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Affordability of public transportation in Canada

PicodiMarch 16, 2020

The importance of public transportation is a hot topic not only in Canada but in the whole world. Rising traffic congestion and air pollution are concerns of many cities, keeping authorities awake at night. This is why public transportation gains more recognition — it seems like an obvious solution to the problem, and in numerous cities, officials try to encourage commuters to use collective transportation. Luxembourg, for example, has recently launched the world’s first free nationwide public transportation, not only for its residents but also the tourists. On a smaller scale, various other places, like Tallinn in Estonia or Olympia in the United States, have introduced free mass transit for their residents.

What keeps people from using public transportation then? Despite its many advantages, some cities struggle to make mass transit fast, convenient, and affordable. The price of the daily commute can convince or discourage a citizen from taking the local bus. This is why Picodi Analysis Team decided to examine the prices of monthly passes in the biggest cities of the world and contrast them with average wages to check their affordability.

Prices in selected cities worldwide

The ranking of monthly passes in the biggest cities around the globe

The highest prices for a month of unlimited access to public transportation were noted in London — (around US$259), Dublin (US$213), and New York (US$127). However, when taking into account the average monthly wage, the tables have turned for New York: it ranked 18th out of 24 cities. It means that an average New Yorker could buy a monthly pass for bus and subway with just 2.4 percent of his net pay.

Torontonians are not as lucky — with the average net pay of C$3,532 (Numbeo data as of March 2020), they would have to spend almost 4.5 percent of their hard-earned money on public transport pass.

However, it is the residents of São Paulo who are the worst off: they would have to spend more than 15 percent of their monthly pay to freely ride public transportation.

On the other side are residents of Zürich and Prague, who can enjoy affordable public transportation for less than 2 percent of their pay (1.37 and 1.84 percent respectively). But the real winners of this ranking are commuters in Tallinn and Luxembourg, who can ride all public transportation for free.

Fares in Canada

Public transport fares in provincial capitals of Canada

Unsurprisingly, among the provincial capitals of Canada, the most expensive public transportation was noted in Toronto (C$156). The variety of services included in the price may explain such amount: a monthly pass holder in Toronto can freely use the streetcars, buses, and subway.

Calgary ranked second, with C$109 for unlimited access to buses and light rail services, followed by Winnipeg with C$102 for bus rides. Vancouver and Montreal rounded out the top five with C$98 and C$86.5 respectively for a monthly pass.

The cheapest places to ride public transportation — although not as diversified as in Toronto — are Whitehorse and Charlottetown, with C$62 and C$58.5 respectively.

The only provincial capital without public transportation is Iqaluit. Its new Transportation Master Plan is anticipated to be completed by late 2020.

Methodology

The research was based on prices of single tickets and monthly passes collected from local public transport operators, as of March 2020. The average net wages in 39 cities considered in the international ranking come from numbeo.com. For the currency conversion, we used the average Google Finance rates for February 2020.

The ranking includes prices of single tickets and monthly passes that grant unlimited rides for all means of public transportation within the city. In the single tickets comparison, the most advantageous price for the commuter was taken into consideration — purchased via mobile application or with the special commuter card (but excluding ticket booklets).

The study excludes cities where one specific mode of public transportation is served by various operators with very different pricing policies (Tokyo, Beijing, Jakarta, Bangkok, and others).

The full list of countries and operators included in the research can be found under the following link.

Sources

  • https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/articles/luxembourg-free-public-transport/
  • https://theconversation.com/traffic-congestion-reconsidered-111921
  • https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/oct/11/tallinn-experiment-estonia-public-transport-free-cities
  • https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/09/move-olympia-washington-create-zero-fare-public-transit-called-beautiful-thing
  • https://nunavutnews.com/nunavut-news/hoping-for-a-public-transport-system/

Public Use

Feel free to use all the data and infographics presented in this report for both commercial and non-commercial purposes as long as you indicate the author of the research (Picodi.com) with a link to this subpage. If you have any questions, please contact us: research@picodi.com.

About Picodi

Picodi is an international e-commerce platform which provides discount coupons for online stores. Founded in 2010 in Kraków, it currently operates in 44 countries and is listed in FT1000 ranking of Europe’s fastest-growing companies. In Canada since 2019.

Picodi Analysis Department

The unit was established in 2017, and it analyses the market, consumer activities, prices of products and services, as well as wages.