Man standing in middle of train platform with two trains either side — Getty Images

The cheapest and most expensive public transport in the world

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These are the top five countries where you’ll pay the most and least for using metros, buses, trams, and local trains

A great public transport system is the backbone of any great city, with some even becoming icons in themselves — think the London tube map, San Francisco’s streetcars, or Venice’s vaporetti. Here we discover which countries charge the most and least for their public transport, and what you get for your money (all currencies converted to euros).

Source: Compare the Market Australia

The 5 most expensive countries for public transport


View over river in Züric towards Grossmünster — Getty ImagesZürich’s public transport is officially the most expensive public transport in the world — Getty Images

Average one-way fare: €3.73

Average monthly pass price: €82.84

A famously pricey country that takes pride in the cleanliness and general upkeep of things, it’s perhaps not a surprise that Switzerland is, overall, the most expensive country in the world in which to travel by public transport. Zürich actually comes out on top as the most expensive city in the world for a public transport ticket, with an average one-way journey price of €4.55.

The network will take you over the border into Liechtenstein as well, and it doesn’t get any cheaper there.



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Average one-way fare: €3.43

Average monthly pass price: €82.13

If you’re not cycling, you’ll almost certainly be using public transport as the Netherlands has a wide-ranging network of inter-city travel links as well as excellent metro, bus and tram services in the major cities. It won’t come cheap, though, with Eindhoven the most expensive Dutch city where buses cost an average of €4.53 for a single journey.



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Average one-way fare: €2.75

Average monthly pass price: €100.36

Local trains, buses, light rail and trams and, occasionally, ferries mean getting around Aussie cities is generally easy and pleasant. Adelaide, for example, runs a fleet of shiny, modern trams; Sydney’s ferries pootle happily between the various waterfront neighborhoods and beaches, and Perth’s local railway network will get you to all parts of the city, no danger. But you pay for what you get, putting Australia in third place on this list.


Tram on street in Oslo — Getty ImagesPublic transport in Oslo is of a high standard and comes at a relatively high price — Getty Images

Average one-way fare: €3.39

Average monthly pass price: €67.72

In a country known for a) its environmental awareness, and b) its cost of living, it’s not a massive shock that Norway appears on this list. Public transport is reliable and easy to use, though, and includes such things as the electric ferries that get Oslo locals (Oslocals?) around the islands and back into the city.


View down the river towards Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin — iStockView down the river towards Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin — iStock

Average one-way fare: €2.22

Average monthly pass price: €110.79

Dublin’s famous light railway network, the DART, takes residents from the suburbs to the center every 10 to 20 minutes, and when you’re in town, there are buses and trams to do the legwork for you. Getting around other cities (and the rest of the country) by bus and train is easy enough as well, but, as with other places on this list, it’s not the cheapest. Ireland lands in fifth place on our list.

The 5 cheapest countries for public transport

Sri Lanka

Long blue rural train in Sri Lanka — Getty ImagesSri Lanka is one of the very cheapest countries in the world when it comes to public transport — Getty Images

Average one-way fare: €0.16

Average monthly pass price: €5.43

93% of all Sri Lanka’s public ground transport is buses, with the nationally-owned SLTB (Sri Lanka Transport Board) running routes between cities. The capital, Colombo, has an extensive fleet of buses with many routes radiating from the central hub in Pettah. The plan is to add a busway to the city, giving buses dedicated lanes, right-of-way at crossings, and a more efficient network overall.



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Average one-way fare: €0.17

Average monthly pass price: €6.58

In a bid to improve both the infrastructure and the environment, the government of Pakistan has been introducing modern bus fleets into Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, replacing the yellow or white privately-owned minibuses that previously had a stranglehold on public transport. Over 8,000 natural gas-powered vehicles are being rolled out, meaning not only a cheap transport network, but a much cleaner one too.


Heavy traffic on road in Kathmandu — Getty ImagesTraffic in Kathmandu — Getty Images

Average one-way fare: €0.18

Average monthly pass price: €7.10

A rugged, mountainous country, road transport is touch-and-go in Nepal with many roads becoming impassable during the rainy season. That doesn’t mean that there’s no public transport, however; in Kathmandu, Ratna Park is the central hub for all bus and minibus traffic. There are also battery-powered tuk-tuks available, as well as mid-distance, local bus routes serving the wider Kathmandu Valley. 


Average one-way fare: €0.17

Average monthly pass price: €8.64

Algiers was the first city in northwest Africa to have a metro system, its 19-station network serving over 40 million people annually since its opening in 2011. The country also boasts tram networks in seven cities — Algiers, Oran, Constantine, Setif, Sidi Bel Abbes, Mostaganem and Ouargla — as well as cable cars and aerial tramways. It’s a well-run, well-integrated system with a number of new projects to come.


Metro station platform in Tashkent — Getty ImagesThe Tashkent Metro is the oldest system of its kind in Central Asia — Getty Images

Average one-way fare: €0.12

Average monthly pass price: €9.39

Tashkent’s stunning metro system, one of the legacies of its membership in the former USSR, opened in 1977 as the first in Central Asia. It’s a source of pride for the city, still as clean and well-run as on its first day. The bus network is less so — extensive, but unevenly signposted and with unpredictable journey times. Stick to the metro if you can, and it’s a tourist attraction in itself.

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