Public transport in Switzerland

Switzerland has one of the best-developed public transport networks in the world. Almost any part of the country can be reached by bus or by train - even remote mountain areas.

This content was published on August 22, 2022 - 12:04

Switzerland is one of the countries where people use public transport the most, especially the train. However, two-thirds of all trips are still made by private car.

Bus, tram and regional train networks are generally well developed in urban areas. People also like to get about on foot or by bike.


Switzerland has one of the largest and most extensive rail networks in Europe, with a total length of around 5,100 kilometres (3,189 miles). Most of the lines (some 3,200 kilometres) are operated by the Swiss Federal Railways (CFF/SBB). The company was founded in 1902 and used to be government-owned, but became a public limited company in 1999.

Swiss trains are known for their frequent, safe and punctual service. Tickets may seem expensive to tourists or expatriates, but once you take exchange rates and purchasing power into account, they are within the European average. Trains generally have two classes.

There are two kinds of season ticket, which cover trains and most other public transport in Switzerland: the half-fare travel card (which reduces all ticket prices by half) and the general travel card (which gives unlimited use of the entire network, including trains, buses, trams and scheduled boat services).


Before the advent of rail, Swiss postal stagecoaches also carried passengers, as in other countries. The Swiss horse-drawn postal network was set up in 1849. The first scheduled post bus service started to run in 1906, between Bern and nearby Detligen. In 1919, the Simplon railway line was inaugurated, linking Lausanne in Switzerland and Domodossola in Italy.

The vast majority of postal routes are now operated by PostBus, which is managed by Swiss Post. Other companies can now obtain an operating licence when routes are put out to tender. As well as linking towns and cities, postal buses also run to remote Alpine and rural areas that are not served by rail.

In urban areas, regional bus networks complement the rail service. There are also scheduled boat services on lakes and rivers. These sometimes only operate in the summer.


Switzerland has three international airports: Zurich, Geneva and Basel. Smaller regional airports also offer national and international flights. Given the size of the country, air travel within Switzerland is very limited.

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