Developing a regional superbus concept – Collaboration challenges

Fredrik Pettersson, Case Studies on Transport Policy, Available online 31 January 2018
The 2014 Swedish National infrastructure plan allocated funds to implement a “Regional Superbus concept”. The concept involves the upgrading a number of existing regional express bus services to make them function as an alternative to investing in regional rail. The Regional superbus concept is an attempt to adapt the BRT planning philosophy to the regional scale and the context of the region it serves. The concept was developed by a constellation of representatives of different public organisations in the Skåne region and the process required collaboration to handle a number of critical challenges. The aim of the study is to examine how collaboration worked in the concept development phase, and identfiy lessons for implementing the concept elsewhere. An interview study with key actors is analysed with a theoretical framework on collaborative governance. The results identifies a number of challenges such as: formal planning system characteristics earmarking money for specific organizational budgets; the closed concept development process in order to reach consensus in the concept development group; the lack of “best practice” experiences and reaching agreement about problem definitions. Lessons for future implementation includes: ensure an open and transparent process involving public participation; the need for an understanding of the effects of different aspects of the concept; the importance of working with all aspects of the concept and to be aware that key elements of the concept aimed to improve travel time and comfort require controversial decisions concerning e.g. bus stop removal and unconventional bus priority measures.
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