Swiss Family Card only valid with STS rail pass?

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Bretw1
Bretw1
10 posts
new member
Aug 13, 2019 - 5:55 PM

I hope my questions and itinerary questions help others as well.

We are a family of four traveling in Switzerland early next summer 2020. Our youngest daughter will be 15 years old when we travel.

Am I correct, to qualify for the Swiss Family Card (for our 15 year old to travel free) at least one of the adults must be traveling with one of the Swiss Travel System Rail Passes? Does she qualify for the Swiss Family Card free travel if one of the adults is simply travelling with a paid single ticket as well? I think I already know the answer - just thought I would clarify.

We will be in Switzerland for only four nights - 3 nights Wengen, 1 night Zurich. We think our most cost-effective travel is to buy single tickets because any of the Swiss Travel Passes are too expensive and there is no advantage purchasing one. Please correct me if I am wrong and suggest a Swiss Travel Pass alternative - proposed itinerary below:

1. Day 1 : Zurich Airport arrive 14:25 -> Wengen (Train) 3 hour trek after long flight CHF 44.20 approximate per person price


2. Day 2: Wengen -> Mannichlen (Cable Car) CHF 11.50

Mannichlen -> Kleine Scheidegg (Hike)

Kleine Scheidegg -> Wengen (Train) CHF 12.00 maybe hike back as well

3. Day 3: Wengen -> Lauterbrunnen (Train) CHF 3.40

Lauterbrunnen -> Grutschalp (Cable Car) CHF 4.50

Grutschalp to Murren (Hike)

Murren-> Stechelberg (Cable Car) CHF 5.60 Hike back to Lauterbrunnen or Post Bus CHF 2.20

Lauterbrunnen -> Wengen (Train) 3.40

4. Day 4 : Maybe E-bike Lauterbrunnen Valley before lunch

Lauterbrunnen -> Zurich HB CHF 38.80

or

Lauterbrunnen -> Luzern (couple hour lunch stop) -> Zurich HB CHF 20.30 plus CHF 12.50

5. Day 5: Fly out ZRH 7:40am

Besides the Jungfrau region the above prices are on the high end. If I total all the travel costs above it comes out to about CHF 125.60 per person. Is there is a Swiss Travel Pass that can save us money? If our 15 year old daughter qualifies for free travel we can subtract 25% of the the overall cost - correct?

Also, will we save money by booking early? From what I can tell the prices seem pretty much the same purchasing the day of travel vs a few weeks to a month or two in advance.

Any other tips for saving? I have downloaded the SBB app. I have seen lower fares Luzern-> Zurich HB CHF 8.20 or CHF 6.40. How do I secure better fares?

I welcome all opinions and suggestions and advice or itinerary adjustments. Any must do suggestions are welcome as well.

I will start a new thread on the dreaded subject of car rental vs train option to get to/from Lauterbrunnen for another time. Train travel from ZRH to Lauterbrunnen and back through Luzern is about CHF 77.00 x4 people = CHF 308, or direct CHF 332.

Three day car rental CHF 180 plus about 200 miles gas CHF 50 plus parking Lauterbrunnen train station CHF 45.00 (15.00 x 3 nights) => CHF 275

Am I missing anything?

rockoyster
rockoyster
7071 posts
expert
Aug 13, 2019 - 9:08 PM in reply to Bretw1

Hello Bretw1 and Welcome to MySwissAlps,

Seems to me the prices you are quoting are half-fare prices.

Your assumptions regarding the Swiss Family Card are Correct. It can only be used in conjunction with a Swiss Travel Pass (www.myswissalps.com/sw isstravelpass) or Swiss Half Fare Card (www.myswissalps.com/sw isshalffarecard). The cheap fare you are seeing are most likely Supersaver fares which are tied to a specific train departure time.

Based on your personal itinerary you should read “How to choose the best travel pass” (www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/chooserailpass), download the handy spreadsheet calculator and do the math. The spreadsheet also includes links to the “Where it's valid" page for all available passes. Be sure to check those pages for each pass you are considering. Study the map AND read all the text on those pages to fully understand what is covered by the respective pass.

