Have you ever travelled in a country where you don’t know how to buy a ticket nor what kind of ticket you need? You see a ticket machine and have no clue how to use it – it’s all in a different language too! You’ve got to guess – unless of course you can bag up the courage to use your very bad language skills and some sort of sign language to ask someone. The kids are getting impatient…the bus is coming…agh!!!! There are some simple good-to-knows that will make your travels smoother.
This is a great APP that you can download to your smartphone. It will give you live updates on the best way to get to your destination including all the changes and the platform numbers you’ll need. It takes into account any changes due to rail or road works. The SBB Mobile APP is very up-to-date and definitely worth using!
Before jumping on a bus or tram you should validate your tickets by feeding them into the machine either at the bus/tram stop, or on the bus. (There aren’t any of these machines on the trams.) Your ticket is not valid unless either it’s been validated before your journey, or it’s a day travel card. (Day Travel Cards don’t need validating at a machine because they are only valid for that day.)
Trains leave on time – Swiss time – NOT African time! When the Swiss say 8.30 they mean 8.30am. Note that the Swiss use the 24-hour clock, so 5pm is 1700hrs.
Conductors don’t always check tickets, but don’t be tempted to use public transport without a ticket ‘Schwarz fahren’. You’ll be left red-faced and faced with a fine.
Most stations have a Travel Office where you can ask all things relating to travel around Switzerland. Just take a ticket with a number from the machine and wait your turn. Most of the people at working in this office speak English, French, German and Italian. (Did you know that the latter 3 languages are all Official Swiss languages?)
Most Intercity trains have a Family Zone/ Family Coach. The single decker trains have a Family Zone (FZ sign on the timetable) which is probably more a warning for other travellers to stay away from that coach if they hope to have a quiet journey. The double-decker trains have a Family Coach (FA sign on the timetable) which even has a playground on board – my kids loved this, and it entertained them for the whole hour of our journey from Luzern to Basel. The Family Coach is usually the last coach and has animal paintings on it.
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