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Buses and Trams

Switzerland - Buses and Trams

Swiss cities operate a range of public transport services, including buses, trams, and in lakeside cities also boats. These networks are unified and one ticket will allow use of all public transport in the area. Swiss public transport is efficient and well co-ordinated. Although there are more drivers on Swiss roads than ever before, rates of car ownership remain lower than in the US and the UK. For city dwellers a car is often not a necessity and use of public transport is encouraged by city traffic planners who, for example, allow trams priority over motor vehicles. Newer buses and trams have low-level access to be accessible for wheelchair users and for prams.

Although reliable, the public transport in cities such as Zurich and Geneva can be overcrowded during peak hours and expats have found the local behaviour in boarding to be aggressive. In Switzerland it is not usual to queue (wait in line) for public transport. Furthermore, passengers do not wait for those on-board to leave the vehicle before getting on themselves and vulnerable people such as pregnant women, mothers with small children, the elderly and people using crutches can find fellow passengers inconsiderate of their needs. It is also not uncommon for passengers to need prompting to remove bags or their feet from unoccupied seats.

Animals may travel free of charge on buses and trams if carried in a suitable container.

Regional buses operate where there are no train lines and also connect airports to areas without a convenient railway line. There are also a number of night bus services in larger urban areas. In rural areas you will be able to use the Postbus services. The extensive Swiss rail network has removed the need for long-distance bus and coach services in Switzerland.


In Zurich, the public transport network is the ZVV. This includes trams, local buses, local trains, and the Lake Zurich and river Limmat boat services. ZVV covers not only the city of Zurich but also the city of Winterthur and the Lake Zurich area. The ZVV website (available in English) is a comprehensive source of information on all aspects of the network and includes a ticket purchase facility (this part of the website is currently only available in German). You have the choice of a variety of travelcards and tickets to suit your needs. These include:

ZVV NetworkPass
Available on a monthly or annual basis, the NetworkPass entitles you to use the ZVV network for the duration. The cost of your NetworkPass will vary according to how many zones within the network you wish to include. You can either buy a personal pass or a transferable pass. Discounted rates are available for young people aged 25 and under, for the personal pass only. Buying an annual pass will save you 25% compared with buying 12 separate monthly passes.

If you work in Zurich and live in another canton this travelcard will allow you to travel across canton borders. You can buy a monthly or annual pass.

ZVV Annual Travelcard + Mobility
This travelcard adds on the benefits of the Mobility car scheme, where you can use the scheme's cars throughout the region on an as-needed basis, paying per use (based on duration and mileage).

Multiple-Day Tickets
This ticket allows for 6 days travel, each day being valid for an entire 24 hours of travel. You choose which days to use them on. Prices vary depending on how many zones you wish your ticket to cover.

Multiple-Journey Tickets
This option allows you to make 6 journeys using a single ticket. Each journey must be completed within a certain time, between half an hour and 2 hours depending on the zone coverage of your ticket. Fares increase with the number of zones you wish to include on the ticket.

You can also buy travelcards to cover all travel during a single day, or single journey tickets. You can purchase tickets including day travelcards and any ticket upgrades from automatic ticket machines. You will find these at train and bus stops. There are also a number of staffed sales offices at public transport stations.


In Geneva and the surrounding region, buses, trams, boats and rail services are covered by the unireso network. This includes 6 train lines, 6 tram lines, 63 bus lines, 4 boat routes, and the night bus. Unireso have a website (currently only available in French) that details timetables and routes. Certain areas without a regular service additionally have access to the Proxibus on-demand door-to-door service, on payment of a supplement. This service is wheelchair accessible.

You can buy unireso tickets and travelcards online via their website. Season ticket options include transferable tickets and park-and-ride options, and can be bought on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. For one-off journeys in and around Geneva, you can buy either a day travelcard (Carte journalière), a short-distance "Saut de puce" ticket to cover 3 stops (not valid on trains), or a "Tout Genève" ticket that permits unlimited travel on all Geneva public transport services for an hour. All tickets and travelcards that permit rail travel are available in a first class and second class option.

In Geneva, reduced fares are available for the unireso public transport network for children under 16 years. Young people up to the age of 25 and people of retirement age can benefit from reduced tariffs for weekly, monthly and annual season tickets.

Useful Resources

Zurich public transport network
ZVV-Contact, Postfach, CH 8040 Zürich
Tel: 0848 988 988
Email: Use contact form

Geneva public transport network
unireso, c/o Transports publics genevois, Entreprise gestionnaire, Case postale 950, CH 1212 Grand-Lancy 2
Tel: 0900 022 021
Email: info@tpg.ch

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