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Article

Contracting out public transport services to vertical partnerships

This paper studies the organisational structure of contracting out transportation operations to a vertical partnership between local authorities and a vertically integrated monopoly. Pricing decisions are delegated to the partnership operating in the downstream market as a socially concerned firm that maximises a weighted sum of social welfare and profits. The price for essential input required to produce each unit of the transportation service is determined by the monopoly in the upstream market for rolling stock and crew leasing. A forward ownership interest in the vertical partnership held by the monopoly yields a partial rebate of the downstream margin. In turn, the local authorities can extract the upstream monopoly rent via a franchise fee which can be determined ex post. Our theoretical model predicts that local authorities with a relatively high share in the partnership should decrease the net transfer from the budget by increasing the franchise fees if the upstream profit margins are high. The empirical evidence for the impact of the ownership structure on contractual regime is found in the panel data for 25 suburban passenger companies in Russia in 2011-2015, where partial cost recovery and inappropriate compensation plays the role of pseudo-franchising contracts