For many aspiring expats, the most important things to consider when moving to a new country are often the cost of living and finances, rather than options for local public transport. That being said, many expats are now choosing to live more sustainably when fleeing to a new country, so getting around using eco-friendly public transport is equally important.
With the proliferation of companies like Lime and Bolt, in many cities, it’s easier than ever to rent an electric scooter to help reduce emissions in the area and avoid city traffic. With this in mind, we want to crown the best cities for public transport options in the world, investigating which countries are leading the way with their transportation, from metro routes to rentable bikes, e-scooters and electric vehicles.
For those thinking about becoming a digital nomad and are considering travelling across the world using metro systems, it is important to consider international health insurance.
1/ Paris, France
Public Transport Score: 10 out of 10
The romantic city of Paris achieved top marks in our global transport index, with a score of 10 out of 10. According to 2022 data from Statista, almost 70% of residents living in the French capital use Metro, buses or suburban trains to commute to work, compared to 40.7 percent of employees in Lyon, the third most populous city in France.
Paris has low public transport costs with the average ticket costing just £1.85, which is relatively inexpensive considering the cost of living in the city is among the highest in the world.
Paris’ numerous transport options make travelling around the city easy and accessible. There are ten electric scooter schemes available in Paris, including; Lime, Bird, Bot, Wind, Tier, Flash, Hive, Voi, Dott and Uber’s new Jump. The schemes are recent, with Lime being the first to appear in 2018. The innovative new e-scooters are free-floating, meaning tourists can hire them and leave them anywhere without needing a docking station.
2/ Stockholm, Sweden
Public Transport Score: 9.41 out of 10
Ranking in second place is the beautiful Swedish city of Stockholm. The city is one of Europe’s most environmentally friendly, thanks to its public transport accessibility and abundance of electric vehicles. Stockholm prides itself on leading a Grow Smarter project, with hopes to be fossil-fuel-free by the year 2040.
Stockholm is a densely populated city and has among the most bus stops out of all our cities (303 per 100,000 people). The city also operates a high number of public transport vehicles (1,280 per million people), which makes most districts in the area easily accessible for both tourists and residents. Sweden has recently made developments in its electric mobility and as of 2022, it has 910 electric vehicles per 100,000 people.
3/ Hong Kong, China
Public Transport Score: 8.82 out of 10
Hong Kong came third, scoring 8.82 out of 10. The city’s affordable transport network operates a reliable rail line for its large population. Commuters in the city tend to use it every day, despite the fact it isn’t available 24/7 like in other cities.
Hong Kong scored well for its low public transport fares (£1.22 for a one-way ticket), as well as the number of buses operating in the city (1,767 per million people). Although Hong Kong has banned the use of e-scooters on carriageways, footpaths and cycle tracks, there are plenty of ways to get around, whether it’s by taxi, ferry, rail, bus or tram. Hong Kong surpassed any other city for its electric vehicles, with nearly 59,000 EVs per 100,000 people.
4/ New York City, United States
Public Transport Score: 8.24 out of 10
New York City, known fondly as the Big Apple, took fourth place in our ranking. New York scored most notably for its many metro routes, which were the highest on our list, with 28 running through the city. Living up to its nickname as the “City that Never Sleeps”, subway trains in New York run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For the cost of £2.20 ($2.75 in USD), you can use the system citywide and transfer to other subway lines as many times as you need. New York City also scored points for its bike shares available, with 25,247 bikes available at the time of writing.
5/ Oslo, Norway
Public Transport Score: 7.65 out of 10
Oslo, the capital of the Scandinavian country of Norway, scored fifth place in the ranking with a score of 7.65 out of 10. Oslo has among the highest costs for a one-way ticket (£2.99) just behind Stockholm, and the Oslo Metro currently has 5 lines running through the subway.
Norway has witnessed a significant increase in the sale of electric cars, but is miles behind Hong Kong, with 2,760 EVs per 100,000 people. In 2015, the Norwegian government’s initial goal of 50,000 electric cars to be on the roads was reached. Furthermore, the country is streaks ahead of other nations, as Norway waives import duties and car registration fees for electric vehicles.
Top 15 cities with the best public transport options in the world
Paris not only tops the list for having the best public transport options in the world, but it also ranks number 1 for having the most eco-friendly transport options.
1/ Paris, France
Eco-Friendly Transport Score: 10 out of 10
Paris also recorded the best score for its eco-friendly transport options, scoring an outstanding 10 out of 10. The top tourist destination constantly works to preserve the city and keep it ‘green’. Paris has a variety of non-motorised and clean transport, with almost 16,000 shared bikes available at the time of writing. France is also working hard to introduce more electric vehicles to its road (325 EVs per 100,000 people in 2022).
