Contracting out public transit services: an incentive performance-based approach

João Pinto, Mário C. Santos, Pedro Verga Matos

Research output: Working paper



The literature on public transit services contracting, emphasizes the need of efficient contracting designs to promote parties’ interest alignment. There is, however, limited research addressing specific incentive mechanisms. The paper contributes to that literature by developing a performance-based model with an embedded incentive bonus/malus (B/M) mechanism for contracting out transit services. Monte Carlo simulation documents that model’s performance appears sensitive to stochastic specification of some of the B/M drivers, and responsive to changes in the contractual performance factors out of the sub-concessionaire’s control. Evidence on the operation of a light-rail transit system designed based on a version of the model, document that it may contribute to promote ridership patronage, increase the average ride, and ultimately promote the economic operating efficiency of the system. Some policy implications are drawn, namely in terms of public funds allocative efficiency, and promotion of social welfare in contracting transit services.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2021

Publication series

NameSSRN - Social Sciences Research Network


  • Public transportation
  • Privatization
  • Performance-based contracting
  • Bonus/malus mechanism


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