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Public Transport in Switzerland

Guide byPackimpex

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.

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Traveling by train in Switzerland

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.

Important: Tickets cannot be bought on Swiss trains so make sure to purchase them before boarding. Fines for travelling without a ticket are steep. If you forget your travelcard, you have to pay the fine but will be able to request a refund minus a service charge of CHF 5.

Our tip: Download the SBB/CFF/FFS app, you can't really do without it. With it, you can access the real-time schedules and purchase tickets directly. Not to mention that if you are not sure which zones to choose, the app will select that for you. 

The Swiss Pass

The Swiss Pass can also store ski resort tickets, your Mobility Carsharing membership and PubliBike bicycle rentals.

The Half-Fare card

The Half-Fare pass (Halbtax, DE and Demi-Tarif, FR) allows you to travel at half price for a year 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 and if you have to travel frequently by train. 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.

Supersaver Ticket

If you want to save some money on train tickets, it makes sense to be on the lookout for Supersaver tickets (Sparbillet, DE or billets dégriffés, FR). On these tickets you can get a discount of up to 70% and can be bought directly on the SBB app. The only catch is that you need to purchases these tickets for a specific connection and are not valid for the entire day. However, if you already know you will take a certain connection well in advance, it makes sense to purchase them.

The GA card (General Abo, DE or Abonnement Général, FR)

If you use public transport frequently, the GA card is worth it. 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 card, 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 also entitles the holder to reductions on car rentals in Switzerland and discounted participation in car sharing schemes.

Day cards/ Tageskarte (DE)/ Carte journaliere (FR)

This is a card you can use for unlimited travel for 24h - it is basically a GA for a day. The cards are usually sold by your local commune and various community centers in your neighbourhood should have it on sale. The cost of such a card is about CHF 50 and avaialbility is sometimes limited (of course, this was before corona). There is a certain number of cards available per day and you need to choose the day well in advance. 

The card is a huge advantage especially when you have guests over, as no Half fare card is required. 

SBB also has their own day cards on offer, but they are more expensive that the commune day cards (one SBB day card costs around CHF 70). 

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.

 

Do you have questions about life in Switzerland? We are here to help!

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