The first days of 2012 were opened by something very unpleasant for British commuters: a 6% price hike average, which even reached up to 11% on some routes, making London the most expensive place to commute in the world.In fact, the £3.60 that a London commuter needs to pay nowadays for a Zone 1-4 single journey is more than double the cost of similar rides in cities such as Milan, where the price is at £1.29; Paris, £1.46; and New York, at £1.56.In Berlin, a Zone 1-4 card costs only £5.84. In London, it’s almost twice that price, at £10.60. It’s pure torture to look at the prices of the same card in Rome (£3.44) or in Los Angeles (£3.12).Then as if to rub salt on an open wound, the first days of the fare hike also coincided with some line disruptions due to high winds, which means that after laying out a greater amount of cash for their ride, people were still late for work.In fact, this is one of the greatest criticisms on the transport sector: that despite the rising costs of fares, there seems to be no improvement in the service, to at least sweeten the deal somehow. Transport union RMT’s general secretary Bob Crow describes the trains as “creaking and overcrowded cattle trucks” that the public now has to “pay through the nose” to ride on.Labour leader Ed Miliband is putting the blame on “the Tory-led government and London’s Tory mayor.” Certainly, no matter how you look at it, this development will not help Mayor Boris Johnson’s popularity. Protesters are calling the new fares a stealth tax, noting that the average person nowadays needs to work up to six weeks a year just to pay for his or her commute to work.Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has stated that the cost of public transport will play no small part in his election campaign in May to become London’s new mayor. Part of his stated agenda is to cut bus prices by 11% and Tube prices by 7%.Until that day comes, however, commuters will have to live with the result of the government’s reversing the fare cap enforced by the last Labour government, which had limited price hikes to just 1% above inflation.And unfortunately, the string of bad news continues. Maria Eagle, the shadow transport secretary, revealed that prices are still set to climb even further in the coming years. “The government has told the train companies they can increase fares by up to a staggering 13% in 2013 and 2014,” Eagle said.For the average Brit who has been having to deal with job losses, wage cuts, and lower standards of living in the past years, this is absolutely scandalous.On the bright side compared to train and bus fares travelling in a London minicab is much more affordable now.