What is the daily cost of urban mobility?

Urban mobility is a major issue for modern cities around the world. Across all spaces in large urban areas, city dwellers must travel daily to get to work, school, the doctor, shopping and other activities. However, mobility, through these multiple urban trips, comes at a significant cost, whether in terms of time, money or environmental impact. On this page, we will examine the different costs of daily mobility in urban areas.

What are the different costs of urban mobility, and what actions and innovations in terms of transport can we use for sustainable mobility in our major cities in metropolitan France and elsewhere?

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The different types of mobility costs

A report has highlighted that the average time spent in public transport in metropolitan France (excluding Île-de-France) is 1h19 per day per person. This includes an average of 36 kilometers for 4.4 trips. Another report also reveals that the average expenditure for travel in France is 204 € per month. So what are the different costs of transport?

The financial cost of urban mobility

The financial cost of urban mobility can be considerable for city residents. The public transport system, cabs, cars and bicycles are all expensive forms of transport. The cost of public transportation varies by city and type of ticket, but it can be a significant part of a family's monthly budget.

Cabs and ride-sharing services can be more expensive than public transportation, but they can be a convenient option for one-time or emergency trips.

Personal cars are often the most expensive form of transportation due to the initial cost of purchase or lease, insurance, fuel, maintenance and repairs. In addition, rising gas prices and stricter roadworthiness requirements are putting an increasing strain on motorists' wallets. The accessibility to the use of the car becomes more and more complex and its daily use poses a problem whether it is in terms of pollution or budget.

Bicycles are frequently seen as a low-cost transportation option, but costs can add up if cyclists need to buy replacement parts or make frequent repairs. In addition, costs can vary depending on weather conditions, clothing and accessories needed for safe cycling.

The time cost of urban mobility

Time is a precious resource for urban residents. Traffic congestion, transit delays, cab wait times, and carpooling services can all result in significant time loss for people on the move. Time lost to travel can impact quality of life, work-life balance, and mental health.

The environmental cost of urban mobility

Urban mobility also has a significant environmental cost. Cars, buses and trucks emit greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, as well as air pollutants that affect air quality and human health. Exhaust emissions can similarly lead to an increase in respiratory diseases, allergies and cancers.

Non-motorized means of transportation, such as bicycles and walking, are often considered more sustainable options, as they do not produce direct emissions and therefore reduce pollution and congestion in urban spaces. However, the production and maintenance of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure also has an environmental impact, as does public transport powered by non-renewable energy sources.

The Mobility Law: a leading example of sustainable mobility in France

The research project for environmentally friendly mobility through sustainable mobility has become a very important research axis in France. This project has led to the creation of the Mobility Orientation Law, a strong action from France allowing through an important funding (13.4 million€ between 2017 and 2022) a concrete action on many aspects: decrease of pollution and congestion in urban areas, facilitation of accessibility and use of public transport network services, etc.

The French mobility law aims to promote more sustainable mobility in France, notably by encouraging intermodality and limiting vehicle speeds. This law also aims to foster innovation in the field of transportation by collecting and using data to support sustainable mobility projects. Intermodality, i.e. the combination of different modes of transport, is at the heart of this law to propose more efficient and sustainable transport solutions. The French mobility law is therefore a tool to encourage a shift towards more environmentally friendly and efficient modes of transport in the context of current environmental challenges. This law is part of the "smart cities" concept, which aims at developing policies to limit congestion in cities and use technological innovations.

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What means of transportation are available to get around the city?

Public transport

Tramway, bus, RER. The transport offer of public services is becoming more and more extensive throughout the urban space in the metropolis, notably thanks to the increase in the share allocated to funding, allowing for increasingly fluid accessibility in urban areas on a daily basis, whether for work or for leisure, for example. But what means of transportation do we have today?

Alternative transport to take care of the planet

Bicycle, rollerblade, skateboard, there is something for everyone and the use of these modes of transport is good for the planet as well as for the wallet.

Individual vehicles

These are cars or scooters.


Uber, Bolt, Volt and cabs... There are now many applications offering this type of service.

In summary, many modes of transportation exist in the metropolis, and in the city intermodality is extremely common, it is increasingly rare to use only one means of travel whether for a question of speed or cost.

What are the solutions to limit the costs of mobility?

There are several solutions to reduce the cost of urban mobility. Some of them focus on reducing the share allocated to monthly financing, while others aim at reducing time or environmental costs. Here are some of the most effective ways to think about it:

  • Favoring transit: cities can improve the efficiency and quality of their transit systems to make travel faster and less expensive for users. This can include expanding transit systems, increasing the frequency of service, and implementing reduced fares for low-income groups. Increasing various services also makes intermodality possible; it is possible to use park-and-ride lots to continue by transit;
  • encouraging non-motorized transport: cities can invest in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, such as bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks. This can encourage users to choose less expensive and more sustainable modes of transport;
  • Promote carpooling: Cities, especially in areas of high congestion, can encourage carpooling by establishing carpooling programs and providing incentives for users. This can help reduce the number of cars on the road, which in turn can reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Investing in sustainable technologies: Cities can invest in sustainable technologies for their transit systems, such as electric or hydrogen vehicles. This will potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel costs;
  • Incentive policies: cities can put in place incentive policies to encourage businesses to offer benefits for sustainable travel, such as subsidies for public transport or discounts for employees who use sustainable modes of transport.

In conclusion, urban mobility has a significant cost in terms of time, money and environmental impact. However, cities can adopt effective solutions to reduce these costs and improve the quality of life for their residents. Solutions include improving public transportation, encouraging non-motorized transportation, promoting carpooling, investing in sustainable technologies, and implementing incentive policies. It is also up to us, as users, to choose more environmentally friendly modes of transportation. The electric bicycle, for example, seems to be a solution to reduce our expenses and save time by avoiding traffic jams .

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