UK’s Most Expensive Cities for Commuters

6 min read
  • Bristol workers get the worst deal on public transport, paying £254.40 more than those who drive
  • Brits who train to work spend almost a quarter of their salary on commuting costs
  • The national average to train into work costs £91.30 more than those who drive

With grievances around poor rail service commonplace, such as cancellations, delays and strikes, it’s understandable many would assume commuting via public transport is the more budget-friendly option compared to driving. However, this is far from the truth.

And with rail fares increasing by 4.9 percent at the beginning of March, the gap in expenses between those who opt for train travel and those who drive to work has only increased.

In light of this, Good Travel Management has delved into the cost dynamics of commuting* to the UK’s major cities to find out how much it’s really costing employees to get to work.

On average, it costs Brits £421.42 to commute to work via car each month, including a coffee, lunch, the cost of petrol and all-day parking. By comparison, rail commuters can expect to pay £91.30 more each month, averaging £512.72 per month on commuting costs, including the price of a train return ticket and two inner-city buses, on top of the cost of coffee and lunch. That’s the equivalent of almost a quarter of the average worker’s salary (£34,900 pre-tax) spent on getting to work via public transport.  

Unsurprisingly, London is the city with the most expensive commute, with workers paying £656.40 per month on average to drive to the office. A big portion of this steep cost comes from London’s expensive parking tariffs at an average cost of £15 per day, the highest of anywhere in the UK. London workers also pay the most for petrol, costing on average £4.08 per day, as well as having the most expensive cup of coffee (£3.56) and lunch (£10.18).

While these costs may be higher than those in other parts of the UK, they still represent a favourable option when compared to the expenses incurred by commuters who rely on public transport. Train commuters can anticipate monthly expenditures of £821.40, marking a £165 increase compared to the costs borne by drivers.

However, Bristol workers are found to get the worst deal on their commuting costs, taking second place as the city with the most expensive commute via public transport at £718.40 per month. This is thanks to Bristol’s substantial train ticket costs, averaging £20.20 per day for commuters in nearby commuter towns.

However, those who drive to work spend just £464 per month on average, a saving of £254.40. Bristolians may have the second-highest price for fuel in the UK (£2.48 per day on average), but cheaper parking helps to bring down the cost, at just £6 for all-day parking.

Brighton and Hove (£574.60), Manchester (£573) and Belfast (£561.80) complete the top five cities with the most expensive public transport commutes.

Interestingly, only commuters in Scotland’s main hubs, Glasgow and Edinburgh, save money by using public transport, with savings of £31.40 and £61.60 respectively compared to those who drive to work. ScotRail scrapped its peak-time rail fares at the latter end of last year in an effort to encourage more commuters to ditch the car, with some commuters seeing their daily commuting costs halving. But with fares set to increase by 8.7 percent from April, commuters can anticipate their commuting expenses to climb once more.

Laura Busby, Commercial Director at Good Travel Management, commented on the findings:

Whether you’re a business traveller or a leisure commuter, understanding the factors that influence travel prices like distance, ticket types and current petrol and parking rates empowers you to make more economical choices.

“By doing so, travellers can ensure that their journeys are not only cost-effective but also more enjoyable, adding extra value to their travel experiences.

“Make sure you’re taking advantage of any offers to help make costs more manageable, such as railcards and season tickets. Booking in advance is another great way to save money, with passengers able to save up to 44 percent when purchasing train tickets ahead of time.”


All data was captured in January 2024. Train and parking prices were updated in March 2024. 

City Population

We used to work out which were the 20 biggest cities in the UK, which uses 2021 census data.  

Average Petrol Prices

Petrol prices were calculated by using the average time travelled by a driving commuter from these sources: 

We then calculated the distance assuming the driver was travelling an average of 30mph during this commute time.  

We used to find the five cheapest petrol stations and averaged the cost per litre of unleaded petrol.  

Finally, we processed the driving distance and petrol price per litre via .  

We used a Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost active 5 door as the car, which has a MPG of 50.40.  

Costs of a Coffee & Lunch

We used crowd-sourced data from for the cost of a coffee and lunch (McMeal or equivalent).  

Cost of Parking

We searched for city centre parking on two weeks in advance to account for any places that get booked early. We used the cheapest price for parking from 8am to 6pm in a central location.  

Train Season Tickets/Commuter Towns

To find typical commuter towns for each city we primarily used blogs from such as to find a seed list. 

We then validated the first three towns that featured a train station and were not suburban areas of the city itself. In some instances, we used desktop research and other sources including: 

We then put each town and city into to get the price for a return ticket on the following working day that would get into the city before 9am.  

Season tickets and railcards might enable commuters to save more money if they can plan their travel in advance.  

Bus Costs

Inner-city bus costs were sourced using official city websites. We used the price of x2 singles to be consistent across all cities, though some cities might also offer daily discounts and/or season passes.  

Overall Costs

Total costs for drivers included:

  • x1 coffee per day
  • x1 lunch per day
  • x1Cost of petrol- there and back
  • Cost of parking all day)

Total costs for public transport included:

  • x1 coffee per day
  • x1 lunch per day
  • x2 inner city bus rides
  • Cost of a peak return ticket bought the day before