Have a look at www.myswissalps.com/ca rversustrain.

Last modified on Aug 13, 2019 - 9:10 PM by rockoyster
Bretw1
Bretw1
10 posts
new member
Aug 13, 2019 - 10:36 PM

rockoyster - Thanks for the direction and links.

Good catch "quoting half-fare prices". I simply went to the SBB website and entered a single journey From: & To: for each location. Example first train trip below:

Outward journey

from Zürich Flughafen to Wengen

Zürich Flughafen Wengen Via via Zürich - Olten - Bern - Interlaken Ost - Lauterbrunnen 2nd class

1× Point-to-point Ticket, Half-Fare travelcard

Open tip Point-to-point Ticket Total price CHF 44.20

I did not even notice the default display is for Half-Fare! Strange how did I get into the Half-Fare mode/filter? I did not know the default setting is "Half-Fare travelcard”. Why does SBB have Half-Fare as the default?

Interesting, when I try the same route on the SBB mobile app I see a red button "Tickets from CHF 33.40" However, when I click the red button, the next screen shows-

Point-to-point ticket CHF 88.40

Supersaver CHF 53.20

Saver Day Pass CHF 106.00

City-Ticket CHF 93.40

Etc. etc.

I cannot even find a CHF 33.40 ticket available.

Wow looks like our train expense will be double my initial thoughts!! I need to "re-do" the math considering a travel pass after all. Heck purchasing the least expensive travel pass instantly saves us 25% off our total overall because our 15-year old can travel for free. Pay half-fare travel pass CHF 120 to save CHF 375 (250 – free child plus 125 - half off one adult).

Looks like I need to educate myself and be more careful reading the details. Incidentally, when purchasing train tickets can we reserve seats or are they first come first serve? Also, for some of the Jungfrau tickets are they good for anytime during the day, or a 24-hour window, or are they time specific?

rockoyster
rockoyster
7071 posts
expert
Aug 13, 2019 - 10:52 PM in reply to Bretw1

Sorry for the price shock. 😉

The SBB timetable is designed for locals. They all have annual half-fare cards, hence the default half-fare.

In the SBB app you can edit the passenger details to optionally provide full or half fare prices.

Seat reservations are not necessary in Switzerland apart from the major tourist Panoramic trains.

All train tickets are good for a full day unless you buy Supersaver fares which are tied to a specific train.

Swiss transport is expensive so a pass of one form or another is almost always a better proposition.

Last modified on Aug 13, 2019 - 10:54 PM by rockoyster
Bretw1
Bretw1
10 posts
new member
Aug 14, 2019 - 6:24 AM

Ok, I did some more research and it appears single full fare tickets and a car are more economical compared to purchasing either the Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Half Fare Card.

We have two daughters 15 & 18 years old.

Discounts for youths & students 16 to 25 years old. Anyone between 16 and 25 (inclusive) gets a discount on the Swiss Travel Pass and Swiss Travel Pass Flex. There are no discounts on regular tickets. Swiss Travel Pass Youth: 15% off the pass price for youths/students up to 25 (inclusive)

Does anyone know if this discount includes the Swiss Half Fare Card as well?

I don't think so. I cannot find any information including the Half Fare Card. (still would only save 15% or CHF 18)

Ok I did the math. I hope I did it correctly.

Our Jungfrau travel plan Half-Fare prices below total 28.40 *2 = 56.80 Full Fare * 4 people = CHF 227.20

  • Day 2: Wengen -> Mannichlen (Cable Car) CHF 11.50
  • Mannichlen -> Kleine Scheidegg (Hike)
  • Kleine Scheidegg -> Wengen (Hike)
  • Day 3: Wengen -> Lauterbrunnen (Train) CHF 3.40
  • Lauterbrunnen -> Grutschalp (Cable Car) CHF 4.50
  • Grutschalp to Murren (Hike)
  • Murren-> Stechelberg (Cable Car) CHF 5.60 Hike back to Lauterbrunnen
  • Lauterbrunnen -> Wengen (Train) 3.40

Zurich to Lauterbrunnen return approximate full fare CHF 166.00*4 people = CHF 664

plus Jungfrau travel CHF 227.20 => CHF 891.20 Full Fare Four people

Same trip with three 4-day Swiss Travel Passes and a Swiss Family Card total is CHF 800.85 (including 15% off one youth ticket) Wengen -> Mannichlen (Cable Car) appears to be 25% discount all other routes seem to be included - add CHF 17.25*3=CHF 51.75.

