Swiss Public Transport
Places Covered : All Switzerland
Duration : Flexible
Tour Cost: On Request
SWISS PUBLIC TRANSPORT
For our guests from abroad: the Swiss Travel System offers you 29,000 captivating kilometres of public transport. We offer the densest public transport network in the world. And exclusively for visitors to Switzerland a unique choice of travel tickets which cover the entire country. Trains, buses and ships are ready and waiting to take you in comfort to your desired destination.
Public transportation in Switzerland is punctual, efficient, and clean, so there’s really no need to own a car. Here’s how to travel in Switzerland by bus, tram, train, and ferry.
Switzerland possesses one of the world’s most reliable public transport services, which makes reaching even the most remote parts of the country relatively easy.
With a reliable, efficient, clean and safe public transport network, it is easy to get around without a car in Switzerland. Train, tram and bus networks cover the entire country, and there are also extensive cycling routes, with bicycles easy to organise.
Buses, boats, trams, trains, and cable cars are all part of a coordinated and well organised infrastructure, with information and timetables available online and from tourism information centres.
Switzerland is one of the most environmentally conscious nations in the world, so being green is an integral part of life.
The alpine nation’s central European location makes destinations throughout Europe easy to reach, by air, rail or road. A day trip to Milan, a weekend in Paris or a break in Barcelona are all easy options with public transport.
Swiss train travel
The rail network in Switzerland is well organised, convenient, and takes you almost everywhere. Whether travelling for business or pleasure, the Swiss Federal Railways, known as SBB in German, CFF in French, and FFS in Italian, offers a multitude of options.
There are 1st and 2nd class tickets. Validity depends on the means of transport and the distance travelled. “City tickets” from Swiss Federal Railways (SBB/CFF/FFS) include a one-day travel pass for buses or trams at the destination.
The Swiss Pass was launched in summer 2015 and unites the previously separate travelcards on one single, chip-equipped plastic card. In the introduction phase, it only replaced the Half-Fare card and the GA card but more and more options and services can now be loaded to the Swiss Pass.
This means that the Swiss Pass can also store ski resort tickets, your Mobility Carsharing membership and PubliBike bicycle rentals.
The Half-Fare pass allows half price travel on the entire Swiss public transport network. This includes all SBB/CFF/FFS railway routes, many private and mountain railways, boat and ferry crossings, and even post-buses (which provide connections in more remote areas). It is worth the investment if you are planning to be in Switzerland for more than just a short stay. There is a choice of one, two, or three years’ validity. Passes can be purchased online or at railway stations. Bring a valid passport or identity document and a recent photograph.
The GA pass (General Abonnement)
If you use public transport frequently, the GA pass is worthwhile. The pass allows unlimited travel on public transport throughout Switzerland, not only on SBB/CFF/FFS and the many private railways, trams, buses, and boats, but also on certain cable cars and funicular mountain railways. With the GA pass, the cardholder additionally benefits from travel discounts on many Swiss mountain railways and from discounts in neighbouring countries such as Germany and Austria. Several options, including annual, monthly, and daily, are available. A GA entitles the holder to reductions on car rentals in Switzerland and discounted participation in car sharing schemes.
Note: The GA is often referred to as an AG, which refers to the French term abonnement général.
Day passes, one-day travel passes, or 9 o’clock cards enabling unlimited travel on the entire Swiss transport network can be bought from SBB/CFF/FFS or from local communes at varying rates. Communes only have a certain number available each month, so try to contact them early. For those interested in travelling at off-peak times, a limited number of Supersaver discounted tickets are also offered.
Track 7 or seven25 card
Track 7 is a special offer for young people under 25, who hold a Half-Fare pass and are happy to travel at night. Travel in 2nd class is free from 7pm to 5am throughout the entire SBB/CFF/FFS public transport system.
Travelling with children
Children between 6 and 16 travelling with at Half-Fare pass or GA cardholder are entitled to a special day ticket. Certain trains have special family coaches with a free play area reserved first for families.
The Junior pass costs just CHF 30 a year, and allows children from 6 -16 to travel free of charge when accompanied by parents or grandparents holding a valid ticket. If there are more than two children in the family, any further children travel for free!
Tickets can be purchased at ticket counters, machines, online, by mobile app or by the rail phone service 0900 300 300. Most stations have touch screen ticket machines operating in several languages. Most, but not all, machines accept cash and credit cards, so check first.
Multiple trip cards
Weekly, monthly or yearly season tickets for specific zones are also available. These are useful for regular travel on the same route, for example to and from work. An annual season ticket costs about the equivalent of nine monthly tickets. Cards are valid for six one way trips and must be stamped before boarding the train.
Using taxis in Switzerland
Taxis in Switzerland are expensive. The initial charge is on average CHF 6.50 plus CHF 3.50 per kilometre. The exact charge may depend on the canton, time of day, weekday, luggage, animals and whether you are crossing a cantonal border or not. Fares are state supervised and subject to change. A service charge is included in the fare so tipping is not obligatory. Taxis are available at public taxi stands but are difficult to hail in the streets.
Useful information on public transport in Switzerland
Paying for tickets and boarding
Public transport vehicles in Switzerland are equipped with modern automatic passenger-operated doors. Buttons are generally situated alongside the outside door and on the pillar inside the door. Doors remain open for 3 seconds unless the passenger is standing on the footboard or pressing on the button. Please note that many trains, buses and trams do not have ticket machines onboard so it is important to pre-purchase your ticket because fines are steep. On yellow post-buses however, tickets can be purchased from the driver.
Children under 6, prams, and luggage are free
Holders of Half-Fare travelcards and children aged 6–16 pay half price fares
Dogs pay half price
Prices and discounts
The high standard of public transport in Switzerland comes with high prices, especially for rail travel between larger cities. When staying in Switzerland for a long period of time, it is advisable to purchase a GA (General Abonnement) ticket. The GA provides unlimited travel on the entire Swiss network and is available in one-month, six-month and one-year durations. The next best option is to purchase a Half-Fare card (CHF 164), which entitles the bearer to half-price travel on the whole network. Finally, those younger than 25 who already possess a Half-Tax card can upgrade to a G7 (Gleis 7) card for CHF 129, which grants free travel on the whole network after 19.00. Bearers of these cards are also entitled to reduced-price products at a number of shops throughout the country.