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Quality Approach in Tendering Urban Public Transport Operations

European Union
Complete with results
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Smart mobility and services (SMO)
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues


Background & Policy context

The need for greater attractiveness of Urban Public Transport (UPT) is essential to increase patronage and the share of UPT in the modal split, and to meet the objectives stated in the European Commission’s transport policy paper The Citizen’s Network. Successful service industries world-wide, focus more than ever on customer satisfaction, i.e. through continuous improvement programmes and user satisfaction surveys, and the UPT sector is starting to do the same. One way to deliver higher quality operations is to introduce quality indicators into tendering and contracting procedures, linked with programmes for the improvement of service quality.


The objectives of QUATTRO were:

  • to identify current and emerging quality management practices in the contracting and tendering of UPT provision, with a particular emphasis on issues of quality definition and measurement, the clarification of the contracting parties’ responsibilities, evaluation procedures and their impact on continuous improvement programmes;
  • to propose a series of guidelines to authorities and operators involved or interested in tendering, contracting and performance monitoring for UPT, with a strong focus on quality.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission; Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN; formerly DG VII)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


Together with experts from the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN TC 320 WG5), QUATTRO developed a standardised set of quality indicators for UPT.

General recommendations were:

  • to consider quality management as a continuous search for better service and organisation, rather than the pursuit of a rigid and specific level of quality;
  • to think customer-oriented;
  • to benchmark performance against others, within the transport sector or with other sectors.

The most significant recommendations specific to contracting/tendering authorities were:

  • to define a comprehensive urban development strategy;
  • to be clear about what can best be done in-house and what can be contracted out to others;
  • to use quality partnerships with operators, in addition to tenders and contracts;
  • to commit authorities to the achievement of targets under their own control. If necessary to submit authorities to penalty-and-reward mechanisms, so as to reassure the bidders/contractors on the credibility of these commitments and to compensate them for the costs they might incur as a result of any failure by the authority.

Recommendations specific to operators were:

  • to seek to establish a visible professional competence by reaching standards set for formal qualification (ISO 9000) and/or by implementing total quality management principles;
  • to develop a customer satisfaction measurement system and to use its results in connection with those of the internal quality monitoring system;
  • to continuously assess customer satisfaction;
  • to listen to the staff, communicate with them on their working conditions, on the results of their work and on the practical consequences for them of the management's decisions.

Policy implications

The European Commission should intensify support to the public transport sector at all levels, notably by exerting a positive influence on Governments, Citizens and groups of opinion formers. More specifically, it should:

  • set principles and issue clear recommendations and guidelines for tendering and contracting procedures, by regulations or other appropriate instruments. The Commission should encourage the introduction of quality in the specification and monitoring of tenders and contracts;
  • support research in public transport to foster innovation;
  • publicise and support good practice in networks, including contract and quality management practices;
  • monitor results Europe-wide, educate those who are failing and stimulate comparability of results.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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