Economic efficiency

Economic efficiency

Transport costs include internal costs, or costs paid by the users (fuel, parking places, taxes, travel cards, time, etc.) and external costs or costs paid by society through taxes (accidents, pollution, occupation of space, noise, etc.).

The internal costs may be direct or related to the journey undertaken (fuel, tolls, parking places, travel cards and time) or indirect and not related directly to the journey (loan repayments, taxes and insurance, etc.).

Car users pay internal costs, although they only associate the direct costs with their journeys. This makes their journey in a private vehicle seem less costly.

Public transport users collectively pay a part of the internal costs when they buy their tickets. The rest is subsidised by the government.

On the other hand, the external costs are paid for by society as a whole through taxes.

In Catalonia, according to studies by the Department of Regional Policy and Public Works (currently Territory and Sustainability) of the Catalan government, in 2001 the regional transport system generated total costs of over €48,000m, of which 88% were internal costs of the system and 9%  were external. The rest was split between public spending on infrastructures and costs deriving from traffic jam.

For the same year, external costs and traffic jam costs in Catalonia amounted to €4,744m of which 33% corresponded to accidents and around 24% to the impact of climate change.

Costs Public transport* Private vehicles
Direct operations 0.08 0.08
Indirect operations 0.04 0.22
Time 0.44 0.39
External factors 0.02 0.05
Totals 0.58 0.75
*Includes urban and interurban buses and Catalan government-controlled railway.
Source: Metropolitan Transport Authority (2004).
€/traveller and km including tax.

Mobility based on the most sustainable means reduces the external costs incurred. Private vehicles are the means of transport which generate most external costs per person travelling.

Taking into account the associated expenditure, using shared transport, bicycles or walking is much more economical than travelling by car.

More information (Spanish)