As of February 2023, one in four new passenger vehicles in France has a plug-in. The China-made Dacia Spring was February’s best-selling EV and the eighth-best-selling car overall in France.
2/ Stockholm, Sweden
Eco-Friendly Transport Score: 9.41 out of 10
Sweden’s capital city, Stockholm, ranked second place this time for its eco-friendly transport, with a score of 9.41 out of 10. Stockholm was awarded Europe’s first “green capital” by the EU Commission in 2010; thanks to its environmental considerations in policy, its cut to carbon emissions, and its objective to be fossil fuel free.
Stockholm scored high for its electric vehicles (910 per 100,000 people) and its ten e-scooter schemes allowing tourists to navigate the city more sustainably.
3/ Brussels, Belgium
Eco-Friendly Transport Score: 8.82 out of 10
The historical capital of Brussels is new to our top three, scoring third for the most eco-friendly cities for transport. Residents can explore the city by bike or on foot, and it boasts 3,657 shared bikes available at the time of writing.
Brussels’ hidden gardens and masses of green spaces make it a popular destination for sightseers. Belgium is increasing its electric vehicle adoption rate, with 23,000 EV sales in 2021, rising to 38,000 in 2022 (326 EVs per 100,000 people).
Top 15 cities with the most eco-friendly transport options in the world
The best city for average public transport costs
Average public transport cost: £0.12
The public transport network in Buenos Aires is efficient, and the buses, known as “colectivos” are often on schedule. The subway, known locally as “the subte” (short for “subterraneo”), is often used by commuting locals as it is quick, affordable and easy to navigate with maps. It is important to purchase a SUBE card, as you cannot use any public transport without it.
586 public transport stops per 100,000 people
Oslo has the most public transport stops when compared to its population, with 586 stops per 100,000 people. Thanks to Oslo’s excellent public transport system, Ruter, it is easy to navigate the city and plan your journey, whether you are commuting, travelling between attractions or exploring the city’s many museums.
The city with the highest number of public transport units per million people
1,806 public transport units per million people
Sydney, Australia had the highest number of public transport units, with 1,806 per million people. This indicator counts the number of vehicles registered to public transport operators, to provide regular public transport services in the metropolitan area. Sydney has an extensive system of buses, trains, metro rail, light rail and ferries.
The city with the highest number metro routes
New York City
28 metro routes
New York City has 28 metro routes operating in the city and is one of the biggest rapid transit systems in the world, with 472 stations and 394 km of routes across 1112 km of track.
The city with the most shared bikes available
New York City
25,247 shared bikes available
New York also excelled with its number of bikes available, and there were 25,247 available at the time of writing. Cycling is permitted on all main and local streets in the city, even when no designated routes are available. Exploring the city by bike is a great choice for tourists and locals alike, with its hundreds of miles of bike lanes, greenways and parks. It’s a great way to avoid the rush of public transport during commuter times.
The best city for E-scooter schemes
10 E-scooter schemes
Paris has an array of e-scooter schemes available, with ten electric scooter schemes operating in the city. Renting a scooter in Paris is as easy as touching a button. By downloading the app of your choice, and registering as a user, you can locate your nearest available scooter and scan its QR code to explore the city on two wheels.
58,754 electric vehicles per 100,000 people
Hong Kong has by far the most electric vehicles per 100,000 people, with almost 59,000 cars on China’s roads as of 2022. In 2021, the Hong Kong Finance Secretary chaired a Steering Committee on the Promotion of EVs (SPEV) with members drawn from various sectors. The measures included a strategy to promote the use of electric vehicles in Hong Kong, which would increase energy efficiency, environmental benefits and the creation of business opportunities. The SCPEV concluded its work by the end of September 2021.
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The list of cities was taken from CityTransit, as such the research considers a select number of global cities.
Each city’s price for a one-way ticket by public transport was taken from Numbeo. This data is correct as of 03/05/2023.
Every city’s public transport data was taken from CityTransit, which included; public transport stops per 100,000 people, fleet of public transport units per million people and the number of metro routes.
The number of shared bikes available was taken from Bike Share Map, which shows live information on bike availability. This data is correct as of 09/05/2023.
The number of electric vehicles per 100,000 people was taken from IEA’s Global EV Data Explorer with the latest data available for every country. The number of EV sales in every country was divided by its population and then multiplied by 100 to get the average number of EVs per 100,000 people.
By ranking each country on eight public transport factors, we were able to normalise their score for each factor, giving the countries a final public transport score out of 10.