Is Venice really the world’s priciest commuter city?

A report compiled by B2B supplier Expert Market has labelled Venice the "worst offender" when it comes to extortionate public transport costs.

Is Venice really the world’s priciest commuter city?
One of the city's water buses. Photo: Luis Villa del Campo

The report compared the cost of commuting in over 50 cities worldwide, giving Venice the dubious honour of being named the world's most expensive city for commuting.

It calculated that Venetians spend a whopping 26 percent of their wages each months on commuting  – a much higher figure than in other cities: commuters in New York pay just four percent.

The study calculated the cost of commuting as a percentage of monthly salaries using 2015 income data from Numbeo and fares of a one-day public transport pass. 

There's no denying that tourist haven Venice takes advantage of its beauty spot status by charging premium prices for hotels or drinks in the city centre, something which risks pricing out the locals.

Karoline Steckley, an American expat living in Trieste, said the city was quickly becoming a commuter town for Venice.

“I know people who commute to Venice – it is a 1.5-hour train ride from Trieste. They tend to concentrate their work week into three days or so in Venice and the rest from home,” she said.

However, Steckley added that plenty of people still managed to live in Venice. “It can be done either way,” she added.

One blogger living in Venice told The Local: “Venetian public transportation is very expensive. A one way ticket on a public water boat (vaporetto) has gone up this year to €7.50 euro.”

“Venetians walk a lot!” She laughed but also pointed out that locals can make use of a €37 monthly pass, allowing unlimited use of the vaporetti and some local buses and trams.

When The Local contacted Hello Venice, the city’s public transport provider, they explained that the €20 daily fare used in Expert Market's calculations was “not for locals”, and that a different travel card, the Venezia Unica pass, is available for “frequent users” of the city's public transport and offers different monthly subscriptions, starting at €37.

An annual pass can be purchased for just €370, making the cost per day just over €1. Furthermore, elderly residents can benefit from a free or discounted annual travel card, depending on their income. 

With the Venezia Unica pass, a single journey is just €1.50, less than a quarter of the €7.50 it costs for those visiting the city. This would mean that commuters making a return journey each day using the pass would spend closer to a much more reasonable three percent of the average salary.

The Local was told that the tourist passes offer additional benefits such as discounted entry to museums – which can save you a fortune if you're visiting.

The Venezia Unica card can be used over a five-year period and costs €10 for Venice residents, €20 for those in the Veneto region, and €50 for non-locals.  If you're visiting the beautiful city, it could be a worthwhile investment.

Whatever you do, avoid one way tickets and day passes, or Venice really is an incredibly expensive commuter city.

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Italy to pay €57m compensation over Venice cruise ship ban

The Italian government announced on Friday it would pay 57.5 million euros in compensation to cruise companies affected by the decision to ban large ships from Venice's fragile lagoon.

A cruise ship in St Mark's Basin, Venice.
The decision to limit cruise ship access to the Venice lagoon has come at a cost. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The new rules, which took effect in August, followed years of warnings that the giant floating hotels risked causing irreparable damage to the lagoon city, a UNESCO world heritage site.

READ ALSO: Venice bans large cruise ships from centre after Unesco threat of ‘endangered’ status

Some 30 million euros has been allocated for 2021 for shipping companies who incurred costs in “rescheduling routes and refunding passengers who cancelled trips”, the infrastructure ministry said in a statement.

A further 27.5 million euros – five million this year and the rest in 2022 – was allocated for the terminal operator and related companies, it said.

The decision to ban large cruise ships from the centre of Venice in July came just days before a meeting of the UN’s cultural organisation Unesco, which had proposed adding Venice to a list of endangered heritage sites over inaction on cruise ships.

READ ALSO: Is Venice really banning cruise ships from its lagoon?

Under the government’s plan, cruise ships will not be banned from Venice altogether but the biggest vessels will no longer be able to pass through St Mark’s Basin, St Mark’s Canal or the Giudecca Canal. Instead, they’ll be diverted to the industrial port at Marghera.

But critics of the plan point out that Marghera – which is on the mainland, as opposed to the passenger terminal located in the islands – is still within the Venice lagoon.

Some aspects of the plan remain unclear, as infrastructure at Marghera is still being built. Meanwhile, smaller cruise liners are still allowed through St Mark’s and the Giudecca canals.

Cruise ships provide a huge economic boost to Venice, but activists and residents say the ships contribute to problems caused by ‘overtourism’ and cause large waves that undermine the city’s foundations and harm the fragile ecosystem of its lagoon.