Swiss rail passes too complicated

Swiss rail passes too complicated

Share this page on Facebook Share this page on Google+ Share this page on Twitter Print this page
Create an account to receive an e-mail when someone replies to this thread
Posts: 14. This thread is closed.
mikesc60
mikesc60
74 posts
active member
Jun 27, 2015 - 9:58 AM

Maybe 90% of queries on the forum are about rail passes. The system is too complicated - why can't Swiss rail simplify it? Failing that maybe there should be an app in which you enter a provisional itinerary and it calculates the cost of the different options.

Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 27, 2015 - 11:08 AM

Hi Mike,

I understand where you're coming from. There's a lot to choose from. I also feel that some of the passes could be simplified. As you probably know as an active member here, that is something we can't change. We can explain and help, but we don't design or issue rail passes.

Regarding the number of different passes: I actually think that's an advantage. Different people have different travel plans. They have short or long stays, in one or more base towns, do many or some day trips, which can either involve much or just a little traveling. Some don't mind buying tickets as they go, others prefer flexibility and convenience. So there's a pass for (nearly) everyone. If saving money is important, one can follow the step by step plan to find the best pass. The steps are not complicated I think, but it is time consuming. An app could help but is pretty complex to create if 100% accuracy is the goal. I usually have this approach: the two basic passes that fit most people's plans are the Swiss Travel Pass and the Swiss Half Fare Card. If that does not seem to be the case, it's time to do the math.

Once you know which pass you prefer you still have to decide where to buy it, but I guess we've made that pretty easy (at least I hope so) with this explanation and the Price section in each of our pass pages.

lkdf62
lkdf62
17 posts
new member
Jun 28, 2015 - 4:42 PM in reply to Arno

Mikec6o,

The offerings for travel passes do seem complicated and confusing BUT, if you have a fixed itinerary and access to the SBB timetable app you can make a very informed decision with just a little effort!

The structure of the pass offerings really does offer a pass for every traveler! I would like to see the Swiss Travel pass offered with an "add-on" option that would allow travelers to buy an extra day or days to fill in the gaps between the current offerings.

Using your itinerary and the SBB app you can look up the fares required to complete the itinerary you have planned. Just enter the starting city, the destination city, and the date and time and a few more details and the fares will be visible. Then look at the fare for your desired route/time and record the cost for that particular day of your itinerary. (I use a MS Excel spreadsheet because I am comfortable with the tool but a sheet of paper with each day of your itinerary will work just fine.) Then select the next day of your itinerary and repeat the process for the remainder of your itinerary. Don't forget to include bus and boat travel as many of these costs are included in the travel passes. Total the daily expenses and compare the total to the offerings for travel passes!

That is a basic summary of the cost of travel portion but there is more to consider.

Some passes include discounts on attractions such as cable cars, museums, etc. So again, look at your itinerary to see which of the attractions you plan to visit and add these to you daily travel costs. Total the daily expenses and compare the total to the offerings for the travel passes.

The only remaining consideration is non-qualitative - you can't measure it directly with dollars. That consideration is the value you assign to convenience AND flexibility and you and your traveling companion(s) have to make this determination.

For me the flexibility is most important when I consider weather impacts on outdoor activities and the discounts on attractions which are also very important.

I think you will feel better about your itinerary and the activities you have planned for your trip if you take the time to "do the math"!

This summary is based on my experiences and I hope that the information helps you understand the process that I used to decide how to plan my trips. You will have to develop a process that works for you.

The decision process is simple and revealing.

mikesc60
mikesc60
74 posts
active member
Jun 29, 2015 - 3:08 PM in reply to lkdf62

If you are travelling in the Jungfrau region for example, it's just an added complication working out how the passes apply to the mountain railways. There are a range of maps to consult and it's not always easy to find the right one. The information you need seems to be scattered between different web pages at times and when you do think you've found it, there is often one nagging question in your mind that is still agonisingly left unanswered!

So a big thank you to Arno and Anika and myswissalps...always ready to step in and help out when you need them to!

lkdf62
lkdf62
17 posts
new member
Jun 29, 2015 - 4:16 PM in reply to mikesc60

mikesc6o,

I understand your concern. Perhaps the services of a travel agent who specializes in travel in Switzerland would be best for you. I used a travel agent for a few of my early trips to Switzerland and found the experience to be satisfactory - complete with very detailed and well documented itineraries.

Annika
Annika
4417 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 29, 2015 - 5:00 PM

We're glad to help! As lkdf62 suggests, using a travel agent prevents you having to look into all of this. There are several packages and even customized holiday packages, so in such a case it's all up to the agent to provide you with the best pass. You can find these options here. If you prefer to book and plan yourself we welcome your questions. Happy traveling!

