In The UK, Driving May Soon Be Cheaper Than Public Transport


Car ownership has never been cheap, and with cars only getting more and more expensive, one would think that public transportation might represent an enormous cost savings over cars. But in the UK at least, the popularity of public transportation, combined with ever-increasing train and tube fares, has led to commuting by car to be cheaper than train, at least in some areas.

Like most countries, the new year brought higher fares for trains in the UK, with a the average train ticket seeing a 4.2% price hike after January 1st, reports Some areas saw train fares rise as much as 6.16% compared with just a month ago. This is the 10th year running that train fares have gone up, and the average UK train rider now spends £2,191 riding the train.

Commuters who travel by car, meanwhile, spend significantly less on fuel used to go to work however, especially since a new fuel tax was recently scrapped. The average UK commuter can expect to spend £1,441 per year on gasoline, and slightly less on diesel (due to the better fuel economy of diesel cars). Of course, fuel is just one of the many hidden costs associated with owning a car, as insurance, maintenance, and car taxes all add up pretty quickly too. So public transportation still probably holds an overall cost advantage when all is said and done.

Yet a car offers a level of personal mobility that trains do not. And as more people opt for public transportation over cars, there could come a day when car ownership costs are truly on par with train, buses, or other public options. It is certainly something worth keeping in mind.

Source: | Image: kenjonbro

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Trains have always been expensive in the UK. I used to use the long distance National Express coaches most of the time because they were between 50% and 75% of the cost of a train trip. I would splurge on certain trips, like Exeter to Penzance, because if the scenery, but usually I was on the motorways for the savings.
    When I just tried to book that trip using online schedulers, National Express was 32 quid and BritRail was 42. But BritRail was 3.25 hours and the coach was 4.5 hours.

    • Christopher DeMorro


      When I visited England a few years ago, I was shocked how much a train ride cost, especially since I was forced sot sit in the cabin between cars since our train was oversold, and more than two hours late. Sitting on a floor for eight hours trying to read War & Peace was a most unpleasant experience, and from then on our I stuck to taking the bus…at least then I was guaranteed a seat!

  • ziv

    Silly anecdotal story warning…
    I rode a train in Devon that actually still had the compartments that each had doors that opened out to the platform. No going to the end (or center) of the car to get on or off, you just opened the door to the compartment that looked emptiest and got in. Very cool old train. I have to imagine that it has been retired now, but to see and ride on that train in 1994 was a treat.

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