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Bus Competition in Ireland: Delayed by Regulatory Roadblocks

Patrick Massey ()

Economic Affairs, 2014, vol. 34, issue 3, 319-334

Abstract: Competition in local bus services in Ireland has been prohibited for more than 80 years, with the majority of services operated by state-owned monopolies. The Public Transport Regulation Act 2009 seemed to herald a radical departure. It established a new transport regulator and provided that, after an initial five-year period, routes would be opened up to competitive tendering unless an extension of the incumbents' monopoly rights was necessary to guarantee continuity of services. Yet in December 2013 the regulator decided to extend the state bus companies' monopolies on the vast majority of their routes until the end of 2019. This paper argues that there is no economic evidence to support this decision, which is reminiscent of the previous policy approach of protecting the state companies and raises concerns of possible regulatory capture. The paper calls for the phased introduction of competitive tendering of all routes currently operated by the state bus companies as quickly as possible.

Date: 2014
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