How companies in Switzerland are helping employees avoid packed public transport

How companies in Switzerland are helping employees avoid packed public transport
Companies want employees to use public transport outside of peak hours. Photo by AFP
Various employers in Switzerland are adopting flexible working hours to relieve congestion in public transportation during rush hour and protect their employees against possible Covid-19 infection.

According to a report on RTS television, a number of Swiss companies in private and public sector are implementing flexible work hours to help their employees avoid commuting in crowded trains, buses, trams, and metros.

For instance, starting on Monday, the Geneva-based Japan Tobacco International is rolling out new working hours: groups of employees will come to the office every other week, keeping flexibility in the days and hours of presence.

Another company, Société Générale, is allowing its employees to arrive at work until 10:00 am.

People in Switzerland normally work from 8 am until 5 pm.

Public transportation is usually crowded just before the start of the work day and an hour or so after the end of the regular work hours.

READ MORE: Q&A: What impact will Switzerland's mask rule for public transport have?

The University of Lausanne and Federal Polytechnic Institute (EPFL) have also instituted the staggered hours.

According to geographer Julien Lovey, both institutions divided their campuses into three sectors, shifting the start times for classes in each sector by a quarter of an hour.

“This relieves congestion on the M1 metro, which reached saturation points during the morning rush hour”, he said.

This new system “has interesting effects, because you avoid overloading one or two trains, instead spreading passengers over five, six or even seven trains”, he pointed out.

Some cantons are also considering making school hours more flexible for the benefit of students, teachers and parents who use public transport.

From the start of the new school year in Geneva on August 24th, students aged 12 to 15 will start lessons at 8:30 or 8:45 am, instead of 8:00 am, to limit congestion on public transport.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Swiss authorities advised the public not to use public transportation system during peak hours to avoid being infected with — or spreading — the virus. 

At that time, face masks on buses, trains, and trams, were merely ‘recommended’ rather than made obligatory.

However, starting on July 6th, masks on all public transport are mandatory for adults and children over the age of 12.  

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