Is it expensive to be poor? Public transport in Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


One of the reasons to subsidise public transport is to improve the mobility of low-income groups by providing affordable public transport; however, the literature describes a situation whereby those with a low income are unable to afford the cheapest tickets per trip, i.e. travelcards, as they usually require a considerable up-front cost. In this study, we use a large dataset from the Swedish National Travel Survey to investigate whether, and if so how, income explains monthly travelcard possession among individuals for whom this would have been the least expensive option. We find a robust positive relationship between income and travelcard possession among low-income earners, indicating that those with a low income pay more to use public transport than more affluent individuals. As the accessibility of low-income groups is an important motivation for public transport subsidies, the findings from this study have important policy implications.


External organisations
  • Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute
  • K2–The Swedish Knowledge Centre for Public Transport
  • Toulouse 1 University Capitole
  • WSP Sverige AB
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Transport Systems and Logistics


  • Fares, Income, Liquidity constraints, Public transport
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020 Oct 23
Publication categoryResearch