Any good budget traveler can tell you that one of the best and easiest ways to save money in almost any city is to use the public transportation system, especially on longer journeys. As we recently displayed in our world taxi prices comparison, even a short trip can be incredibly expensive in some cities.
So below we’ve compiled public transportation prices in 80 of the most popular tourist cities all over the world. Since nearly every one of these systems is subsidized by the city, some of the prices are shockingly low, even on quite a few new-and-clean metro systems.
With the exception of the single most expensive one (which is really more of a novelty), the pricier part of the list more or less lines up with what you’d expect and what the locals can afford. Often in those cases the city also encourages use by severely punishing self-drivers with high road and/or parking fees. It’s also worth mentioning that most cities offer weekly or monthly transit cards that often bring the per-ride cost way down for locals.
Single-ride public transportation prices in 80 tourist cities
*all prices converted into US dollars in mid-November, 2010
Price ranges reflect shortest to longest rides in most cities. Tourists are most likely to pay the lowest price.
Caracas, Venezuela (metro, bus) $0.12 – $0.28
Cairo, Egypt (metro) $0.17
Delhi, India (metro) $0.18 – $0.66
La Paz, Bolivia (bus) $0.19 – $0.50
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (light rail, bus) $0.22 – $0.76
Marrakech, Morocco (bus) $0.24 – $0.61
Mexico City, Mexico (metro) $0.24
Panama City, Panama (bus) $0.25
Quito, Ecuador (bus) $0.25 – $0.35
Hong Kong, China (tram, ferry) $0.26 – $0.39
Buenos Aires, Argentina (bus, subway) $0.28 – $0.32
Beijing, China (subway) $0.30
Dakar, Senegal (bus) $0.31
Lima, Peru (bus) $0.36 – $0.64
Auckland, New Zealand (bus, train) $0.38 – $1.38
Macau, China (bus) $0.41 – $0.83
Shanghai, China (metro) $0.45 – $1.35
Cancun, Mexico (bus) $0.49
Taipei, Taiwan (metro, bus) $0.49 – $2.14
Bangkok, Thailand (skytrain, subway) $0.50 – $1.34
Singapore, Singapore (subway, light rail) $0.61 – $1.53
St. Petersburg, Russia (tram, bus, metro) $0.61 – $0.71
Cartagena, Colombia (bus) $0.64 – $0.80
Dubai, UAE (metro) $0.68 – $2.18
Montevideo, Uruguay (bus) $0.76
Sofia, Bulgaria (tram, bus, metro) $0.80
Phuket, Thailand (bus) $0.83, $1.17
Moscow, Russia (metro) $0.84
Krakow, Poland (bus, tram) $0.86
Seoul, South Korea (subway, bus) $0.89 – $1.77
Prague, Czech Republic (tram, bus, metro) $1.00 – $1.44
Santiago, Chile (metro, bus) $1.00 – $1.20
Istanbul, Turkey (tram, bus, metro, ferry) $1.03
Cape Town, South Africa (bus) $1.14
Lisbon, Portugal (tram, bus, metro) $1.16 – $3.97
New Orleans, USA (tram, bus) $1.25 – $1.50
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (metro, bus) $1.28 – $1.74
Budapest, Hungary (tram, bus, metro) $1.28 – $2.32
Athens, Greece (tram, bus, metro) $1.37
Madrid, Spain (metro, bus) $1.37
Monaco, Monaco (bus) $1.37
Rome, Italy (tram, bus, metro) $1.37
Tallinn, Estonia (bus, tram, trolley) $1.39 – $1.74
Dubrovnik, Croatia (bus) $1.48 – $1.85
Los Angeles, USA (bus, metro) $1.50
Chicago, USA (metro, bus) $1.54 - $1.73
Dublin, Ireland (tram, bus) $1.58 – $2.47
Nice, France (bus) $1.58
Tel Aviv, Israel (bus) $1.58
Washington DC, USA (metro) $1.60 – $5.00
Bruges, Belgium (bus) $1.64 - $2.74
Florence, Italy (bus) $1.64
Berlin, Germany (tram, bus, metro) $1.78 – $2.88
Zagreb, Croatia (bus, tram, train) $1.85
Barcelona, Spain (tram, bus, metro) $1.92
Tokyo, Japan (metro) $1.93 – $2.29
Edinburgh, Scotland (bus) $1.94
