Things I learned: Swiss trains and buses - Heidi Ho - CycleBlaze

July 20, 2012

Things I learned: Swiss trains and buses

Swiss trains and buses are great. They are efficient, plentiful, clean and meet schedules. Swiss trains and buses are also expensive, sometimes. Here is how it works...

1. Taking a bike on a Swiss train or bus is a rip-off. Sometimes it costs double! More than once, a driver looked rather embarrassed when quoting me a price saying something like, "it's because you have the bike." A couple of times I considered side trips on a train, but changed my mind when I heard the price, which seemed completely out of line for where I wanted to go.

2. Some routes are cheap, some expensive. Routes that go over a pass that is closed in the winter are VERY expensive. They are considered "tourist routes" so they jack up the price.

My first trip was when I left Leo and Steph. I went from Steg, on the south side of the Jungfrau to Kendersteg, on the north side. It required me to take a bus to the top, transfer to a train, and take the train through a tunnel to the other side. All of that cost me 8.50 franks. It is a year round route, heavily used by locals.

On the other hand, when the weather closed in above Grindelwald, and I wanted to take a bus for only the last 7 kilometers to the top, they wanted 24 franks.

"Twenty-four?" I said. Thinking that I heard it wrong.

"It's a tourist route," he told me. Though I didn't know what that meant until the next day, when the English driver explained the ins and outs of Swiss bus fares. Of course, the locals have a pass of some kind, so they don't have to pay the surcharge.

3. The lower half of tourist routes are less expensive. For example, the route from Meiringen to Gadman is less expensive than Gadman to the summit of Sutsenpass (about the same distance) because the route to Gadman runs all year round. It is not a "tourist" route. In that situation, if you wanted to bus part of the pass and ride part of the pass you would save money by taking the bus on the first half, from Meiringen to Gadman.

Of course this is an example. I would not recommend climbing Sustenpass at all on a road bike. There is a mountain bike route up it, but the road up is extremely narrow and steep, not to mention long.

4. If you think you will be taking two trips in one day you can get an "all day" bike pass which should save some money. Though I don't know how much since I never had a need for it.

Taking the bus (called postbus) up a few mountain passes saved me a lot of time and added to the enjoyment of the trip. Sometimes it saved a full day (that's how long and tough some of the mountain passes were) so I could see a lot more of the country.

Still, I think that if a country is going call itself "cycling friendly" it should not charge up to double to take a bike on a bus or train.

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