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SwissPass: A guide to Switzerland’s single public transport ticket

In 2020 public transport across Switzerland became unified with the SwissPass. Here’s what you need to know.

SwissPass: A guide to Switzerland's single public transport ticket
Photo: Depositphotos

From different languages and culture to a variety of specialised laws, Switzerland’s federalised structure can be confusing and even frustrating in a number of ways. 

Ever frustrating to travellers, public transport has been no exception. Despite Switzerland’s small size, tickets bought in one area were often not valid for others. 

The SwissPass Alliance, launched on January 1st, 2020, changed all that, uniting public transport in Switzerland for the first time. 

Download the SwissPass app here

While the new system may be much more convenient, one thing that hasn’t been unified is pricing. 

A sample SwissPass card. Photo: SBB.ch

Together at last? 

Around 250 transport companies and 17 regional fare groups have been united under the one pass. 

While this makes things much easier for locals and travellers alike, the system is not as ‘united’ as it may seem – particularly when it comes to pricing. 

Photo: JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP

Pricing will still differ across Switzerland, meaning you may pay a different amount for a similar journey in different parts of the country. 

The main reason for this is Switzerland’s public transport funding system, which splits costs evenly between cantons and communes. 

READ MORE: The apps you need for getting around Switzerland

Andreas Büttiker, part of the SwissPass Alliance, told the press during a media conference on January 7th, 2020, that the system was designed to incorporate a degree of flexibility. 

“Transport companies are attached to a regional identity and need flexibility in prices, especially since half of regional transport is financially supported by the Cantons and the Communes”, Büttiker said. 

As yet, there are no plans to change the existing funding framework – meaning price variations will continue for the foreseeable future. 

The operators believed the system would be more profitable. As it is easier to use, more people are using it – removing a major barrier to public transport usage. 

“The aim is to get more customers here and to make it easier for customers to use,” said Büttiker. 

READ: Swiss trains trial electronic version of SwissPass

What about us technophobes and paper fans?

As tickets for public transport – along with pretty much everything else – move online, there’s always the risk that some people will be left behind. 

Fortunately for technophobes, fans of paper tickets and anyone who is running dangerously low on mobile battery, traditional tickets will remain available for the foreseeable future. 

SwissPass said during the press conference that it pledges to continue operating ticket machines across the country for anyone who can’t or won’t go digital. 

“Part of the population will still want advice and paper tickets, but the sale of digital tickets will continue to increase,” said Vice President Bernard Guillelmon. 

Other existing tickets and subscriptions will remain unchanged. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

SWISS pilots threaten an October strike action

The Swiss pilots’ union could go on strike during Switzerland’s busy autumn holiday period.

SWISS pilots threaten an October strike action

The union, Aeropers, which has been negotiating salary increases and improved working conditions with Switzerland’s national airline, has rejected the carrier’s latest collective labour agreement (CLA) and is threatening to go on strike.

The  (CLA) is a kind of contract that is negotiated between Switzerland’s trade unions and employers or employer organisations. Generally speaking, they cover a minimum wage for each type of work; regulations relating to work hours; payment of wages in the event of illness or maternity; vacation and days off; and protection against dismissal.

READ MORE : What is a Swiss collective bargaining agreement — and how could it benefit you?

The pilots said they would cease flying on October 17th, which falls in the middle of school holidays in a number of cantons — the period when many families holiday abroad.

“SWISS has not sufficiently entered into the matter of the legitimate interests of its pilots”, Aeropers said, adding that if the airline doesn’t come up with a better offer, the union “will initiate the procedures for a strike”.

For its part, SWISS said in a press release that it offered its pilots 60 million francs more than on the previous CLA, but “Aeropers executive committee has rejected this latest offer as inadequate, and has made demands of its own totalling over 200 million”.

However, Aeropers head Thomas Steffen has denied SWISS’ claim saying the 200-million figure is “a fantasy number” that has no basis whatsoever. According to Steffen, the pilots’ demand was “significantly less than half of this sum”.

He went on to accuse the airline of “propaganda” at the detriment of its employees”.

He added that the strike would me a last-resort measure if the dispute on pay, which has been going on for a year, is not resolved within a month.

“We’ve negotiated for a year and made sure that our members are level-headed and fly safely and reliably, despite being without a contract,” Steffen said.

If the SWISS cockpit staff, which also includes its sister airline, Edelweiss, does go on strike, it will be the latest labour dispute in Europe’s aviation, which includes a strike by Lufthansa ground crew, which impacted Switzerland over the summer.

However, strikes by Swiss workers is relatively uncommon compared to other countries.

READ MORE: Why are strikes so rare in Switzerland?

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