A report from campaign group Transport and Environment has found that the UK’s three largest cities – London, Birmingham and Manchester – are ranked lowest in Europe for public transport affordability.
Out of 36 European cities, London came 36th in the Clean Cities Campaign report, preceded by Manchester (35th) and Birmingham (34th), with residents in each city being asked to fork out eight to ten percent of their household budget on monthly travel costs.
In contrast, in Oslo, which came top overall in the report, passengers spend just two per cent of their household budget on public transport fares.
“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,” said Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of transit advocacy group Campaign for Better Transport.
“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.”
The UK government subsidises urban transport to a lesser extent than most European countries, with the cost of buses and rail increasing in recent decades.
In the capital, pre-pandemic, fares accounted for 72 percent of Transport for London’s operating income, compared with 36 percent in Paris.
UK consumers are also facing higher prices with rail fares set to increase a further 3.8 percent this week, along with a 4.8 percent increase in London tube and bus fares.
The report assessed European cities on how much progress they are making towards achieving net zero mobility measures, ranging from more space for walking and cycling to road safety and policies to phase out polluting cars.
When ranking overall progress towards achieving zero-emission mobility, London came 12th with a score of 55.8 percent. Birmingham was 17th (52.8 percent) and Greater Manchester was 30th (42.1 percent).
Oslo was ranked number one, followed by Amsterdam, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Paris.
Oliver Lord, UK Head of Clean Cities Campaign, said: “The only way to address our air pollution and climate crisis is to ensure public transport is a cheap, reliable and accessible alternative 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 increase fares in a cost of living crisis. This government should be helping, not hindering, our cities to play their role in meeting the UK’s clean air and climate goals.”
Image: Julian Walker (Flickr)
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