Madrid’s Metro: Is it really a bargain? (The vandals certainly don’t think so)

And I’m back in Madrid! Sportin’ a new haircut and all:

I was inspired to “chop it all off” by the hair style of this lovely lady:

We could totally pass as twins 😉

More importantly, look who was eagerly awaiting my arrival – I swear she quadrupled in size while I was gone.

The pup’s size wasn’t the only change the occurred in the city during my absence. As I rode on the Metro home from the airport, I noticed that the city of Madrid had adopted a new publicity campaign for its underground transportation system. Here’s a look at the latest Metro publicity poster:

The sign reads: “More for less: No where else in the world will you find another Metro which offers you so much for so little [money]”

Below the hand with the Metro pass, the announcement lists the prices of Metro tickets in other major cities compared to that of Madrid. For example, a single ride on the underground in London will cost you more than 4.50 Euros while the price in Madrid is 1.50 Euros.

This all seems pretty innocent, right?

I would have agreed with that – if I hadn’t been informed that this simple ad, upon its launch less than a month ago, sparked a wave of controversy in the city. In fact, some people have become so fed up with this advertisement that they have gone as far as vandalizing some of these Metro signs.

Let’s take a look at the vandalism shall we:

The actual caption above the list of prices originally read: “Compare with other Metros around the world” – only someone has crossed out the word “Metros” and replaced it with “minimum monthly salaries”. Then, next to the prices of the other subway systems, the person wrote in the minimum salaries of the other featured foreign countries compared to that of Spain.

Similar accounts of vandalism with this same message can currently be seen throughout the city.

Sadly, the vandal has definitely made a valid point. When compared to other countries (especially within Europe) Spain has an alarmingly low minimum monthly salary. Here’s a look at a clearer list comparing monthly European minimum wages:

  • France: 1.309€
  • Austria: 1.000€
  • Belgium:1.283€
  • Greece: 680 €
  • Spain:600€
  • Portugal: 426 €
  • Ireland: 1.499€
  • Holland: 1.317€
  • United Kingdom:1.190€


Therefore, the controversy is centered around the idea that of course the price of the Metro is lower here in Madrid than in other countries, given that the minimum Spanish salary is half of (or even less than half of) that of other countries featured in the advertisement such as England and France. This ad, some are arguing, is actually more of an insult to Spanish people than it is a compelling marketing campaign.

That’s not to say though that everyone here earns as little as 600 Euros a month. According to this article, the average yearly salary in Spain for 2010 was $22,511 Euros – which comes to about $1,876 Euros a month. (To put that in perspective for you, the average yearly salary in the US was $41,673 in 2010, or roughly 32,759 Euros)

All in all, the current outbreak of vandalism associated with these ads definitely drives home a clear message: Compared to the majority of their European peers, Spaniards earn much less money per month…. and they’re not afraid to let you know it!


2 thoughts on “Madrid’s Metro: Is it really a bargain? (The vandals certainly don’t think so)

  1. Very interesting article! Besides transportation, are food, rent, and taxes also cheaper in Spain than in other European countries? I heard that it was very expensive to live in England but I don’t know about France, Ireland, and Holland. Any ideas? Thanks for your further research!

    • I think it’s more or less equal… things are pretty expensive here in Madrid because it’s the capital. I did a little research about Paris, France (Since the minimum wage there is 1300 E a month, more than double that here!) And it said that a basic one bedroom apartment in Paris starts at around 600 Euros a month… the one bedroom apartment I was sharing with Diego was 680 Euros a month (but it included a parking space). Therefore I think it’s justified when the people here complain that they don’t make enough money to cover all expenses because living here (especially in Madrid) isn’t much cheaper than in other countries European countries with higher salaries. (They say that before the Euro was introduced here (in 2003 I think) everything was a ton cheaper…)

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