Less traffic was one silver lining of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, long hours spent in traffic jams returned to Switzerland in 2021. On some stretches the waiting is worse.
A report published this week by Switzerland’s Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) is grim reading for road users in a hurry.
The Covid pandemic led to a sharp drop (-17.6%) in traffic on the national road network in 2020. Then in 2021, as the country got back on the roads, it rose by 8% to 27.4 billion vehicle kilometres. Traffic levels in 2021 were 89.1% of the level in 2019 before Covid-19 struck and so still have some way to go to return to pre-pandemic usage levels.
However, while overall traffic in 2021 remained below pre-Covid levels, some stretches of road were worse than before. The peak number of vehicles passing through the Gotthard tunnel in August 2021 exceeded numbers over the 5 previous years. During August 2021, the daily (24h) number of vehicles going through the tunnel peaked at almost 27,500. In prior years the same figure peaked at a bit over 25,000. The Gotthard tunnel, which forms part of the A2, has a single lane in each direction.
Another 6-year record was reached on the A9 near Sierre. Here peak 24-hour vehicle numbers in August 2021 approached 18,000, a marked increase on the 5 years before.
The worst route for time spent in traffic jams in 2021 was the A1 with around 10,400 hours of traffic jams. This route accounted for around 31.9% of the total traffic jams in Switzerland. The worst sections were the northern bypass in the Zurich and Aargau region, the stretches between Aarau-Ost and Limmattal, Zurich-Ost and Winterthur and between the Egerkingen and Luterbach junctions and Rubigen and Schönbühl in the Bern-Solothurn region.
The next worst was the A2, particularly Zurich’s western bypass and the Gotthard tunnel.
The maps below show the worst traffic spots in the Zurich, Basel and Lake Geneva regions in terms of hours of traffic jams by stretch of road and direction.