Friday, May 25, 2012

My cost of living in the United Kingdom- Transport

With Yorkshire not exactly being a bustling metropolis, public transport is sketchy and not to mention expensive. I shall cover 3 aspects in this post, namely, short distance public transport (within the W Yorkshire county), long distance trips cross country and private transport (i.e. cars and taxis)

Short Distance Public Transport
Now, this is one thing that is extremely expensive in the UK. As people will already know, the London Underground costs 2 pounds per trip within zone 1-2, which is to say about a 16km radius around central London.
As for West Yorkshire, buses and trains do not use the oyster card (which is like the EZ Link card). The "technology" is still pretty backward.
For example, the West Yorkshire buses still use printed paper tickets and you pay to the driver. The driver can give change which makes the queue at certain city centre stops get quite long. Also, the trains still have train conductors who (depending on their mood) chirpily or grumpily shout out "tickets please!"

A sample fare is this:
A trip spanning 5 bus stops or less: 1 pound
A trip anywhere in Leeds Metro area: 2 pounds
A trip anywhere in West Yorkshire (Bradford, Leeds, Halifax etc): 2.80 peak, 2.50 off peak
Unlimited number of trips within West Yorkshire: 4.60 peak 3.80 off peak
5 person ticket after 9.30AM everyday within West Yorkshire: 7.80 (probably the only ticket that is cheaper than Singapore)

As you can see, this is way more expensive than Singapore.

Also, Metro Trains are expensive around the county. When I had to go to a General Practice for lessons once a week on Tuesdays, I had to pay GBP4.50 return for a short hop of only 16km. That would not cost more than S$4 in Singapore. Moreover, the trains do breakdown but people don't have the same hoohaa as they do in Singapore, they just get on with it and take the next train.

Long Distance Cross Country Trips
Ironically, this can and frequently is cheaper than Metro services. For example, I once paid 11 pounds for a return trip to London (330km; the same distance from Singapore to KL). In Singapore, you'd pay S$35 for a single to KL. However, the normal price is usually 15 pounds for that return trip.

I also paid 20 pounds for a return train trip to London once. But most of the time that trip will cost you 25 pounds. 

Fares are generally very very cheap if you book early; and not that expensive even if you don't (if you're willing to take a coach and not train).

Generally about 7 pounds single if you're travelling 300-400km, 15 pounds single >600km (e.g. London to Edinburgh).

Private Transport

Taxis in Leeds can be comparable to Singapore after factoring all the surcharges in the latter.
In Leeds, the taxi system is competitive. However, the cars can vary wildly, from Skoda Octavias to even BMW 5 series. Prices are simple. No bewildering surcharges and you just pay what is on the meter. No tipping required. Also, the system is alot more efficient; for private hire "call to book" taxis are cheaper than flagging down "hackney carriages". This is more logical than the system in Singapore i think, the drivers don't have to waste fuel driving around and the passenger has the peace of mind knowing a taxi is coming. You never have to wait more than 15m for a taxi even at peak hours. No charge for prebooking a taxi hours in advance too!

Taxis generally charge as such:
2.70 pounds for the first 1 mile. (1.6km)
10 pence per subsequent one tenth of a mile (160m). Every 1 mile, extra 10p charge. (means 1 mile costs 1.10 pounds)

Compare that with Singapore:
$3.20 for first 1km
20c for subsequent 335m
variety of surcharges

Of course, Singapore taxis are still cheaper. But I dont have to travel more than 2 miles normally, whether I am going to school, doing grocery shopping or going to the movies.

Next, Cars.

Cars are so much cheaper than Singapore. For example, a BMW 5 series/Mercedes Benz E200 costs 30,000pounds. Compare that to what, S$250,000? A Skoda Octavia (roughly equivalent to a Toyota Corolla Altis in Singapore) costs 15,000 pounds. I can also get a second hand Ford Mondeo 2.0 Diesel with 160,000km for 1.5 grand.

Most cars here are also diesel except for the Japanese cars. That's probably the reason why Japanese cars like Toyota and Nissan are not popular here. Also, the Japanese cars here cost around the same as the European marques like Vauxhall (Opel), Skoda, Ford (american) etc.

Insurance is quite expensive I think. I'm not sure how much it costs in Singapore but I remember my dad is paying S$9xx with 50% NCB. My friend's dad is paying something like 600 pounds with ?max NCB for a Renault 407. For me, the insurance quote is shockingly high at 3500pounds per annum for a 2005 Ford Mondeo 2.0 diesel.This is the reason why I did not buy a car.

Fuel is also expensive. Petrol is at 1.33 pounds per litre and ULS Diesel is at 1.39 pounds per litre. Even though Diesel can do about 30% more than an equivalent Petrol car, the fuel cost per litre is still more expensive than a petrol car in Singapore.

Parking generally is free except in the city centre where it is 1 pound an hour. So, still quite cheap.

Thus, you can see that transport is more expensive in the UK than Singapore (except cars).


  1. I think Singapore must be the most expensive place in the world to buy a car...

    I guess in Yorkshire, the main cost of having a car is the running costs - like petrol, insurance, etc.

    In Athens cars are affordable. 10,000 euros you can buy a small car. But once the government raised the price of petrol to collect more taxes, all of sudden, many ditch their cars to ride the metro.

    Interesting Yorkshire still have bus conductors!

  2. HI SMOL,

    yup, what you said is true. I wouldn't want to know how the situation is like in Athens with 25% unemployment now! crazy!

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