Public transport too expensive in many European countries
3 min read

Public transport too expensive in many European countries

BrusselsNew analysis by Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe has ranked public transport affordability and simplicity in 30 European countries and their capitals, and shows that it is too expensive in many places. Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece and Norway scored worst in the ranking of national transport tickets, while Dublin, London, Paris and Amsterdam ranked worst for the capitals. [1]

The analysis comes days after Germany and Hungary’s new low-cost nationwide travel cards came into effect on 1 May.

Greenpeace is calling on national and local governments to introduce affordable ‘climate tickets’ for all public transport, and for the European Commission to facilitate this – with a view to introducing a Europe-wide single climate ticket in the future. German transport minister Volker Wissing last month expressed support for a pan-European public transport ticket similar to the new Deutschlandticket.

Greenpeace EU transport campaigner Lorelei Limousin said: “Affordable public transport is a necessity, but many governments treat it like a luxury good. Millions of people rely on buses, trams and trains to get to work and school, to meet their families and friends, to participate in society in a sustainable way. Governments must introduce simple and affordable ‘climate tickets’ for public transport, to cut people’s bills and to reduce the oil use driving our planet towards climate disaster.”

Public transport as a luxury good

Public transport tickets in the EU are taxed at an average of 11% VAT, which is still higher than many other basic services and necessities. Six EU countries currently tax public transport as much as jewellery or luxury watches. [2]

At the same time, the VAT on cross-border airline tickets in the EU is at 0% and kerosene for aeroplanes is also not taxed, which keeps the price of polluting transport low, while climate-friendly transport remains expensive.

More needed to make transport simple and affordable

Apart from Luxembourg and Malta, which made domestic public transport free, only Austria, Germany and Hungary have introduced relatively affordable nationwide tickets, costing less than €3 per day. Around two thirds of the countries analysed do not have country-wide long-term travel passes at all.

Greenpeace is calling on national and local governments to implement or improve their climate tickets, and for the European Commission to provide guidance and encouragement. National governments and the EU institutions should begin preparations for an EU-wide climate ticket which could be used for cross-border travel. To fund these services, and to shift incentives away from the most polluting forms of travel, Greenpeace is calling on national governments and the EU to end the tax exemptions for international flights and for aviation fuel, and to further improve and expand their existing public transport networks.


[1] Country ranking: Luxembourg (#1), Malta (#2), Austria (#3), Germany (#4), Cyprus (#5), Spain (#6), Switzerland (#7), Hungary (#8), Netherlands (#9), Estonia (#10), Czech Republic (#11), Belgium (#12),  Ireland (#13), Slovenia (#14), UK (#15), Denmark (#16), Portugal (#17), Sweden (#17), Poland (#19), Lithuania (#19), Finland (#21), France (#21), Italy (#21), Slovakia (#21), Romania (#25), Latvia (#26), Norway (#26), Greece (#28), Croatia (#28), Bulgaria (#30).

Capital city ranking: Tallinn (#1), Luxembourg (#1), Valletta (#1), Prague (#4), Bratislava (#5), Madrid (#6), Rome (#7), Vienna (#8), Athens (#9), Sofia (#10), Nicosia (#11), Warsaw (#12), Brussels (#13), Ljubljana (#14), Lisbon (#15), Budapest (#16), Riga (#17), Vilnius (#18), Bern (#19), Oslo (#20), Helsinki (#21), Zagreb (#22), Berlin (#23), Copenhagen (#24), Stockholm (#25), Bucharest (#26), Paris (#27), Amsterdam (#28), London (#29), Dublin (#30).

[2] In six EU countries, the standard VAT rate (which is the highest in the country) is applied both to public transport and luxury goods. These countries are Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Slovakia, Croatia and Hungary.


Lorelei Limousin, Greenpeace EU transport campaigner:

+32 (0)477 79 04 15,

Greenpeace EU press desk:

+32 (0)2 274 1911,

For breaking news and comment on EU affairs:

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning network that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. We do not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties. Greenpeace has over three million supporters, and 26 independent national and regional organisations with offices in more than 55 countries.

EU Transparency Register: 9832909575-41

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