Switzerland has the most expensive public transport in the world, study reveals

Switzerland has the most expensive public transport in the world, study reveals

While the words “Switzerland” and “high cost” often go together like melted cheese on potatoes, sometimes the high cost of living is brought into even sharper relief: a study by privatecar insurance and mortgage comparison site Compare the Market has found that Swiss public transport is the most expensive in the world. Alliance SwissPass has responded to the report, arguing that for the high cost, travellers get to use the best system on earth.

World public transport cost index 2023

To create the study, Compare the Market analysed how much it costs to make public transport journeys in 99 countries around the world. Using data from Numbeo, they calculated the average cost of a one-way adult fare and a monthly pass in each nation. 

Prices in each of the 99 were then averaged together and compared to other countries on the list, with the most expensive nations getting a score close to 10, while the cheapest got a score near zero. The cost of transport in 407 cities from around the world was also analysed, but these findings were not incorporated into the national ranking.

Switzerland has the priciest public transport on earth

With a score of 9,8 out of 10, Switzerland was found to have the most expensive public transport in the world, followed by the Netherlands in second with 9,69 and Australia in third with 9,49. The alpine nation took the top spot thanks to the cost of a one-way ticket, with the average pass costing 3,91 US dollars - the highest single fare noted by the study, just in front of Iceland with 3,89.

SBB and Co did do better when it came to the cost of monthly passes at 89,42 dollars, placing fifth behind the likes of Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, where a monthly ticket costs an average of 120 dollars. By contrast, the cheapest public transport network in the world was found to be in Sri Lanka, where average day tickets cost just 0,17 cents, while a monthly pass only sets riders back 5,79 dollars.

Zurich the most expensive city for trams, trains and buses

Switzerland’s less-than-stellar score also translated into the city ranking, with Zurich being named as the most expensive metropolis to get around with public transport, thanks to an average one-way ticket price of 4,85 US dollars. Eindhoven in the Netherlands placed second with 4,83 dollars.

Interestingly, the upper echelons of the top 10 were dominated by Dutch cities, with the Hague and Rotterdam rounding out the top four. The other Swiss cities to feature in the ranking were Lausanne in fifth, Bern in sixth, Basel in eighth and Zug in 10th.

Alliance SwissPass defends high ticket prices

It’s perhaps no surprise that the alpine nation’s prominent position at the top of the ranking ruffled some feathers at Alliance SwissPass - the body responsible for pricing tickets in Switzerland. Speaking to 20 Minuten, spokesperson Reto Hügli said that the higher prices reflect the higher cost of living and how good the public transport system is when compared to other countries.

“In Switzerland, public transport is part of the public service and makes it possible to reach almost all places in the country. The popularity and success of public transport is also reflected in its use. Currently, more than 3 million half-price season tickets (Halbtax-abo) and almost 437.000 general season tickets (GA) are in circulation”, he argued.

The ranking has also not been taken well within the halls of government, with National Councillor Florence Brezikofer arguing that drivers are still better off financially than those who take the train and that “without a half-fare pass, public transport is far too expensive, some can hardly afford it.” She concluded that attempts to offer cut-price tickets in Switzerland, such as the GA-Night, are not enough and that a simple and inexpensive pass must be released soon.

10 most expensive public transport systems in the world

In all, here are the 10 counties with the most expensive public transport systems:

  • 1. Switzerland (9,80)
  • 2. The Netherlands (9,69)
  • 3. Australia (9,49)
  • 4. Norway (9,33)
  • 5. Ireland (9,29)
  • =6. Sweden (9,28)
  • =6. United Kingdom (9,28)
  • =8. Denmark (9,18)
  • =8. Germany (9,18)
  • 10. New Zealand (9,13)

For more information, check out the official website.

Thumb image credit: Bumble Dee /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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