Bargain reports and analytics

Affordability of public transport in the UK

PicodiMarch 16, 2020

The importance of public transport is a hot topic not only in the United Kingdom 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 transport gains more recognition — it seems like an obvious solution to the problem, and in numerous cities, officials try to encourage commuters to use collective transport. Luxembourg, for example, has recently launched the world’s first free nationwide public transport, 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 public transport for their residents.

What keeps people from using public transport then? Despite its many advantages, some cities struggle to make public transport 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 ticket prices for publick transport in the UK and other countries

The highest prices for a month of unlimited access to public transport were noted in London — £199.30 (around €237), Dublin (€195), and New York (€116). However, when taking into account the average monthly wage, the tables have turned for New York: it ranked 33rd out of 39 cities. It means that an average New Yorker could buy a monthly pass for bus and subway with just 2.4 per cent of his net pay.

Londoners are not as lucky — with the average net pay of £5,296 (Numbeo data as of March 2020), they would have to spend more than 8 per cent of their hard-earned money on public transport pass. In a similar position are people living in Istanbul and Kyiv (around 9 per cent). Still, it is the residents of São Paulo who are the worst off: they would have to spend more than 15 per cent of their monthly pay to freely ride public transport.

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

Fares in the United Kingdom

Public transport fares in the biggest cities of the UK

Unsurprisingly, among the 15 biggest cities in the UK, the most expensive public transport was noted in London (around £199 for zones 1 to 4 which cover Inner London). The variety of services included in the price may explain such amount: a monthly pass holder in London can freely use the underground, rail services and buses.

Manchester ranked second, with £129 for unlimited access to bus and tram rides, followed by Birmingham with £93 (buses, trams and rail services). Glasgow and Nottingham rounded out the top five with £75 for a monthly pass.

The cheapest places to ride public transport — although not as diversified as in London — are Cardiff and Coventry, with £53 and £51.5 respectively.


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 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 transport 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).

In cities where various means of transport are served by different operators (Bucharest), the price shown in the ranking is the sum of monthly passes for all means of transport.

The study excludes cities where one specific mode of public transport 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.



Public Use

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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 the United Kingdom since 2012.

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.

  • Head of Department: Nikolay Kashcheev
  • Researchers: Katarzyna Kobyłka, Paweł Stolarczyk, Irina Egurtsova
  • Graphic Design: Daria Ponomareva