Apply a management structure that fits the local conditions and the respective national framework. Clearly assign or split the tasks and duties to either the authority level or bus operator’s level.
The management structure of a public transport company often has the following general scheme:
Group work council (= representation of employees),
Central departments for:
Human resource management / payroll accounts and financial accounts
Traffic planning / timetabling
Operations / operation control
Purchasing, maintaining / repair and managing of the fleet
Often, there are additional management positions with special duties such as a concession manager (e.g. The Netherlands) or quality co-ordinators (e.g. in Slovenia).
In some countries the responsibilities for public transport are split between a public authority and the operator(s). Public transport authorities are politically and financially responsible for local public transport, while operators provide the service (e.g. based on contractual agreements). It depends on the national legal framework or the approach of the public transport authority as to what extent tasks are on the operator’s side and which are performed by the public transport authority (e.g. tariff development, fare level changes, information provision to customers, timetabling).
In smaller cities, the urban bus network is often provided as part of a bigger operating area, or the city is operating the service itself. In both cases, the implementation of a small management unit at a local level which is in charge of operations, planning, and marketing (an urban bus manager) seems to be advantageous in order to meet local prerequisites. Additionally, the duty of the management unit is to communicate with decision-makers and other stakeholders to ensure local identification with the urban bus service. The provision of the services (drivers and vehicles) is either provided by a major bus operator or contracted to bus companies which perform the human resources management for drivers and the fleet management.
There might be a contradiction between goals of the municipality / public transport authority (maximum possible quality of service) and the operator’s goals (high efficiency of the service). The organisational framework and the contract design have to ensure that the principles of high-quality public transport services are not affected by these contrary positions.
If the organisational framework involves the interplay between a public transport authority and operator(s), a clear split of competencies and responsibilities is needed. The interfaces between fields of work have to be agreed on in order to avoid overlaps or even gaps in service provision.
Almere (The Netherlands): The bus operator Connexxion which operates the urban bus network ‘MAXX’ in Almere has appointed a concession manager as a kind of product manager for each of its concession areas. The concession manager is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the service within the local concession area. Furthermore, the concession manager is the first contact person for consultation between the regional public transport authority (province) or the respective municipality and the operator. The province itself has usually appointed concession managers at the public transport authority level performing the respective tasks on the administrative side (e.g. monitoring the performance of the operators, providing policy advice, serving as the contact person for both the municipality as well as the operator).
Brighton & Hove (UK): The city has a strong and long-standing (but informal) quality partnership between the local authority and the operator. This has resulted in progressive investment and performance achievements over time.
Elbląg (Poland): Elbląg’s policy quite strongly favours the development of public transport. There is good co-operation and a clear split of responsibilities between the Public Transport Office of Elblag (responsible for organisational aspects, timetable planning, monitoring issues, maintenance of bus stops) and the 4 public transport operators running the bus services.
Euskirchen (Germany): Euskirchen (about 56,000 inhabitants) has a municipally-owned public transport company which is led by an urban bus manager. The company provides the management of the urban bus service in Euskirchen and bears the commercial responsibility for the supply; however, the bus service itself (vehicles, drivers) is delivered by bus operators on a contractual basis.
Rheine (Germany): Behind the “urban bus Rheine” there are actually three companies: (1) The municipally-owned “Transport company Rheine” fixes the level of service and pays for uncovered costs, (2) the publicly-owned regional public transport company serves as the provider of overheads such as timetable planning and the ticketing facilities, (3) a private bus operator runs the buses (drivers, vehicles).