The idea of encouraging greater use of public transport with a cheaper travel pass has been around for a long time. As Switzerland’s federal election approaches and Swiss Rail fare increases are set to kick in at the end of 2023 the idea has come back into the political spotlight.
More specifically members of the Socialist, Green and SolidaritéS parties in the cantons of Vaud and Neuchâtel have come up with the catchy idea of a CHF 1,000 annual train pass funded by taxes, reported RTS. The idea has been presented to cantonal parliaments and calls have been made for a federal initiative for such a pass.
The reasoning behind the low-priced annual pass is that it is a vital step on the path to lowering transport emissions and combatting climate change.
However, other parties such as the PLR/FDP are opposed to the idea. They point out that Swiss public transport is already behind on infrastructure investment. Cutting revenue by reducing ticket prices would mean even less money for critical investment in maintenance and network expansion. And using taxes to fund a low-cost pass would add to already heavy public subsidies – Swiss Rail already gets around a third of its revenue from taxes1 – and increase the iniquity of using the taxes of those who rarely or never use the service to fund it. Finally, they point out that the transport network has already largely reached its capacity limits and a cheap pass would risk overloading it.
1 29% of Swiss Rail’s revenue came from public funding in 2022 – see financial results here.