Web Development by SUSTAINABLE

Public Transport in UK Cities the Most Expensive in Europe

3 min

c. Phil Long, Flickr
A new report released today has highlighted that the UK’s largest cities are ranked the worst in Europe for public transport affordability. Quadrant Transport looks at how the UK compares to the rest of Europe. 

The Clean Cities: Benchmarking European cities on creating the right conditions for Zero-emission mobility report, ranked 36 European countries on various topics. These include progress towards net zero, development of walking and cycling routes and affordability of public transport. 

Ranking by the affordability of public transport, the UK’s three biggest cities, Birmingham, London and Manchester, were at the very bottom of the list. Monthly travel costs in the UK equates to 8-10 per cent of household budgets. 

Placing top of the table was Oslo, where passengers spent 2 per cent of their household budget.   

The UK is pushing for cleaner travel despite increasing transport costs

Focusing back on the UK, rail fairs are set to increase by a further 3.8 per cent next week. On top of this, London tube and bus fares are rising by 4.8 per cent. 

The state of transport in the UK looks even bleaker when looking at the league table for net-zero progress. London ranked 12th in the table with a score of 55.8 per cent. Birmingham placed 17th and Greater Manchester was down in 30th place. 

The report explained: “Cleaning up transport is one of the most pressing challenges of our time. It is the only sector where emissions have been increasing since the nineties, with almost a quarter of these (23%) coming from cities.

Tackling these two issues is essential if we are to encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport. With the cost of living increasing in all aspects of life from inflation to gas prices, increasing the price of public transport is not going to encourage passengers. 

Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “This report makes clear the link between the cost of public transport and efforts to decarbonise transport and must therefore act as a wake-up call for the UK Government.” 

“We currently have a situation where the greenest transport option isn’t always the cheapest and it should be. We need more affordable public transport to help us achieve the government’s vision where public transport, cycling and walking are the first choice when it comes to transport.”

four-point action plan to turn the tide

To improve affordability and help ensure the most environmentally friendly option is always the most affordable these actions should be put in place: 

  • Introduce a PAYG ticketing with daily pricing capping within towns and cities. 
  • Re-map zones in Greater Manchester and London to ensure people are travelling cheaper
  • Improve flexible season tickets to ensure it provides comparable savings
  • Increase incentives for bus operators to implement contactless payment options and cross-operator ticketing 

Rounding up the report it stated: “The task at hand may seem overwhelming, but people often overestimate what can be done in the short term and wildly underestimate what can be achieved in the longer term. This is why we believe that now is the time to take stock and draw up a clear and pragmatic roadmap for all cities in Europe to lean in towards realising the path towards zero-emission mobility by 2030.”