Switzerland is known for many things. One of them is that everything works well. And that you practically don’t need a car to get around. Because Switzerland has an excellent public transport network consisting of train, tram, bus and boat. Nowhere else in the world is it more fun to travel by public transport.
SBB connects entire Switzerland
An important factor is the train, which takes you almost everywhere in Switzerland. A journey across the country from St. Gallen to Geneva by train takes less than five hours. The Swiss Federal Railways, or SBB for short, make this possible.
The history of SBB
1 January 1902 is the official date of birth of the Swiss Federal Railways. The first train travelled from Zurich via Aarau, Olten, Bern and Lausanne to Geneva. Today, 33,000 employees ensure that the Swiss backbone of public transport functions smoothly.
The Half-Fare travelcard “Halbtax” – as popular as Swiss chocolate
Everyone in Switzerland has it. If you don’t have it yet, you should get it. We are talking about the Half-Fare travelcard calles “Halbtax”. The Halbtax is a pass with which you can travel by train and most of the public transportation (exception are some cable cars in the mountain) for half the price. The Halbtax is part of the “Swiss Pass” now, a plastic card issued by SBB that combines all public transport passes. You can register for the Swiss Pass conveniently online. If you travel frequently by train, you should definitely get a Halbtax to save a lot of money.
Five minutes delay due to interlocking problems
Switzerland is known for its punctuality and reliability. The same goes for SBB. Their delays are correspondingly badly received by people. So if you’re sitting on a train and suddenly an announcement is made: “Due to an interlocking problem, we arrive at Zurich main station with 5 minutes delay for which we apologize”, then watch the passengers and you will see how annoyed they are because of a 5 minute delay. People get angry shaking their heads or rolling their eyes. Some even curse and say: the SBB is not what it used to be. Reactions that are unthinkable abroad. Depending on the country, you’d be happy if the train was running at all. But the Swiss tick a little differently and unpunctuality is something that is not tolerated. Least of all from the SBB.
The public transport system
Each canton in Switzerland has a transport association which is responsible for the strategic planning, the coordination, marketing and financing of public transport in the respective canton. These include the entire range of public transport services such as trams, buses, boats and suburban trains. Since public transport is regulated on a cantonal basis, a pass from Basel, for example, is only valid in Basel and not in Berne.
Here are the websites of the most important transport associations:
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PostBus is the leading bus company for public transport in Switzerland and, with 2300 vehicles, offers high-quality regional passenger transport. Postbuses used to transport mail, but today this is only the case in peripheral regions. Today, PostBus concentrates on public buses and private travel. PostBus can also be used to book numerous excursions. The ideal way to get to know Switzerland.
Explore Switzerland by boat
With its abundance of lakes and rivers, Switzerland is predestined for leisurely cruises on the wet blue. On almost all lakes there are scheduled boats as well as excursion boats. This is what makes travelling by boat in Switzerland so interesting. In Zurich, for example, you can comfortably get from Bürkliplatz to any community along Lake Zurich by boat. In addition, there are also theme boats such as the fondue boat or the wine boat (Expovina). You can find the best boat excursions here.
Talking to people while travelling
A train ride is always a good way to get in touch with people. Pensioners in particular are happy to have an extensive chat when they are sitting in the same train compartment. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to talk to a local elderly lady in Swiss German? You can’t do that yet? Then sign up for our online course, which will teach you Swiss German in just 30 days. And then you can have a chat on your next train ride.