemption from competition for a limited period of time.
Contrary to this, the group of public transport undertakings of major metropolises, which brings together TMB, CARRIS, ATAC, OASA, RET, STIB, RATP, Wiener Linien, TfL and BVG, asks for the possibility to keep public “reference” operators owned by authorities.
This shall enable authorities to ensure that affordable services are provided whatever the state of the market and provide a realistic threat when inviting tenders, thus discouraging abusive prices and provide a benchmark from which to assess the cost-effectiveness of other bids.
The group of public undertakings considers that direct operation is an appropriate method for operating transport networks provided that guarantees are in place regarding the transparent and efficient use of public subsidies, that is to say provided that direct operation is challenged.
Lastly, the companies insist that the move from “direct control + challenge” to delegation of service through tendering procedures must be reversible.