Switzerland’s transport authority (OFT) recently gave Domo Swiss Express SA, a Zurich-based bus company, a green light to run three routes across Switzerland.
The first will run from Zurich to Lugano, via Basel and Luzern, the second from St. Gallen to Geneva airport, via Zurich and Bienne, and the third from Chur to Sion, via Zurich and Bern. Services are expected to run twice daily.
The bus company, which will accept Swiss half fare and GA travelcards, is the first to be allowed to transport passengers between cities in Switzerland. Currently, foreign bus services can pick up and drop off passengers in Switzerland but they cannot run point to point within Swiss territory.
The service, which is scheduled to start on 25 March 2018, will be around half the price of the train. For example a trip from Geneva to Zurich by train costs CHF 89 (CHF 44.50 with a half-price card) compared to CHF 46 (CHF 23 with a half-price card) on the bus.
While the new service offers big financial savings, it will exact a toll on your time. A trip from Geneva to Zurich by train typically takes less than 3 hours. By bus, the same journey could take around five hours after including traffic and stops.
The bus service could have a time advantage on some routes however. One is the connection between Vevey (assuming it stops there) and Fribourg, a weakness in Swiss Rail’s network affecting anyone travelling from south of Vevey to Fribourg and onwards. A journey of around 40 minutes by road, the trip from Vevey to Fribourg takes around an extra 30 minutes by rail. Trains backtrack from Vevey to Lausanne before heading eastward to Fribourg. If the new service does stop in Vevey, many travellers will finally be able to avoid an unnecessary trip to Lausanne when heading east across the rösti graben.