Institutional analysis of urban public transport systems: the case of New York City UPT System and the NYC BRT

01 / 15 / 2014

Document: BRT CoE – Working Paper N°04 (13/01/2014): Institutional analysis of urban public transport systems the case of New York City UPT System and the NYC BRT

Urban public transport systems have been the centre of attention for the last decades, because of their significant impact on everyday life and activities, and consequently on the socio-economic development of the area they are serving. As a public good and as a means to achieve a number of strategic public policy objectives, public transport should perform well. However, in most of the public transit systems this is not achieved, resulting in the major reform wave that many mobility systems have undergone, in order to improve efficiency, promote competitive forces, enhance quality of services and achieve sustainability, provides evidence of various good and bad practice cases.

Research in this area has shown that interventions in the operational level of policy and decision-making are important but very often the overarching strategic and tactical structures are not aligned and this mismatch affects the long term performance of the system (Spandou and Macário, 2011). Thus, addressing the institutional design, especially in the context of New York City is a challenge and provides useful insights and lessons for the conditions and the drivers that help or obstruct a public transport system towards good performance.

The report is organized as follows. Section 2 presents a brief review of the theoretical body of literature on institutions and institutional analysis and Section 3 presents the methodological framework developed and employed. Section 4 provides a brief overview of the institutional profile of the USA and Section 5 presents the individual elements of the Metropolitan New York public transport institutional design. Section 6 presents performance from a funding/financing and expenses perspective and relevant discussion is framed by the supply and demand evolution. Section 7 provides an overview of the BRT history developed in New York City during the last five years. Section 8 presents the final conclusions and Appendices I – IV complement the information and data analysis.