Same trip with ONE 4-day youth Swiss Travel Pass and Swiss Family Card is CHF 684.45 (including 15% off one youth ticket) Wengen -> Mannichlen (Cable Car) appears to be 25% discount all other routes seem to be included add CHF 17.25

I am leaning towards the more economic choice with a car rental just to get us from Zurich to Lauterbrunnen and back. CHF 275 plus Jungfrau Full Fare CHF 227.20 => CHF 502.20

Thanks for the help rockoyster. I am now more confident with realistic numbers. I hope this analysis helps others considering a similar trip. Please let me know if I am missing anything or there are other ideas to consider.

Our trip is not until summer 2020 if we decide to do more train travel during our four days then ONE Youth Swiss Travel Pass and a Swiss Family Card may prove to be the most economical.

Last modified on Aug 14, 2019 - 6:33 AM by Bretw1
rockoyster
rockoyster
7071 posts
expert
Aug 14, 2019 - 6:42 AM in reply to Bretw1

Hello Bret,

Glad to be of assistance.

There is no "youth" version of the Swiss Half-fare Card. But the Swiss Family Card is available with the Swiss Half-fare Card.

Car rental cost will be more than you think unless you have factored in fuel and parking and general hassle of driving (especially driving while tired from long flight).

Last modified on Aug 14, 2019 - 6:48 AM by rockoyster
Bretw1
Bretw1
10 posts
new member
Aug 14, 2019 - 7:07 AM

Rockoyster - Thanks for the quick response.

My bad - I misunderstood if the Swiss Half-Fare Card qualifies the Swiss Family Card. I don't see it mentioned on the website but I just re-read your first reply which includes it.

I love that our youngest daughter may be able to travel free with the Swiss Family Card, but paying CHF 120 for the Half-Fare Card to save CHF 85.20 ( 1 1/2 of the fares for our Jungfrau routes) doesn't add up. Same for the Zurich to L'brunnen return (50% of 166= 83) plus 332 two full fare adults = CHF 415 is still more than 275 for the car.

rockoyster
rockoyster
7071 posts
expert
Aug 14, 2019 - 7:15 AM in reply to Bretw1

Hi Bret,

Your daughter can get a Junior TravelCard for CHF30. She can then travel for free with you. Junior Travel Card is valid for a year but can only be purchased at an SBB Ticket Office.

Last modified on Aug 14, 2019 - 7:16 AM by rockoyster
Bretw1
Bretw1
10 posts
new member
Aug 14, 2019 - 7:22 AM

There we go. I love it. I will look into it.

I was hoping if we kicked this around a smart idea would come up. Can I pick it up a the Zurich airport when we land? I assume there is a SBB Ticket Office at the airport? Are they open on Sundays?

Thanks for your follow up. You willingness to help is appreciated.

rockoyster
rockoyster
7071 posts
expert
Aug 14, 2019 - 7:28 AM in reply to Bretw1

Yes there is an SBB ticket office at the airport and it would definitely be open 7 days a week.

Drive carefully! 😉

ps Have a read of this www.myswissalps.com/ca rversustrain (I'm a BIG fan of the Swiss public transport system).

Bretw1
Bretw1
10 posts
new member
Aug 14, 2019 - 7:40 AM in reply to rockoyster

Oh yes, I am onboard (pun intended) using the trains. We are from Southern California and don’t travel by train very often. We prefer train travel even if it is slightly more expensive, it’s still worth it for our family. However, when there is a big difference in price it does not make economic sense.

Thanks again for all your help and suggestions - happy travels.

Annika
Annika
5834 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 14, 2019 - 9:50 AM

Hi Bretw1!

