Is Swiss public transport good value for money?

Is Swiss public transport good value for money?

Switzerland is well known for its high prices relative to its neighbours. This has translated into one of the most expensive public transport networks in the world. Swiss railways have a reputation for being pricey, but is this true?

Swiss trains cheap relative to average salary

A new study by LITRA, a Swiss public transport association, has revealed that, relative to salaries, pensions and overall purchasing power, public transport tickets are cheaper in Switzerland than in some of the larger nations in Europe. Adjusted for the “purchasing power” of consumers - how much an average person can afford - Swiss trains are cheaper than railways in the Netherlands, France, Germany and the UK.

The average return fare for an adult in a Swiss city, adjusted for purchasing power, is 2,08 Swiss francs. While this is more than in Italy and Austria, it is significantly less than in France (3,89 Swiss francs), Germany (4,01 Swiss francs) and the UK (5,75 Swiss francs). 

This means that although rail fares may be more expensive than other countries, they are more affordable to the general population of Switzerland than British rail fares are to the public in the UK. This means that Swiss trains, although they are some of the most expensive in Europe, are compensated for by high paying jobs in Switzerland.

Switzerland's public transport provides top services

LITRA also found that, relative to its price, Switzerland provides the best service out of those surveyed, earning a rating of 12, compared with Germany and France at 5,2 and the UK at 3,5. One place where Switzerland falls short is for pensioners and senior citizens, who only receive a specific discount in the city of Lausanne.

Switzerland also has one of the slowest rail networks in the world, which LITRA blames on the demanding terrain that requires trains to move around or through mountains. Concluding the report, LITRA said that considering the quality of service passengers receive on SBB and other providers, public transport in Switzerland offers “extraordinarily good value for money."

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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