Sydney, Australia (metro, bus) $1.96 – $3.24
San Francisco, USA (tram, bus, metro) $2.00
Miami, USA (bus) $2.00
Honolulu, USA (bus) $2.25
New York City, USA (subway, bus) $2.25
Brussels, Belgium (metro, bus) $2.33 – $2.74
Paris, France (metro) $2.33
Galway, Ireland (bus) $2.47
Helsinki, Finland (tram, bus, metro) $2.47 – $3.42
Vancouver, Canada (skytrain, bus) $2.48
Reykjavik, Iceland (bus) $2.50
Stockholm, Sweden (tram, bus, metro) $2.61 – $8.70
Montreal, Canada (metro, bus) $2.72
London, England (tube, bus, tram: using Oystercard) $2.90 – $9.68
Toronto, Canada (subway, streetcar, bus) $2.97
Vienna, Austria (subway, tram, bus) $3.01
Munich, Germany (tram, bus, metro, subway) $3.29 – $6.58
Amsterdam, Netherlands (tram, bus, metro) $3.56
Melbourne, Australia (tram, bus) $3.63
Zurich, Switzerland (bus, tram, train) $4.08
Copenhagen, Denmark (metro, bus) $4.20
Oslo, Norway (tram, bus, metro, ferry) $4.34 – $6.68
Venice, Italy (water bus) $8.90
Notes on the above prices
- Where price ranges are indicated it usually means that shorter rides are cheaper than longer rides, but in some cases it means a subway might be cheaper than a bus or vice versa.
- All of the above prices are walk-up fares that a tourist would pay, though many cities offer small discounts to those who buy passes in advance or in bulk.
- For London in particular the Oystercard (prepaid magnetic card) price was used because the walk-up price of £4 (US$6.43) for even the shortest tube ride is so high that only a fool skips getting a card.
- In a few cities, most notably Auckland, Budapest, and Prague, the low price is only for very short rides, so the higher price is more common.
- In some cities, particularly in Asia, there are informal public transportation systems, or systems that virtually no tourists ever take, and those were mostly left off the list. For example, Bangkok also has local non-aircon buses that are cheaper than the Skytrain and subway, but it’s extremely rare to see any tourists aboard.
The curious case of Caracas
Most of the cities on the list above have public transportation prices that more or less reflect the cost of visiting, but Caracas is an exception. Venezuela’s largely-disastrous attempts at planning its economy have contributed to Caracas being weirdly expensive for tourists, with the few international-standard hotels being among the most expensive in South America.
However, if keeping the working class from rioting is very high on the priority list then using petro-dollars to keep public transportation nearly free can be a worthwhile strategy. The modern underground system there has a flat fare equaling about US$0.12, while buses are about US$0.28.
Most travelers can cut prices about in half by changing dollars into local currency on the black market (so the metro would only be US$0.06 cents per ride), but even then other things are expensive compared to other large cities in the region.
The cheapest public transportation system in the world
Even though we concentrate mostly on popular tourist cities, seeing the Caracas situation made us wonder about Pyongyang, North Korea, and it turned out to be very interesting. Any visitor to the country will be chaperoned by a local guide at all times, and some tours do include a 1-stop ride on the Pyongyang metro, but otherwise the 17-station system is closed to all tourists.
If you were able to ride the Pyongyang Metro on your own you’d only be paying 5 KP₩, which is just under US$0.03 per ride. Quite a bargain for those lucky enough to live nearby, and certainly the cheapest metro system in the world.