Driving remains by far the most popular way to commute in Switzerland

Driving remains by far the most popular way to commute in Switzerland

Contrary to the country’s image abroad, a near-absolute majority of workers in Switzerland still use the car to commute, a new study from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) has revealed. Driving remains the preferred choice for most commutes, which have gotten longer on average in recent years.

Half of workers in Switzerland use the car to commute

According to the data, as of 2022 50 percent of people who commute to work in Switzerland do so exclusively via car, making it by far the most popular means of transport. Interestingly, despite recent measures designed to reduce the number of drivers on the roads, the percentage of people driving to work has not changed significantly since 1990.

Of the 3,6 million people who commute for part or all of their working hours, just 16 percent choose to do so via public transport alone. While this is 5 percent more than in 1990 - before the dramatic expansion of S-Bahn services in the 2000s - the FSO noted that the number of people using the train has remained roughly unchanged since 2010.

Train users were followed by those who use park-and-ride services or some other combination of driving and train (13 percent), people who walk to work (9 percent), people who cycle (7 percent), e-bikers (2 percent) and motorcyclists (2 percent).

Commutes in Switzerland are getting longer

While driving remains the most popular means of transportation overall, the FSO noted that walking (44 percent of commuters) and cycling (24 percent) are most favoured on commutes of less than two kilometres. The car took the top spot for commutes between two and 50 kilometres, while the train was the most popular commuting method beyond 50 kilometres.

The FSO also noted that the average length of a commute to work in Switzerland has increased by 6 percent since 2000, totalling 13,7 kilometres one-way in 2022. “One in 12 commuters need more than an hour to get to work,” the government wrote.

Driving remains the most convenient commuting method in Switzerland

Speaking to SRF, mobility expert Thomas Sauter-Servaes said that in order to achieve Switzerland’s net-zero emissions targets by 2050, "It will not be enough to just improve public transport. We will also have to ensure that we achieve higher costs for cars." According to SRF, transport accounts for 33 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in Switzerland, three-quarters of which come from cars and motorcycles.

Sauter-Servaes conceded that while more people could be encouraged to use public transport by increasing services, fundamentally driving remains a “very convenient door-to-door means of transport” for most commuters. Cost of living concerns also remains a factor, with data from the official Swiss Price Monitor noting that in 2022, taking public transport was 86 percent more expensive than using a car on average.

“We need incentives to get people out of their cars and break the routine," Sauter-Servaes concluded. For more information about the study, check out the FSO data.

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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