The objective of this paper is to examine Barcelona’s transportation system taking into account the reform in its governance and regulation. Reforms of this kind have not been applied in other large cities and have not been analyzed so far in the literature. This study explores the main features of the city’s regulatory regime: the coexistence of public and private firms, the competitive tendering process, and the incentive regulation applied to concessionaires. It provides a thorough analysis of a regulatory system applied in a large metropolitan area.
The study expands on the literature on partial privatization, which suggests that the mixed Public-private provision of bus services may reduce scale economies but helps to discipline operators. The presence of a public operator gives the regulator information about costs and demands that is useful for overseeing private operators, and may also help to protect passengers’ interests in areas with thin demand. By contrast, private firms are useful to identify the inefficiencies of public firms and to moderate the demands of public employees. The study presents and discusses the management strategy applied by EMT to the Barcelona transportation system. The main shortcoming of the approach is that TMB retains a great deal of autonomy with regard to EMT, which makes the regulation of the public firm difficult. In spite of this, EMT has been quite effective in increasing competition for the market and in promoting the efficiency of private operators. The progressive elimination of entry barriers in the tendering process has made the market more competitive and has allowed more firms to participate.