Top 10 Cities with the Best Public Transport
A city’s public transport can be a huge benefit. With a smart and well-run public transport system, residents and visitors alike can easily travel the city, whether they’re commuting to work or going to attractions and tourist hotspots.
Recently, the consulting firm Oliver Wyman with the University of California, Berkeley produced the Mobility Index Report, which included a Public Transit sub-index. This ranked cities on how good their public transport is. Each city was scored on factors such as density of public transport, the efficiency of the system, and utilisation rate. Indicators such as innovation, and social impact were also analysed.
Below, we examine the top ten cities with the best public transport according to this index, looking at what they provide and what makes them the best.
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Hong Kong was deemed to be the city with the best public transport, with a score of 77%.
Hong Kong has a highly developed public transport system which is affordable and efficient. The public transport system includes overground and underground rail, buses, trams, and ferries. Around 9.7 million journeys are made on the Hong Jong public transport system every day.
There are 167 MTR stations in Hong Kong with over 240 km of rail which connect the city centre as well as further afield to the airport. There is even a specific Disneyland Resort Line that takes passengers to the amusement park.
The HKeMobility app is a useful one-stop shop to plan journeys around Hong Kong that was developed by the Transport Department in Hong Kong. Here, users can see journey routes as well as timetables, journey times, and fares.
Hong Kong offers the Octopus card, a handy way of paying for public transport journeys that’s used by all transport types, including rail, ferries, and buses. The card can also be used at parking meters and to pay for goods in some stores, restaurants, and at most vending machines.
Zurich comes second in the rankings of cities with the best public transport. The largest city in Switzerland scored 73% on the Public Transit sub-index.
The public transport system in Zurich is known to be efficient, reliable, and punctual. The system includes buses, trains, trams, ferries, and a cable car. The system is affordable and easy to use – users purchase tickets to travel in zones around the city for a set period of time. A day pass to travel the city will cost around 8.60 Swiss Francs (around £7.70). This allows you to travel on all public transport, including rail and buses.
Zurich also offers the Zurich Card. Purchasing this card gives you unlimited travel around Zurich (zone 110) as well as travel to and from the airport. The card is valid for a set period, either 24 hours or 72 hours and costs 27 Swiss Francs (£24) or 53 Swiss Francs (£47) respectively. The card also gives you discounted or free admission to many museums and walking tours, as well as other experiences in the city.
Stockholm comes third in the ranking of cities with the best public transport. The Swedish capital scored 73%.
The public transport system in Stockholm is accessible, efficient, and environmentally friendly. It includes buses, trains, metro, and boats, and around 780,000 people use public transport in the city every day.
There are over 500 bus routes in and around Stockholm. This includes the world’s largest fleet of buses powered by ethanol, plus a number of buses that use biogas, a renewable energy source.
A single ticket valid for 75 minutes costs 39 SEK (£2.80) and can be used on multiple forms of transport. 24-hour, 72-hour, 7-day and 30-day tickets are also available. The underground also allows for contactless pas as you go, by tapping your credit card or smartphone as you go through the turnstile.
Singapore comes in fourth on the index for cities with the best public transport with a score of 72%.
The public transport system in Singapore is seen as efficient, practical, and affordable. It includes MRT, LRT, and buses. There are 365 bus services and 5,000 bus stops in Singapore. Around 4 million journeys are taken on buses every day. The MRT has 134 stations and has plans to expand further – the aim is to have eight out of every ten households in Singapore living within a ten-minute walk of a MRT station by 2030.
Singapore offers the EZ-link card, a straightforward way of getting around on public transport. The card acts as a contactless payment method and can be used on a variety of transport types around Singapore. It’s also accepted in many shops. The app allows users to top up the card and earn rewards.
Helsinki comes in fifth place on the list of cities with the best public transport. The capital of Finland has a public transit score of 71%.
Helsinki has a well-regarded public transport system that features buses, trams, metro, ferries, and trains. Around 50% of commuting trips in Helsinki are taken on public transport.
A single ticket can be used on all transport types. The HSL app allows users to buy tickets, as well as plan journey routes and check timetables. Alternatively, ticket machines are available in stations.
A single ticket is valid for 80-110 minutes, depending on the zones you are travelling in and costs around €4 (£3.40). Multi-journey tickets for longer periods are also available.
Oslo comes in sixth in the ranking of cities with the best public transport, with a score of 67%.
Oslo has an extensive and straightforward public transport system. Though much of the city is walkable, residents and visitors have the choice of buses, trams, underground and overground trains and ferries to get around.
The metro has five lines which all run through the city centre. In total, there are 101 stations and 14 out of 15 boroughs in the city are served by it. There are 50 bus routes in the city, with frequent and regular departures in stops that connect the entire city.
Tokyo ranks seventh in the list of cities with the best public transport. The Japanese capital has a score of 66%.
Tokyo has an extensive and efficient public transport system. It includes one of the largest rail networks in the road, with 158 lines and over 2,000 stations. The system also includes buses, trams, and monorails. The rail system is the most popular mode of transport, with over 40 million people travelling every day, amounting to over 14 billion every year. This includes 8.6 million people using the subway every day.
The trains are operated by multiple train companies. Users will need to purchase separate tickets for the different parts of the journey controlled by different operators.
A combined ticket for the metro is available, although it is only for tourists. A three-day subway pass costs 1480 JPY (£8) and is valid for all underground journeys in Tokyo for that time period.
Paris comes eighth in the ranking of cities with the best public transport, with a score of 66%.
The public transport system is dense and efficient. It’s estimated that people in Paris spend around 52 minutes using public transport to commute to and from work on an average weekday. The average distance of a commute on public transport is 12.03 km and people wait for around 13 minutes for their service to arrive.
The fastest way to travel around the city is by the metro. The metro system has 16 lines, many of which travel into the Paris suburbs. There are 300 stations and 136 miles of track, making it the third-longest underground system in Europe.
Berlin ranks ninth on the list of cities with the best public transport. The German capital has a score of 65% on the public transit index.
Berlin has a well-developed and vast public transport system which includes underground and overground trains, buses, and trams. Public transport is a popular choice in Berlin – 27% of journeys are on public transport, compared to 26% in cars, 30% by walking and 18% by cycling.
The Berlin public transport system is affordable and easy to use. Tickets are available for the zones you want to travel in – A, B, and/or C – and the duration of your trip. The ticket can be used on the S-Bahn, U-Bahn, trams, buses and regional trains. A 24-hour ticket for all zones costs €10.70 (£9.15).
London comes tenth in the ranking of cities with the best public transport, with a score of 64%.
The English capital city has one of the largest public transport systems in the world. It consists of underground and overground trains, as well as buses, trams, and riverboats. Around 37% of journeys in London are made on public transport and around 3 million people use the underground every day.
Passengers can use contactless to tap in and out on their underground and bus journeys to pay the fare. Alternatively, a visitor Oyster card can be bought, which can be topped up and used on all transport networks across London.