Comparative study of the public transport financing and of the fare policy in different metropolitan areas of Europe

“Comparative study of the public transport financing and of the fare policy in different metropolitan areas of Europe”–realised by ATM Barcelona.

  • Barcelona, Madrid and Amsterdam have sustainable transport (non-motorized
    means of transport and public transport) in over 60% of journeys;
  • The 10-trip multi-trip pass is the most widely used ticket in Barcelona, one
    of the cities where it is the cheapest;
  • Public transport subsidies exceed 50%.

On 24 February 2010, the Secretary for Mobility of the city of Barcelona Manel Nadal, opened the conference to present the comparative study of the financing of public transport and of the fare policy in different metropolitan areas of Europe, promoted by the ATM’s Executive Committee. The study was carried out by the company Deloitte which received collaboration from the Madrid Regional Transport Consortium (CTM), the Paris Ile-de-France Transport Syndicate (STIF), the City Region of Amsterdam (STA), the Berlin-Brandenburg Traffic Association (VBB) and the Ministry of the Region of Brussels-Capital (MRBC) hereby referred to by the name of the main city.

This work carried out a comparative analysis of the organization of public transport systems, their financing and the fare structure in the areas of Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Madrid, Paris and Barcelona between the years 2004 and 2007.

The conclusion of the study is that there are different organizational models of the public transport system depending on the strategic and operative degree of responsibility of the public authorities and of the competences they are granted, but with characteristics that are common to all of them.

Analysis of the mobility
The use of non-motorized transport means (bicycle or walking) is very significant in most of the European cities analysed, with the maximum score in Barcelona area. With respect to public transport, Amsterdam and Madrid are the metropolitan areas where it is most used, while in Berlin, Paris and Barcelona it scores 20%. In the cases of Berlin and Paris, this is due to a wider use of the car, while in the case of Barcelona, more people move around walking.

On the other hand, Brussels is the area where more travelling by car is recorded, sometimes it amounts to 60% of the journeys.


The demand and the fare system
In the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the
population’s mobility and in the use of public transport. In this
sense, if the demand for public transport is compared with the
population’s evolution, it shows that the increases in the
demand are higher than the demographic growth. The areas
where the most important variations were recorded were
Brussels, followed by Barcelona and Amsterdam.

On the other hand, the level of use of each transport ticket in
the different areas varies, depending on the established fare system.
So, the most used tickets are the monthly season tickets, except
in the case of Barcelona where the ticket with the highest
degree of penetration is the T-10 pass which is used in over 50%
of the cases.

With respect to the prices of the tickets in the year referred to in the
study (2007), the 10-trip multi-trip pass is clearly cheaper in the
metropolitan areas of Madrid and Barcelona. It should be pointed
out that, in all the areas analysed, this is an integrated ticket, except
in the case of Madrid.


For the purposes of comparing the evolution of prices, the current fares in the different cities analysed are indicated below.


The offer and the operational costs
In the last few years, the offer in public transport has increased with
respect to new services and also to their quality in all areas analysed.
The increase in the offer and the improvement in the quality of the
services entail an increase in the operational costs.
The average operational cost per trip in all the systems studied is
€1.50. Brussels is the area with the highest value and Barcelona and
Madrid are those with the lowest costs.


Financing the system
In all the areas analysed there is a strong component of public
financing (subventions) in the cost structure of the public transport
system. The operational costs covered by the fare revenue
amount to less than 50% in all metropolitan areas.

For every type of public administration, the origin of the subventions
varies greatly depending on the area. In Brussels and Berlin, they
come entirely from regional administrations, where as in the case
of Amsterdam, 96% of the contributions come from the state.
Barcelona, Madrid and Paris Ile-de-France obtain funds from
state [1], regional and local administrations, although the regional
contributions are particularly significant.


In the case of Paris Ile de France the transport tax levied on
companies with more than 9 employees stands for a significant
amount alongside the public administrations subventions.
The changes in the origin of public subventions in the period
analysed, generally speaking, shows the loss of the state’s
participation in financing transport, which tends towards a
heavier burden on the regional and local administrations.

More information at

  • Updated : June 25, 2010

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Palma de Mallorca
Paris Ile-de-France
Rotterdam/The Hague