Despite one of the world’s most efficient train networks, Swiss residents still overwhelmingly prefer hopping in their cars than getting on trains or other forms of transport. Of the 90 minutes an average Swiss resident spends moving every day they spend the vast majority of it in a car.
In 2015, two thirds of trips were made in cars. Of the total average distance of 36.8 km travelled per day, 23.8 km, or 65% of it was covered in a car. Far behind, in second place, was train travel (7.5 km), followed by walking (1.9km) and other forms of transport (3.8 km). The percentage of time spent in cars was even higher, unsurprising given an average car speed of 37.1 km/h compared to 62.2 km/h for trains.
82% of the population surveyed has access to public transport within 500 metres of home, with 60% being within 300 metres of it.
The most common reason for choosing to take the car was that it was simpler and more comfortable (58%), followed by length of journey (21%) and no alternative (17%). Only 7% of those questioned said they chose the car because of cost.
- Swiss are world’s train travel champions (Le News)
The overall time spent moving fell 8% over the ten years to 2015. In 2005, the average time was 98 minutes. By 2015, it was 90. This change was driven largely by faster trains.
Trains across the rösti graben
German speakers were more likely to take the train. They were far more likely to hold a discount train pass. 42% had a half price card compared to 26% of French speakers and only 15% of Italian speakers.
The most frequent users of public transport were residents of Basel. An average resident covered 43% of their distance by public transport. The percentages were far lower in Zurich (32%), Bern (27%), Vaud (20%) and Geneva (24%).
Average distance travelled was strongly associated with income. Those on incomes below CHF 4,000 per month covered an average 22.5 km per day, compared to 51.6 km for those earning over CHF 12,000 per month.
If you have wealth and want to flaunt it, it might make sense to buy a bike. Rates of bike ownership rise more steeply with wealth than car ownership. 93% of those with income over CHF 12,000 owned a bike or electric bike, compared to only 41% of those with income under CHF 4,000. Car ownership showed a smaller gap of 91% (12k+) to 53% (under 4k).
Fahrräder fans (Vélos if you live in Basel)
Residents of German speaking Switzerland leave the others for dead in the bike race. 78% of them own bikes or electric bikes compared to only 60% of French speakers and 42% of Italian speakers.
Unsurprisingly, those with narrow waistlines travel further and do less of it in cars.
Those at the thin end of the spectrum cover 46% of their daily distance by public transport (38%), on foot (6%) or by bike (2%). Those in the heftiest category cover only 22% of their daily kilometres by these means.
On average travel was for pleasure. Time spent travelling broke down into: leisure (50%), work (19%), shopping (14%), study (7%) and other (10%).
How could public transport be improved?
27% of those questioned said it should be cheaper, 21% wished it was more frequent, 10% wanted greater comfort (for example more seats) and 24% said nothing needed changing.
Who should pay?
Nearly half (49%) thought tolls on tunnels made sense, 40% were OK to raise the price of motorway vignettes and 26% approved of peak pricing on public transport.
The study was based on 57,090 interview responses.