Highly flexible public transport passes to launch in Switzerland
In an effort to get more people onto public transport in Switzerland, Alliance SwissPass and a number of other regional providers have come together to launch new flexible public transport passes. Here’s what you need to know about each one, and how they may make the cost of travel cheaper:
New tickets designed to cater to hybrid workers
Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the way people in Switzerland use public transport has changed dramatically. The rise of hybrid working and COVID restrictions led to dramatically lower passenger numbers than usual between 2020 and 2022, with the consequences forcing providers to raise the cost of tickets.
While passenger numbers have since recovered - and actually reached record levels in the second quarter of 2023 - the number of people holding all-access GA travel passes has fallen from 499.530 in 2019 to 431.000 in 2022. 20 Minuten argued that as a large number of people now only commute on certain days of the week, a 3.800-franc GA annual pass, offering unlimited travel every day, no longer makes economic sense for many people.
All you need to know about the new Swiss transport tickets
Therefore, Alliance SwissPass, the body that issues tickets for Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), and a number of regional transport providers have announced new types of passes that should make subscriptions cheaper. They are due to be brought in alongside SBB’s new timetable, which should come into effect in mid-December.
Credit TP is finally coming to Switzerland
First, SBB has confirmed that the Credit TP (öV-Guthaben, crédit transports publics, Credito TP) subscription will be available across Switzerland from December 2023. The pass, announced in December 2022, is designed to cater to occasional travellers, workers who only go to the office part-time and those planning to live in the country for a short period.
Essentially, the ticket works in a similar way to the Oyster card in London. With Credit TP, you are able to “top up” your SwissPass with a set amount of credit (accessed via mobile phone, app or the internet). Paying for tickets using this credit is cheaper than buying the tickets directly.
For instance, those who put 2.100 francs into their account receive 3.000 Swiss francs worth of credit to use on transport. Those who invest 1.500 into their account get 2.000 francs of credit, and those who put in 800 will get 1.000 francs of credit.
If the year ends and all the credits are not used up, subscription holders can either keep the credits or have them refunded. The offer will be available across practically all Swiss services and is not restricted to any specific transport region.
FlexiAbo: A more flexible GA
Second, a number of transport associations will be launching the so-called FlexiAbo. This is a system where access to a specific region's transport network is granted on a selected number of days a year, as chosen by the traveller.
For instance, passengers with a FlexiAbo are able to travel for 100 days in every 365-day period. These days can be anytime and do not have to be declared in advance - essentially making the ticket a more flexible, shorter but more restricted GA.
However, the FlexiAbo will not be available for use in all parts of Switzerland. From the timetable change in December, it should be available in Canton Vaud, Fribourg, Jura and Neuchâtel - the Mobilis, Frimobil, Vagabond and Onde Verte transport zones respectively. It will also be offered in the region covered by Passpartout - Lucerne, Obwalden and Nidwalden.
Tests of the FlexiAbo are ongoing in Canton Zurich (ZVV) and the Engadine region of Graubünden, but no full rollout is planned at the time of writing.
Price capping on public transport in Switzerland
Finally, a number of areas will be starting or continuing to use the price capping model. This system states that, once a person spends more than a set price during a day, week or month, further transport tickets purchased during the period are free. The price cap itself will vary depending on the region.
So far, A-Welle, the zone covering transport in Canton Aargau and Solothurn, has confirmed that they will use a price cap in the future, although this is yet to be determined. Canton Uri has already capped travel at 7,50 francs a day (5 francs with Halbtax) for travel within its borders, while the system is also being trialled on the N1 (Lausanne-Évian-les-Bains), N2 (Lausanne-Thonon-les-Bains) and N3 (Nyon-Yvoire) ferry lines on Lake Geneva.
Consumer foundation worries about accessibility
Speaking to 20 Minuten, the Foundation for Consumer Protection said that while they welcomed the new transport tickets and the lower costs, they did have one concern. Namely, all the new tickets rely on someone having access to the internet or a smartphone, disadvantaging older travellers.