Public transport in UK cities most expensive in Europe
A new report published today (24 February) has highlighted how the UK’s biggest cities – Birmingham, London and Manchester – are ranked among the worst in Europe for public transport affordability.
The report Clean Cities: Benchmarking European cities on create the right conditions for zero-emission mobility, ranked 36 European cities according to the progress they are making towards achieving net zero mobility by 2030, based on measures ranging from more space for walking and cycling road safety and policies to eliminate polluting cars.
In the ranking by public transport affordability, London came 36th, followed by Manchester (35th) and Birmingham (34th). The three cities are at the bottom of the table, with residents being asked to shell out 8-10% of their household budget for monthly travel expenses.
In contrast, in Oslo, which tops the overall ranking in the report, passengers spend only 2% of their household budget on public transport.
With rail fares set to rise another 3.8% next week, along with London Underground and bus fares by 4.8%, Campaign for Better Transport calls the report “a wake-up call for the government British”. The transport charity is calling for more central government action to make buses and trains affordable. Helping more people use public transport is key to tackling air pollution and traffic congestion in cities, as well as reaching our net zero targets.
Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “This report clearly establishes the link between the cost of public transport and efforts to decarbonise transport and should therefore serve as a wake-up call for the UK government. We currently have a situation where it is often cheaper to drive or fly short distances than to take the train or bus, when the greenest option should always be the cheapest. We need more affordable public transport to help us achieve the government’s vision that public transport, cycling and walking are the first choice in transport.
When ranking overall progress towards achieving zero-emission mobility, London came 12th overall with a score of 55.8%. Birmingham was 17th with a score of 52.8% and Manchester was 30th with a score of 42.1%.
Oliver Lord, UK head of the Clean Cities Campaign, which produced the report, said: “The only way to tackle air pollution and the climate crisis is to make public transport a cheap alternative. , reliable and accessible to the car. Our new report shows that UK cities have the least affordable public transport in Europe, which will inevitably get worse given this government’s decision to raise fares amid a cost of living crisis. This government should help, not hinder, our cities to play their part in delivering the UK’s clean air and climate goals.
To improve affordability and help ensure that the greenest transport option is always the cheapest, Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the UK government to:
● Introduce Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) ticketing with daily price caps in cities and towns as soon as possible
● Improve the offer of flexible rail passes to ensure that it offers savings comparable to those of a full-time pass
● Accelerate the promised reform of rail fares and ticketing to provide more affordable options and eliminate inconsistencies
● Improve incentives for bus operators to implement contactless payment options and inter-operator ticketing.
Mr Tuohy added: “We are running out of time to tackle the climate crisis. Transport is still the biggest carbon emitter in the UK. The government must do more to encourage people to use public transport by making it more affordable and encouraging its use.