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Switzerland greenlights three 'low-cost' long-distance bus services

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Switzerland greenlights three 'low-cost' long-distance bus services
Zurich-based Domo already runs international services. Photo: Domo
15:29 CET+01:00
The Swiss Federal Office of Transport on Monday gave the green light to Zurich-based transport firm Domo Swiss Express SA. to operate three long-distance bus lines in Switzerland up to the year 2020.

The first of these new lines will cover the route St. Gallen–Zurich–Biel/Bienne–Geneve airport. The second bus line is to cover the route from from Zürich airport to Lugano via Basel and Lucerne while the third line is set to run from Chur/Coire to Sitten/Sion in Valais taking in Zurich and Berne along the way.

According to the Domo website, the three new services will kick off on March 25th. Initially there will be just one service per day on each line in each direction. However, as of June, there will be two services per day in each direction.

Travellers holding either the Swiss halb-tax/demi-tarif rail card or the GA travelcard will be able to use it when travelling on Domo's new Swiss express services, the company says.

Sample starting prices for Swiss rail card holders listed on the Domo website include 11.50 Swiss francs for a one-way trip from Zurich to Bern (against 25.50 Swiss francs on the train with a Swiss half-price rail card, as seen by The Local on Monday), 8.80 Swiss francs for a one-way trip from Basel to Zurich (against 17 Swiss francs for the train) and 9.80 Swiss francs for a one-way journey from St Gallen to Zurich (15.50 Swiss francs on the train).

But travel times will be twice as long: Domo will take two hours between Zurich and Berne, while the train takes 62 minutes, for example.

The Swiss Express buses will have first-class and second-class sections, with passengers allowed to carry one piece of hand luggage and one other larger piece of travel luggage free of charge. Passengers can also carry one set of skies or a snowboard without incurring additional costs, according to Domo.

All passengers will have to reserve in advance as there will be no standing room on the services, according to the Swiss transport office statement. 

In 2017, a Swiss government report conceded that national long-distance bus services would be feasible in certain specific circumstances. However, under Swiss law, new transport options like that offered by Domo as of next month cannot compete with government-funded transport services to the extent that they threaten their survival.

Monday's announcement from the Federal Office of Transport comes just days afer Toni Häne of Swiss rail service SBB weighed into the transport cost debate, telling Swiss daily NZZ that the abolishing the half-fare card in favour of cutting regular fares for everyone could be “considered” but would need the whole transport industry's approval.


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