11:51 AM ET
11:51 AM ET
One chart shows which cities do best when it comes to biking, walking, or taking public transit to work.
When it comes to public transit, the cities of the European Union are generally viewed as success stories. In the union’s larger cities, an average of 49 percent of people use transit to get to and from work. But as recent figures published by Eurostat reveal, ridership numbers vary greatly from city to city—and the same goes for people who drive, walk, or cycle to work. Recent news from Copenhagen suggesting a decline in bike commuting shows that locals’ preferred modes of transit are always subject to change. Indeed, looking more closely at the stats reveals some interesting, sometimes surprising features of Europe’s urban transit map.
So where is public transit a popular choice for Europe’s commuters? The map below provides some pointers.
This map shows that levels of public transit commuting are higher in Paris and Madrid than in London or Berlin. Eurostat
Perhaps what’s most striking here is how much higher the levels of public transit commuting are in capital cities than in regional cities. This might seem an obvious phenomenon—generally less populous second-tier cities seem less likely to have the sort of snarled up roads that propel commuters towards public transit. Still, some capitals post a relatively poor showing, with less than 30 percent of commuters using public transit in Lisbon, Dublin, Vilnius, and Riga.
Some outliers suggest that investment, not size, is the key issue. Modestly sized Zurich (whose population is just over 400,000) shows public transit commuting rates of over 60 percent, considerably higher than the 40 to 50 percent share for far larger Rome (population 2.88 million). And the city with the highest rate of public transit commuting—Vienna, at 74 percent of all commuters—isn’t even in Europe’s top 20 metro areas. The map implies, without explicitly confirming, that it is a combination of wealth and closeness to power that gets a city endowed with a public transit system good enough to attract large majorities of workers to use them for their daily commutes.
The map above nonetheless remains a blunt instrument. The Eurostar-produced table below gives a far clearer, more nuanced picture of which cities are doing well in which area. It shows commuter journeys divided by mode—note that respondents were allowed to choose more than one mode, so people who walked a distance, then took a subway, might count twice. The table reveals three clear trends.