I doubt whether the car option will be that much cheaper. You'll have to include rental, parking and fuel costs in your plans, and those can add up very quickly. Moreover, quite some of the places you intend to visit can't even be reached by car, basically anything higher up than Lauterbrunnen and Stechelberg. So you'd have to leave your car in Lauterbrunnen and use public transportation (and pay for those trips) anyway. Swiss public transportation is absolutely great, as well as safer and much more environmentally friendly than renting a car.

I would recommend doing all of your trips by public transportation, getting Swiss Half Fare Cards for the adults and a free Swiss Family Card (www.myswissalps.com/sw isshalffarecard/price) for the 15 year old. That would probably be your best bet overall.

Bretw1
Bretw1
10 posts
new member
Aug 14, 2019 - 5:56 PM

Annika,

We definitely prefer to travel by train and public transit. However for our 4-day trip next summer a 3-day car rental seems to make the most sense for our family of four. We understand it is just a mode of transportation from ZRH to Lauterbrunnen and back to the city of Zurich <180 miles. Approximate cost= 180 car + 45 parking Lauterbrunnen + less than 50 fuel equals CHF 275 total.

Fortunately, Rockoyster identified the Junior Travel Card for CHF 30 to cover our 15 year old daughter's fares. We have tried the math with a variety of Travel Pass combinations. For the other 3 travelers, we cannot find an economic solution that is lower than a car rental.

Is there a lower cost option for our family?

Your recommendation to purchase 3 Swiss Half Fare Cards for the adults and getting a free Swiss Family Card for our trip would cost CHF 694.20 compared to Full Fare & CHF 30 Junior Travel Card CHF 698.40.

Paying CHF 30 for the Junior Travel Card + Full Fare for 3 adults Jungfrau tickets + the total costs renting a car would only cost CHF 475.40

Paying CHF 218.80 more to travel by train to and from Lauterbrunnen is not worth it for our family.

Am I missing something? We are still using public transportation once we park the car in Lauterbrunnen. Heck, we even considered returning & picking up a car in Interlaken to avoid the parking fees and one day rental, but the drop off charges are too expensive.

Unfortunately, for us, the CHF 360 for 3 Swiss Half Fare Cards for the adults does not cover their 50% advantage.

I truly enjoy reading and learning from experts and other traveler itineraries and trip reports. I hope others can learn from our analysis as well.

rockoyster
rockoyster
7071 posts
expert
Aug 14, 2019 - 8:49 PM in reply to Bretw1

Hi Bret,

You’ve certainly done the hard work on the numbers. The cheapest I can come up with for Zurich to Lauterbrunnen return by train is CHF342. Thanks 6 Saver Day Passes (www.myswissalps.com/sa verdaypass and bit.ly/2rkekat) at their lowest price of CHF52 plus 1 Junior Travel Card.

How does that appeal? Getting line ball?

Bretw1
Bretw1
10 posts
new member
Aug 15, 2019 - 12:42 AM

Thanks again Rockoyster for your follow up and kind hearted suggestions.

I don't expect anyone to go through all the routes and steps of our plans to find the lowest fares. Good idea though, I will monitor the Saver Day Passes as we get closer to our travel dates. I can always cancel the car reservation in favor of public transportation.

I like these forums to tap into more knowledgeable experts that have thousands of posts, or other travelers with similar experiences. As you can tell, I like to travel efficiently. I just don't want to make any mistakes (like the half-price quotes you pointed out yesterday). Ha Ha! Price Shocker.

Like I said before, hopefully other travelers can pick up a nugget of information from my queries and responses that makes their trips more enjoyable as well. I know I learn a ton from other traveler’s posts & trip reports.

Thanks again.

Annika
Annika
5834 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 15, 2019 - 9:36 AM

Hi Bretw1!

