Swiss commuters could face price increases to cover SBB losses
Commuters and travellers across Switzerland may face fare increases of over 2 percent in future, as Swiss public transport suffers lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
SBB recorded passenger losses in 2020 and 2021
Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) saw a large fall in passenger numbers during the pandemic, with train usage dropping by 30 percent in 2020 and 2021. Sales of public transport tickets that are regularly used by commuters, such as the GA Travelcard for unlimited travel in Switzerland, fell by 20 percent to only 400.000 annual users.
A spokesperson for Alliance SwissPass, Thomas Ammann, said that "lockdown and home offices have probably meant that many commuters have asked themselves whether the subscription to travel cards was still worthwhile." He noted that the move to remote working had a dramatic impact on how Switzerland, a mainly commuting nation, did business. Normal passengers numbers seen before the pandemic are only expected to return by 2024.
Swiss public transport ticket prices should not be raised
In a bid to rescue SBB - who recorded an operating loss of 617 million Swiss francs last year - politicians have begun to discuss raising ticket prices to cope with the losses. Finance Minister and Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer has proposed a 2 percent increase in rail fares and season tickets, to cope with the now 1,5 billion Swiss franc debt SBB owes creditors.
For Ammann, “Now is the completely wrong time to raise prices, this is not how we bring back lost customers." He said that increasing prices was punishing commuters, adding it was "not the right way to encourage more passengers." In response, SBB has started to look at new sources of revenue. These include a plan for “supersaver” tickets at non-peak times and a new subscription model. It is hoped by the government that public transport will recover as soon as possible, with a goal to expand by 51 percent by 2040.