Top 10 European cities with the most satisfied inhabitants regarding the public transport

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Transport infrastructure connects people with their jobs, education, health care, leisure, annual leaves and, most importantly, with each other. However, it also produces emissions that widely contribute to air pollution, noise pollution and the overall climate change.

According to the Inter-American Development Bank, transport represents about 1/5 of the world’s energy demand and 1/4 of the CO2 emissions related to energy, meaning it is the fastest growing source of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Transport accounts for approximately 64% of global oil consumption, 27% of all energy use, and 23% of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Furthermore, every year more than 1,25 million people are killed and up to 50 million are injured on the roads, says World Bank.

The climate crisis is one of the main reasons why cities are turning towards sustainable transport options. The benefits are numerous: from reducing the environmental footprint, creating less congestion, to improving the health but also saving money.

Naturally, the best sustainable transportation options are walking and cycling. Both of those are 100% green and do not cause greenhouse gas emissions, air or noise pollution. Also, both options improve the environmental awareness and the overall physical health.

However, for longer distances, walking and cycling are not possible. If that is the case, the best solution is using electric transport system. This alternative to fuel represents a more economical solution with an efficiency of approximately 90% by requiring less energy to perform the same work as traditional engines, confirms Inter-American Development Bank.

Generally speaking, the transportation infrastructure varies greatly around the world and even within individual countries. One thing is common for everyone: reliable transportation is needed in all cities and countries around the globe. What do European citizens say regarding their satisfaction with the public transport?

Every four years, Eurostat conducts a perception survey regarding citizens’ satisfaction with the public transport. In 2019, 103 cities participated in the survey (in 2015, there were 112 participant cities). The first two positions have not changed: residents of Zürich (78,2% of people are very satisfied with public transport in the city)and Vienna (70%) are still the most satisfied ones with the public transport in Europe.

According to the Zürich official website, their public transportation network is one of the most efficient and reliable in the world. This statement is supported by the Arcadis’ Sustainable City Index which proclaimed Zürich as the most sustainable city in the world in 2016.

All the public means of transport in Zürich are under the management of one company, Zürich Transport Association (ZVV). This means that just one ticket can be used for all the transport forms, including boats or cable cars.

Furthermore, Zürich’s dense and frequent transport network connects all the city parts, so it comes with no surprise that Zürich citizens prefer using the public transport rather than their private vehicles. But that is not the only reason why the inhabitants of Zürich choose the public transportation. To encourage the further switch from cars to public transport, the city imposed high toll rates in populated area and, at the same time, is offering a very fair ticket price for the public transportation. Therefore, the effect of these measures is very visible: the car ownership has gone below 50% in Zürich.

Vienna has a well-developed public transport network of buses, trains, trams and underground system. The city has five underground lines, 29 tram and 127 bus lines, 24 of which are night lines. A research showed that the car share of trips got reduced from 40% to 27% in 20 years (between 1993 and 2014). This huge success was accomplished thanks to the improved public transport and introduction of policies that made the car use less convenient, slow and more expensive.

In 2015, the German city of Rostock was placed on the fourth place in this research, while in 2019, the city progressed to the third place. The percentage of people who are very satisfied with public transport is 57,4%, which is an improvement of 0,4% with regards to 2015.

Rostock has an excellent public transport network and they also offer the possibility to use different means of transport with only one ticket. Furthermore, to decrease the traffic in the city centre, Rostock also offers the Park&Ride solution (P+R). This means that people can leave their cars on the special parking places outside of the centre and take the public transport directly to the heart of the city. This way, the inhabitants avoid the search for a parking space, parking charges and they participate in decreasing the air pollution and CO2 emissions.

The fourth place is reserved for Dresden (54,4%). This German city also offers numerous Park+Ride locations which are mostly free of charge. From there, one can just jump on a bus or train and reach their final destination without stress and the trouble of looking for a parking spot. Furthermore, the city is constantly working on creating new P+R locations. Naturally, sometimes the freedom a car provides is just an unavoidable necessity. That is why Dresden offers the opportunity to use over 300 MOBIcar vehicles which can be found at over 200 car sharing stations throughout the city. With MOBIcar, there are no costs of car purchase, maintenance or insurance, the booking is very easy and affordable and the cars can be collected and returned at different places throughout the city.

Another great option Dresden offers is MOBIbike, a bike sharing service in cooperation with nextbike. This environmentally friendly mobility option at a very low rate is very popular in the German city.

The top 5 list is rounded up with the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Within Rotterdam, one can travel with public transport which also includes water transport. Furthermore, Rotterdam offers an extensive amount of sharing mobility services for a sustainable travel around the city. From bikes to e-scooters, Rotterdam offers different solutions as an alternative to public transport with very fair prices.

The further six cities which made the top 10 list achieved a score of slightly under 50% of people who are very satisfied with the public transport. Munich (49,4) is on the sixth place, followed by the Bulgarian city of Burgas (49,3%). The eight place is reserved for Manchester greater area (46,7%). On the ninth place and tenth places are German cities Berlin and Freiburg, both with the score of 46,4%.

The UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that approximately 2.4 million premature deaths caused by the outdoor air pollution could be avoided on an annual basis. Therefore, cities around the world are continuously making investments in sustainable transportation in order to fight against climate change, reduce the emissions and improve the air quality and overall health of the citizens. (photo credit: macrovector/Freepik)