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Greenpeace ranked the European capitals by public transport affordability

Greenpeace studied 30 European countries and their capitals for the best and worst public transport ticketing systems. Dublin ranks last behind London, Amsterdam and Paris.

Dublin street
Street in Dublin. Ireland’s capital city has been ranked the worst in Europe for public transport affordability and accessibility by Greenpeace | © Michael Arlotto

Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe office in Austria released on May 4 a ranking on public transport accessibility in 30 European countries and their capitals. The climate campaign group looked at public transport based on cost and ease in purchasing tickets.

And with 34 out of 100 points, Dublin is the most expensive and complicated capital city to buy public transport tickets. London is 29th, Amsterdam is 28th, and Paris ranks 27.

Dublin is strongly penalized because there is no monthly or yearly ticket to use on all means of public transport, unlike the other capitals. A monthly ticket is only available to employees when the employer joins a tax saver program. However, all other passengers need to buy monthly subscriptions for buses, trams and trains in Dublin separately.

In 2021, an OECD environmental performance review also tackled Ireland for its excessive parking space, encouraging people to use their cars instead of public transport, as fewer than 4 percent of drivers pay for parking when working in Dublin.

Transport, mainly passenger car trips, is Ireland’s first source of greenhouse gas emissions.

London the most expensive European capital for public transport

London, Dublin, Amsterdam and Paris are the four most expensive capitals in public transportation which, adjusted with the local price level indices, offer full-price long-term tickets for more than 2.25 euros per day.

In London, an annual ticket without discounts that covers 3 out of 9 transport zones costs 1,916 pounds (€2,174), which, adjusted with the price level index, results in daily costs of 4.11 euros.

Amsterdam and the Netherlands have a good reputation for green city mobility with extensive bike use but, the city suffers in this report from the cost of its public transportation.

Greenpeace analyzed the 27 European Union Member States, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

They used four criteria to build their rankings: The affordability of full-price long-term tickets, which had the most weight of all, the simplicity of the ticketing system, the discounts for socially disadvantaged groups (elderly, students, low-income people or people with disabilities), and the VAT rate applied (only for the country ranking).

A country or a city scored full points in the “full-price long-term ticket” category if there was a long-term ticket for all means of transport costing, after price level adjustments, 1 euro per day or less in the case of a country and 50 cents per day or less in the case of a city.

Other important aspects like the quality of the network, frequency or operating hours were not considered for the ranking.

Moreover, Greenpeace didn’t consider some specific measures, like the fact that employers in France must reimburse employees up to at least 50 percent of the cost of public transport subscriptions used for commuting. France ranks at the 21st position with only 5 points out of 100.

Domestic public transport free in Luxembourg and Malta

For Greenpeace, public transport is too expensive in many places. “Affordable public transport is a necessity, but many governments treat it like a luxury good,” said Greenpeace EU transport campaigner Lorelei Limousin.

Luxembourg, Estonia’s capital city Tallinn and Valletta, the capital of Malta, are the three best cities in terms of public transport affordability and score the maximum points possible. Luxembourg and Malta made domestic public transport free.

Luxembourg, Malta and Austria were the countries at the top of Greenpeace’s ranking while Bulgaria was at the bottom of the list.

In 2021, Austria introduced a “climate ticket,” offering all public transport nationwide with a single ticket. The KlimaTicket Ö costs 1,095 euros at full price for a year on all the country’s scheduled services.

The term climate ticket is often used in Europe as an affordable long-term public transport ticket valid on all means of public transport, excluding tourism services, in an area.

Greenpeace’s ranking comes days after Germany and Hungary introduced new low-cost nationwide travel cards on May 1. The non-profit calls for more governments to apply climate tickets and hopes there could be a European-wide single climate ticket in the future.

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