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Bus Franchising in English and Scottish regions – viable solution or unfeasible instrument?

Villa i Aguilar, Xavier; Rye, Tom; McTigue, Clare; Cowie, Jonathan


Xavier Villa i Aguilar

Tom Rye


Much research surrounds the move from publicly owned and operated bus markets to publicly controlled and privately operated markets, or in the case of Great Britain, a fully deregulated market. Little research however exists concerning the counter move and the issues that this may raise. Such a step would be consistent with Gwilliam’s regulatory cycle, which suggests that a combination of self seeking behaviour of suppliers and unrealistic aspirations of politicians leads to instability in the regulatory arrangements for the provision of bus services. Consequently, the associated structural and institutional arrangements go through a cycle of private/public ownership and competitive/regulated markets.
The paper discusses some of the practicalities at the regional level of introducing the measures provided by the Bus Services Act 2017 in England and the Transport Act 2019 in Scotland, both of which offer the option of a partial or full economic reregulation of bus services. Theories of radical policy change are examined and applied in the context of the issue through interviews with key informants in regional authorities in Scotland and England. The overriding conclusion from this analysis is that whilst deregulating the market does not actually break Gwilliam’s regulatory cycle, it makes it very difficult to ‘re-connect’, and thus a further long term consequence of bus deregulation in Britain in the mid 1980s is that future policy options may have been severely restricted in the very long term.


Villa i Aguilar, X., Rye, T., McTigue, C., & Cowie, J. (2022). Bus Franchising in English and Scottish regions – viable solution or unfeasible instrument?. Transport Policy, 120, 1-10.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 21, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 28, 2022
Publication Date 2022-05
Deposit Date Feb 21, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 1, 2023
Journal Transport Policy
Print ISSN 0967-070X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 120
Pages 1-10
Keywords bus re-regulation; incremental and radical policy change; regulatory cycle; bus economics
Public URL


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