Munich best for public transport in Europe: Survey

Munich has Europe's best public transport, according to a new study published Tuesday that finds commuters and visitors in 22 other cities face a range of quality in public information, travel times and charges.

The survey of 23 European cities found nine offering only "acceptable" bus, streetcar and metro services and said more must be done to make public transport an attractive alternative to driving a car into a city.

The study by EuroTest, a group of automobile clubs in 15 nations led by Germany's ADAC, rated local public transport on travel time, information, ease of transfer, costs, operating hours and access to bike and car parking.

Of the cities surveyed, only Munich rated "very good" because of fast connections, "plenty of information at stops and in vehicles" and an "extremely impressive" web site.

The survey said public transit is "good" in 11 cities -- Helsinki, Vienna, Prague, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Leipzig, Cologne, Rome and Bern.

However, their evaluation shows weak points. While Rome has cheap public transit and good transfers, it informs travelers very poorly. And taking a bus in Frankfurt is relatively expensive.

The study rated public transportation as only "acceptable" in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Oslo, Lisbon, Madrid, London and Budapest.

A "very poor" grade went to Zagreb -- where downtown street cars average only 13 kilometers (nine miles) per hour -- and to Ljubljana. Both are now revamping their transit systems.

The survey also found that:

- Only a third of public transit stops in all 23 cities accommodate the blind and only a fifth have wheelchair access.

- Only one out of three transit networks use "smart cards" that charge based on distance traveled. One example to follow: Amsterdam's chip cards can be used on public transport across the Netherlands.

- Despite London's "congestion charge" for cars, the city ranks only 20th out of 23 cities tested. It has Europe's priciest public transportation system.

- Prague has Europe's cheapest: a monthly pass costs only euro20. The city also offers a free phone hotline in three languages.