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Driving & Public Transport

Geneva - Driving & Public Transport


Useful Telephone Numbers:

Traffic information and road/driving conditions 163

Car breakdown service 140

Private Car

If you intend to drive in Geneva and will be importing your own car into Geneva for this purpose, you will need to register your car with the Service des automobiles et de la navigation. Their office is located at 86, route de Veyrier, 1227 Carouge (Tel: 022 388 30 30; website: www.geneve.ch/san). This is the same agency to refer to enquire about boating licenses and permits. As far as possible, try to enter Geneva with a valid driving license issued in your country – if your driving license expires while you are in Geneva, you will be asked to take another driving test in order to get a license issued in Geneva!

To drive on Swiss motorways, you will need to purchase a vignette (to be placed on your windscreen). A one-year vignette usually cost $40 CHF, and you can purchase one from the tourist office, the post office or at the border crossings. As with other European cities, speeding, especially in built-up areas, comes with a very heavy fine – in some cases, the fines go up to several thousand CHF, and you can even land up spending a night in jail, depending on how much over the limit you were driving. In winter, there are fines for driving without snow tires. The wearing of safety belts is compulsory for all passengers.

For real-time updates, visit this website. To familiarize yourself with driving in Switzerland, try www.cooldriving.ch or www.coolcycling.ch if you are interested in cycling.

The numbers and letters on car license plates follow a certain code – the 2 letters represent the canton (e.g. GE for Geneva), and the license plate numbers are assigned based on the number of years the person who registered the car has been driving.

Parking is a perennial headache, and you will need to make sure you have valid parking permits (for both your residence as well as at your workplace, if you intend to drive to work) as a long-term resident of Geneva – although parking is expensive in Geneva, the fines for non-compliance are way more expensive! There are Park and Ride schemes and long-term parking schemes (blue zones) for parking in the city. For more information, refer to the website on La Fondation des parkings.

There are car-sharing schemes – try www.mobility.ch or www.covoiturage.ch.

Public Transport

The Genovese public transport offering in Geneva is clean, efficient and well-connected. Buses, trams, trains and boats in Geneva are managed by Unireso. Itineraries, network maps and FAQs (e.g. carrying of pets on public transport) are all available on their website (in French). There are monthly or yearly passes ("Tout Genève") you can purchase for travel on Geneva's public transport system. The annual pass for an adult is $650 CHF. The entire train network covers some 380km of track, so the actual coverage is very dense. Some trams and buses cross into French borders – these are marked accordingly with letters (the other services are marked by numbers). There are also night bus services ("noctambus").

Alternatively, taxis can be hired, but these are very expensive, and usually reserved for emergencies. The flag-down rate for a taxi is $3.20 CHF per km (Mondays to Fridays, 631am to 830pm and on Saturdays 631am to 630pm) and $3.80 CHF per km (from 831pm to 630am on Sundays and public holidays). The more expensive rates apply if there are more than 4 passengers traveling in a taxi.

For regional travel, the Swiss Federal Railways (CFF) offers efficient and convenient travel via rail. Coaches are available at Gare Routiere (Place Dorciere, 1211 Geneva).


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