Technical characteristics and efficiency of urban bus companies: The case of Spain

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The aim of the present study is twofold. First, to provide new information concerning the technical characteristics of urban bus companies on the basis of a sample of medium and large-size cities in Spain. Second, to analyze the degree of efficiency of those companies and to quantify the reasons for this efficiency. The results should be useful in evaluating possible changes in public policies relating to urban transport, specifically changes in the way the market is organized and in pricing. The analysis is carried out by estimating a cost function. The sample is made up of a panel data set consisting of observations of nine Spanish companies that operated during the period 1983-1995. The specified functional form is translogarithmic. The output unit of measure adopted is bus*kms run. The cost function includes the network length for each company, thus permitting evidence concerning economies of density and economies of scale. The use of panel data allows us to estimate the cost function, taking into account that each company is affected by the specific characteristics of each individual city, the different features of the network in question and by different levels of efficiency. The economies of scale have been calculated, taking into account that the features of the network and of the city - represented by their specific individual effect - will vary with the company's level of output. Finally, an analysis is made of the relative productive efficiency of the companies, as well as of the variables likely to influence that efficiency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-263
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 1998


  • Cost function
  • Efficiency
  • Panel data
  • Urban transport

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