Half-Fare Card purchase question, from the U.S.A.

Half-Fare Card purchase question, from the U.S.A.

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Posts: 6. This thread is closed.
famvacations
famvacations
3 posts
new member
Jul 22, 2013 - 6:20 PM
We will be in the Bernese Oberland in early August for 3-4 days. We already have train tickets from Zurich to Interlaken Ost purchased through an online vacation packager. I am trying to decide whether there is enough of an advantage to buying the Half-Fare Card for each of us before we leave.

Currently we are staying in Interlaken for 1 night and Lauterbrunnen for 3 nights. We plan to hike in Wengen, Murren, and Grimelwald. We will take the gondola up to the Schilthorn one day. We may or may not go to the top of the Jungfrau on the train trip, which I know is the most expensive excursion. Another excursion may be to see the castle on Lake Thun.

Does it make sense to purchase the half-fare card to reduce the cost of four days of transportation in the area? On the Swiss Railways web site I could only see purchases in Euros or CHF. It looks to be $96 euros per card. To make it worthwhile we would have to save at least $288 Euros with the half fare discount. If we go on the Jungfrau trip, the half fare card could make it worthwhile. Otherwise, I wonder if with our short stay and limited trips we would be better off just paying full price at the ticket station for our trips over 4 days?

Thank you for any advice or insight you can five. It is truly a Swiss puzzle!
Scwolbarst
Scwolbarst
5 posts
new member
Jul 23, 2013 - 9:02 AM
We just came back from the area. What a gorgeous place. The weather has a lot to do with what you do. We happen to luck out. We stayed in Murren which worked well for us. To answer your question about what pass you should use, if at all, I will give the same advise others gave to me. You have to add up the cost for both options and go with what works best. Sorry. I elected to go with a four day Swiss Pass. But we were traveling from Lausanne to Murren and then to Lucerne. I could not tell you if it was cheaper because it was a pain thinking of all the cable car trips and whatnot. It was convenient since I just walked on the train, cable cars and that was it. We did go up to Schilthorn, which still cost over $40 each.

I have to say this area was the highlight of our trip.

Good luck and enjoy.

Steve (USA)
Arno
Arno
7342 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 23, 2013 - 12:13 PM
Hello famvacations,

I agree with Steve that doing the math is the only way to be sure, but you can only do so if your plans are set. Full fare tickets are rarely the most economical choice if mountain transport is part of the plans. With a Swiss Half Fare Card or other pass, you will already save about CHF 60 on a trip from Interlaken Ost to the Schilthorn and return. That's half the price of the Swiss Half Fare Card itself. If you don't go to either Thun or the Jungfrau, you may reach the break even point, but in other cases I think you'd save. All about the Swiss Half Fare Card can be found here.

Two alternatives you may want to look into are the 3-day Jungfrau VIP Pass (3 days of free traveling in the Jungfrau region) and the 4-day Regional Pass Bernese Oberland (4-days of free traveling in a larger area, including Thun).

I hope this helps. Enjoy your stay!
famvacations
famvacations
3 posts
new member
Jul 23, 2013 - 11:19 PM
Thank you for your replies. I think the half-fare card may save us a bit as we take a few trains and cable cars in our three days. (With the 3-day pass for the Jungfrau region we would have to be riding trains or trams all the time to get the use of the pass and justify the cost. And it does not appear to cover the Schilthorn trip in the pass.)

The half-fare card is CHF 120 per person, CHF 360 for three people in our party. With the half-fare card it will defray the cost of the trip from Murren up to Schilthorn. My guess is that for three people the cost of trains and gondolas in the Bernese Oberland mountains will be about $700-800 USD for three days. ($385 USD for three half fare cards, $120 USD for half-fare from Murren to Schilthorn for three, plus $200-300 for half-price fares on trains to and from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and around the mountain villages.)

My hope is the $128 USD cost per half-fare card will prove to be a "bargain" compared with the full-fare ticket costs at the station. I have a head ache figuring this by now!

Last question: Can I buy the half-fare card at a train station on arrival in CH, or should I buy it on the Internet now?
Arno
Arno
7342 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 24, 2013 - 3:47 AM
Hello famvacations,

In the worst case, if you travel much less than planned, the Swiss Half Fare Card will result in spending the same amount as full fare tickets, but it's much more likely you save a lot with it. I wouldn't worry about it. As for where to buy: please review the page I provided as all the points of sale are explained in the detail there. In short: it's either buying at a staffed station or ordering online and have it shipped to any Swiss address (e.g. your hotel in Interlaken) or your home address.
famvacations
famvacations
3 posts
new member
Jul 24, 2013 - 11:36 AM
Thanks again, I will buy the half-fare cards at the Zurich train station at the airport.

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