Last modified on Jun 29, 2015 - 5:01 PM by Annika
mikesc60
mikesc60
74 posts
active member
Jun 29, 2015 - 9:15 PM

Thanks!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Jun 30, 2015 - 1:46 AM in reply to mikesc60

Mike-

Some of those railways are private enterprises, some are part of the Swiss Rail Union.

Luckily, you can work out schedules for all, from the same website. And, for the Mountain Cable Cars (etc.) or Cog Railways, and the lake boats.

As noted in an earlier post, the system provides very good options for a great variety of travelers. But, you do have to work at it to figure it out. If you don't want to work at it, you can take the other option...spend a lot more. Get a Swiss Rail Pass for the total time of your trip,and pay a supplement on excursion lines, when and if you come to them.

Simple, easy to use, solves all you r concerns, and substitutes spending more money for working out the system.

You can have it either way. But, if it is cheaper you have to work at it. Otherwise, the extra cost is to pay for avoiding the work.

To each his own.

mikesc60
mikesc60
74 posts
active member
Jun 30, 2015 - 9:05 AM in reply to Slowpoke

I think all the answers here here have confirmed that there is no easy answer; that painstaking research and calculations are the only way! I still think therefore that there is a place for SBB or the Swiss tourist Board or its equivalent to commission an app. An app where you enter your itinerary, select options for journeys such as 'transfer', 'scenic route' and receive output of total cost listed according to different pass types and pass combinations :) !

Last modified on Jun 30, 2015 - 9:06 AM by mikesc60
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Jun 30, 2015 - 12:42 PM in reply to mikesc60

<<"I still think therefore that there is a place for SBB or the Swiss tourist Board or its equivalent to commission an app.">>

It sounds like a good idea, and since the travel industry tries to make it easier for you to spend your money, it could well be something they would come up with. I'm guessing it could be done directly from the existing rail timetable database. The information is all there now, right?

If there were a way to make money at it, it might happen sooner.

Not too many years ago the existence of a site like the Swiss Rail site would have been difficult to conceive of, and now it exists.

Another example.... a few years ago a private individual wrote a program that showed a map, whereupon was displayed the locations on the tracks where on the tracks all the trains were and showed their motions, all calculated from the time table. Now, it has been incorporated in the SBB site. I ran across it the other day. Buried down n the menus somewhere.

Send your idea to the SBB...

mikesc60
mikesc60
74 posts
active member
Jun 30, 2015 - 4:35 PM in reply to Slowpoke

I don't think it is such a novel idea. I also wonder whether this site would have more clout in suggesting such a thing.

Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 30, 2015 - 5:06 PM

Actually such a tool is on our to do list for quite some time now. However, it's a huge investment and will never be 100% accurate for everyone. So we'll definitely keep this in mind but I can't make promises. Meanwhile the step by step plan is the way to go, and we may add an Excel sheet to that page so that it's only a matter of entering the numbers.

mikesc60
mikesc60
74 posts
active member
Jun 30, 2015 - 8:30 PM in reply to Arno

Thanks Arno...good to know! I'm sure a spreadsheet appropriately configured would be a very good start! I understand that it could be difficult to get 100% accuracy whatever method is used given the number of variables and permutations, but generally a broad comparison of the main alternatives should be enough to point the user in the right direction. Thereafter I imagine the complexity and therefore cost of setting up an app (for example) would rise exponentially for every percentage point gain in accuracy if 100% is to be achieved!

Do myswissalps have funds (or connections with potential sponsors) with which you could sponsor a competition for potential app developers, with a free high class holiday in the Alps for the winner perhaps? (Maybe commercial travel or tourism companies would like to see their name on such an app, if not the Swiss tourist Board or its equivalents to help promote more visits?) Just saying!!

Last modified on Jun 30, 2015 - 8:35 PM by mikesc60
Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 1, 2015 - 8:20 AM

I'll certainly keep your suggestions in mind. Outsourcing such a project is indeed one of the options, although we'll probably start with the downloadable spreadsheet.

Thanks a lot for your input!

ALL SWISS RAIL PASSES

Find out how the several passes work, what they cost and where to buy.

More

HOW TO PICK THE BEST PASS

Having trouble finding the right rail pass? Learn how to pick the one that best fits your plans.

More

THINGS TO DO IN SWITZERLAND

Suggestions for day trips and hiking trails in the Swiss Alps.

More

THE HOTELS WE SUGGEST

Browse the hotels that we like. Budget hotels, hotels near the rail stations, mid class hotels, luxurious 5-star hotels, airport hotels and more.

More

More on MySwissAlps.com

Swiss tips in your mailbox

Sign up to receive our newsletter and the latest forum messages. The best way to prepare for your trip!

Sign up

Get a customized itinerary for your trip

Let Swiss travel consultants create a customized itinerary. They can arrange for your entire trip.

More
© MySwissAlps.com 2002-2016