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London Transport Is The Most Expensive In The World

Did you know that flying to another country from London is cheaper than reaching the airport?

Emma Seiko, 24, a creative writing graduate from Brunel University London, travelled to Dublin in May. She bought her tickets from a notorious low cost airline, paying around £30 for a return ticket. The plane left from the airport of London Stansted, while Emma at the time lived in Uxbridge, in West London.

The route included travelling on the Metropolitan Line from Uxbridge Station to London Liverpool Street, which costs an average of £5.1 (single fare for zone 1-6): £6.30 for a single ticket paid in cash at the station, £5.50 paid using a contactless card during peak times or £3.50 during off peak times.

Having travelled at 10pm in the outbound journey and at a peak time on her way back, she spent around £9 for her journey. 

The train ticket from London Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport is £21.90 (or £34.60 as a return journey). With a railcard 16-25 discount, it amounts to an average of £20 return. The bus fares cost around the same prices.

In conclusion, the total cost of Emma’s journey from her house to the airport was more expensive than the cost of plane tickets itself. It means that it is cheaper to travel from London to another country than within London.

It’s normal that London, being 607 square miles big, and with more than 8 million people living and 30 million visiting each year, needs a good and vast transport system, but how much does it actually cost, compared to other capitals?

London counts 272 stations and 11 lines reaching its suburbs and beyond. The first line ever built was none other than the Metropolitan Railway between Paddingdon and Farringdon, opened in 1863, marking it as the first underground railway in the UK and in the world.

In a study carried out by Transport for London in March 2023, London tube was found to have also the most expensive fares of any metro in the world. In the study, TfL compared the price paid by passengers per kilometre travelled in 39 global cities, and London was found to have the highest. The average Tube fare was about 29p per kilometre, more than double the average of world cities.

In the same month, Mayor Kahn increased Tube and bus fares by 5.9%, the highest increase in over ten years.

In the financial year 2022/23, around 1.1 billion passenger journeys were made, and a revenue of 4.3 billion British pounds was gathered from all TfL services.

In the following infographic, we have carried out a comparative sample with the main European capitals (Paris, Rome, Madrid, Berlin), New York and London.

We explored three variables: single, weekly and monthly fare, taking into consideration the fare which covered all the zones of the considered cities. In the case of London, we consider the fares covering zone 1-9, but other fares will be explored later.



Single fare



















New York









As shown, Paris has the lowest single journey fare, Rome counts the lowest for the weekly and monthly fare, while London has the highest. 

The London fare we considered for the graphic covers the route from zone 1 to zone 9 buying a paper ticket at the station. It is important to have in mind the other prices as well, as reported in the following table.



Single (cash)

Contactless Peak

Contactless Off Peak

Zone 1




Zone 1-2




Zone 1-3




Zone 1-4




Zone 1-5




Zone 1-6




Zone 1-7




Zone 1-8




Zone 1-9





Ticket prices for the London tube differ based on the distance of the travelled route, the time of the day (peak or off peak) and the method of paying, considering that by using a contactless or an oyster card, the fare will cost 2.5 times less than a paper ticket.

Even the lowest TfL fare, covering only zone 1, paying contactless in off peak times (£2.50), is almost twice as expensive as the all-zones fare in Rome, Paris, Madrid and New York.

After this analysis, it isn’t surprising that Emma's flight to Dublin was cheaper than her journey to the airport.

As a result, if London had the possibility to commute to work by plane, it would probably be less expensive than TfL.

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