Research Output

Reregulating the deregulated, a case study of the Scottish Bus market.

  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 measures that are being considered in different parts of Great Britain, and primarily focuses on recent proposals that have appeared for the partial reregulation of the bus industry in Scotland. Trends within the Scottish bus market/industry are examined to establish the background to any possible measures. Analysis is then made up of three components: firstly, a quantitative analysis of any potential savings that could be made in subsidy by introducing competition for the market in Scotland, secondly an examination of experience in New Zealand with bus reregulation, and finally a qualitative analysis of views expressed during the consultation phase of a proposed private member’s bill for bus reregulation in Scotland. 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 have been severely restricted in the very long term.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Date:

    03 January 2014

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    HE Transportation and Communications


Cowie, J. (2014, January). Reregulating the deregulated, a case study of the Scottish Bus market. Paper presented at 46th Universities Transport Studies Group Conference, Newcastle, United Kingdom



Reregulation; deregulation; bus; public transport;

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