Why Switzerland won’t introduce €9 rail tickets like in Germany
Elected officials have been urging the Swiss government to follow Germany’s example in issuing low-cost transport tickets. But authorities insist it won't happen and have tried to explain why it's a bad idea.
In Germany, the €9 ticket is a nationwide, monthly travel card, which allows travellers to use all means of local public transport for only €9 a month. It is available to use for June, July and August.
The coalition government brought in this measure as part of a relief package aimed at helping to ease the cost of living crisis.
Swiss MP Matthias Aebischer and several of his colleagues from the Social Democratic party have found this idea “brilliant” and called on the government to adopt a similar measure, by introducing equivalently priced, 10-franc tickets, “to encourage people to switch to public transport”, especially in view of rising petrol prices.
However, the government is not as enthusiastic about this idea.
Transport Minister Simonetta Sommaruga has told the National Council this week that there are no such plans in Switzerland, at least for the time being, citing several reasons for the reticence.
Public authorities would have to subsidise this experiment and compensate for the additional shortfall, which the government is not keen to do.
Risk of overload
Even without a cheaper ticket, “public transport in Switzerland is already well frequented”, Sommaruga said.
It is true that people in Switzerland ride trains more frequently than residents of other European countries, according to international surveys.
But with a 10-franc ticket, “you risk overcrowding buses and trains”, which would drive — literally and figuratively — “many customers to switch to cars”.
In fact, the first days of the new project in Germany — which started on June 1st — proved Sommaruga’s point, causing “traffic jams, chaos and anger”, according to media reports.
As The Local Germany reported, "around 400 trains were overcrowded on each day" of the long Pentecost weekend.
“As expected, the €9 campaign triggered a big rush on regional trains, which led to significantly more cases of congestion nationwide”, a railway official said.
“Platforms and trains were full all over Germany, and in several cases overcrowded trains had to be cleared".
“Around 700 reports of overloaded trains, passenger issues or other disruptions were sent to the operations centre per day".
This is he German scene the Swiss want to avoid:
No long-term benefits
In addition, it is argued that many new customers recruited by the 10-franc offer will not continue to use public transportation when the project ends and normal rates return.
“The cost/benefit ratio does not justify the introduction of a cheaper ticket in Switzerland”, authorities concluded.
What are the options for cheaper tickets on Swiss Federal Railways (SBB)?
Swiss trains are among the most expensive in Europe, but sometimes more reasonable options are available.
READ MORE: Why are Swiss train passes so expensive?
These fares could be up to 70 percent cheaper than regular ones, but you need to plan in advance to purchase these tickets rather than at the last minute.
They are only are only available online – whether via your browser or the SBB app – and not at the machines on the platforms and at stations.
Unlimited daily travel pass
Another way to save on fares is by buying a daily pass (Spartageskarte / Carte journalière / Carta giornaliera) through your municipality.
The prices vary but are generally around 45 francs. The pass will give you unlimited travel on all forms of public transportation throughout Switzerland for 24 hours.
Pretending to travel internationally
It is a well known fact that purchasing the same or similar goods abroad will likely cost less than buying them in Switzerland.
The same holds true for tickets for Swiss trains.
As Blick reported, “people who book their train journeys in Switzerland on the Deutsche Bahn or on the SNCF [French] website, can save up to 10 percent”.
For instance, a full-fare, one-way Lausanne to Geneva ticket purchased from the SNCF website costs 2.55 francs less than when bought from the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) site, Blick said.
Also, foreign rail companies sometimes offer rock-bottom cheap tickets for international travel, like this one:
You can find all the information about cheaper travel options here: