Strategic governance and transition capacity in public transport

The project ”Strategic governance and transition capacity in public transport” included two PhD projects. The aim of the project was to study and evaluate policy instruments at the city and regional level which are used to strengthen the role of public transport and facilitate a transition to a low-carbon and energy efficient public transport.

The focus was on formal and informal policy instruments for technology development, increased use of renewable fuels and more effective planning. An important goal was to develop guidelines and policy recommendations for the design and implementation of policy instruments in Swedish cities and regions.

The project was a co-operation between Environmental and energy systems studies at Lunds University and the division Mobility, actors and planning processes at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI). The PhD candidates was also affiliated to K2, the Swedish centre for public transport research.

Project results

The aim of the project has been to analyse and evaluate informal and formal policy instruments to strengthen the role of public transport in the transport system and to contribute to a transition to a low carbon and efficient public transport. Two main aspects of the role of public transport have been studied. The first was about the transition from fossil to renewable fuels in the bus sector. The second was about the planning and development of public transport and which different planning ideals have been most visible.

In the first sub-project an analysis was made of the challenges and opportunities that regional actors face when they introduce renewable fuels in bus traffic. It was seen that there has been a transition in the bus traffic which today (2021) uses more than 90% renewable fuels. This transition has been done with the use of the tool green public procurement where the public transport authority puts requirements on the operators to use renewable fuels. Different types of requirements can be used in the procurement which gives different outcomes. Functional requirements on emission reductions or a certain share of renewables are more cost efficient and flexible but do not give control over which fuel is used. Specific requirements on a certain fuel comes with higher costs and is not recommended by the sector organisations, but has shown to be effective to introduce new fuels that lack existing infrastructure such as biogas and electric buses. Apart from green public procurement it is also necessary to use other measures such as infrastructure investments, test projects and cooperation between new actors, particularly when electric buses are introduced.

In the second sub-project the focus has been to in detial understand how planning of public transport has developed over time and what makes some planning rationalities dominant and what effects this has. The empirical focus has been public transport planning in Skåne between the year 1970 and 2020, and the specific question has been how and why transit corridors has developed to a dominating planning paradigm. In the beginning of the studied perios the role of public transport was seen as a complement to the car and much focus was on geographical and economic justice which motivated investments in the regional public transport systems. Gradually the focus shifted to that public transport should be more economically efficient, contribute to regional development and be an alternative to the car in relations with large travel basis. This shift has lead to investments in transit corridors while there have been cutbacks in weaker relations. The study shows that this development has not been evident but rather a result of conflicts between different actors where some municipalities have been against the cutbacks. During the studied period travels with public transport has increased a lot and public transport is today an important part of the transport system in Skåne. At the same time the underlying conflict between efficiency and accessibility has always been present and this is something future planning has to deal with, not least since increased climate policy ambitions most probably will make it more expensive to use the car meaning that people in small towns and rural areas will need good access to public transport.


Aldenius, M. (2021). Steering green buses. The opportunities and challenges of introducing renewable fuel in public transport. Ph D Thesis, Technology and Society, Lund University.

Aldenius, M. (2018). Influence of public bus transport organisation on the introduction of renewable fuel. Research in Transportation Economics, 69, 106– 115.  

Aldenius, M., Khan, J. (2020). Hållbar kollektivtrafikupphandling: Erfarenheter från forskningen. Energikontor Sydost och Lunds universitet.

Aldenius, M., Khan, J. (2017). Strategic use of green public procurement in the bus sector: Challenges and opportunities. Journal of Cleaner Production, 164, 250–257. 

Aldenius, M., Tsaxiri, P., Lidestam, H. (2021a). The role of environmental requirements in Swedish public procurement of bus transports. International Journal of Sustainable Transport. 

Aldenius, M., Mullen, C., Pettersson-Löfstedt, P. (2021b). Electric buses in England and Sweden – a multi-actor perspective on overcoming barriers to introduction. Manuscript submitted to Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment.

Aldenius, M., Forsström, E., Khan, J., Nikoleris, A. (2016). Elektrifiering av stadsbussar: En genomgång av erfarenheter i Sverige och Europa. K2 Working Papers 2016:12.

Khan, J., Aldenius, M., Norinder, H., Palm, J., Backman, F. (2017). Grön offentlig upphandling i transportsektorn. Swedish Knowledge Centre for Renewable Fuel (f3). Lund University.

Hrelja, R., Khan, J., Pettersson, F. (2020). How to Create Efficient Public Transport Systems? A Systematic Review of Critical Problems and Approaches for Addressing the Problems. Transport Policy. 98, 186–96.

Hultén, J., Wretstrand, A., Pettersson, F., Aldenius, M., Anund, A. (2018). Vilken framtid har bussen? Omvärldsanalys inom ramen för projektet Buss 2030. K2 Working Paper 2018:1

Lantz, M., Aldenius, M., Khan, J. (2019). Styrmedel för en ökad produktion och användning av biogas. Lund University.

Lantz, M., Aldenius, M. (2020). Produktion och användning av batterier för eldrivna bussar: Energianvändning och emissioner av växthusgaser. K2 Working Paper 2020:3.

Aldenius, M., Khan, J. (2020). Hållbar kollektivtrafikupphandling – Erfarenheter från forskningen. Energikontor Sydost.

Camén, C., Tsaxiri, P., Aldenius, M., Lidestam, H. (2020). Flexibility in contract design – is that possible? Research in Transportation Economics, 83, 100899.

Paulsson, A., Hrelja, R., Hylander, J. (2017). One for all, or all for oneself? Governance cultures in regional public transport planning, European Planning Studies, 25(12), 2293-2308.

Paulsson, A., Hrelja, R., Hylander, J. (2016). What culture does to regional governance. Collaboration and negotiation in public transport planning in two Swedish regions, Transportation Research Proceedia, 19, 147-150. 10.1016/j.trpro.2016.12.075

People in the project

Head of Research

Jamil Khan, Docent, Lund University

Project participants

  • Robert Hrelja, VTI
  • Fredrik Petterson-Löfqvist, Lund University
  • Jane Summerton, VTI
  • Malin Aldenius, Lund University
  • Jens Portinson Hylander, VTI

Project partners

  • Lund University
  • Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)

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