Glad you like the forums, and for sure all of your thorough preparation is very useful for other readers. Now, to return to the price issue once more, I'm not sure if your numbers are entirely correct. Here are some thoughts:

  • a Swiss Half Fare Card (www.myswissalps.com/sw isshalffarecard/price) is more economical than buying regular full-fare tickets for just the mountain trips made from Wengen, the return trips from/to Zurich by either car or train not even included. Here are some full, non-discounted fares you'd have to pay without any discount pass, all prices in 2nd class and retrieved from the official SBB timetable at www.myswissalps.com/ti metable:
    • Wengen-Jungfraujoch return: CHF 200
    • Wengen-Lauterbrunnen return (on your inbound and outbound trip days): CHF 13,60
    • Wengen-Männlichen return: CHF 46
    • Wengen-Grütschalp single journey: CHF 15,80
    • Mürren-Wengen via Stechelberg single journey: CHF 23,30

    This adds up to CHF 298,60 per person. With a Swiss Half Fare Card, you'd pay CHF 120 (purchase costs) + CHF 149,30 (additional half-fare tickets) = CHF 269,30;

  • with a Swiss Half Fare Card, your child can travel along for free on all trips using the Swiss Family Card;
  • if you have a Swiss Half Fare Card anyway, you can look for the cheapest discounted Saver Day Pass rates. They start from CHF 29 for Swiss Half Fare Card holders (www.myswissalps.com/sa verdaypass/price) and getting 6 of them for 3 adults for the inbound and outbound trip would equal CHF 174, without the need of an additional Junior travelcard;
  • parking in Lauterbrunnen would cost CHF 54, not CHF 45;
  • if you'd stop in Lucerne on your way back to Zurich, you'd have to add parking costs for those hours as well;
  • are you sure that CHF 180 is the correct price for a reasonably sized rental car for 4 persons plus luggage for all 4 days? It might be a "from" price for the smallest cars only. Please refer to www.myswissalps.com/ca r/carrental. You mention a 3 day car rental, but your itinerary seems to suggest you'd need from day 1 to 4.

It's a complicated calculation process, I know! I hope all of the input helps you to make a decision :-).

Bretw1
Bretw1
10 posts
new member
Aug 15, 2019 - 11:28 PM

Hi Annika,

Thanks for your input. You brought up some good points to consider.

Sorry for any confusion. Here is a brief clarification of our short trip for late June 2020:

We arrive ZRH on Sunday at 14:25 & depart Thursday at 7:40 in the morning. A total of 4 nights and we must stay in Zurich or someplace close to the airport Wednesday night for the Thursday morning flight. We will be in the Alps 3 nights staying in Wengen arriving Sunday evening (with two full days and ½ day Wednesday). We have a tentative plan for two easy to easy/moderate hikes using the local cable cars & trains to access the trails.

Here is how I calculated the transportation rates.

Sunday - Lauterbrunnen-Wengen single journey: CHF 6,80

Monday - Wengen-Männlichen single journey: CHF 23 -> Hike back to Wengen via Kleine Scheidegg

Tuesday - Wengen-Grütschalp single journey: CHF 15,80 -> Hike to Murren Next: Mürren-Stechelberg single journey: CHF 11,20 -> Hike the valley floor (family selfie at each of the 72 waterfalls) back to Lauterbrunnen Next: Lauterbrunnen-Wengen single journey: CHF 6,80

Wednesday - Wengen-Lauterbrunnen single journey: CHF 6,80 Drive back to Zurich with a possible stop in Lucerne with a few hours parking cost

This adds up to CHF 70.40 *3 adults plus CHF 30 for Junior Travel Card (Total CHF 241,20). (math in my previous posts did not included every leg from/to Wengen)

For the car, we already have a cancelable reservation:

Pick up ZRH airport Sunday - Return Zurich HB Wednesday $180.09 USD = CHF 176

Car type – Volvo V40 or similar (mpg 22 city & 29 highway) -> Fuel cost approx. CHF 50 for <200 miles roundtrip

3 days parking Lauterbrunnen CHF 42,00

Total car cost: approximately CHF 268.00

Considerations:

Our family decided not to go to Jungfraujoch (Top of Europe) because it appeared too expensive. Are we making a big mistake to come so close then not make the trip to the top? Is it worth it? Also, with our limited time, we are skipping Grindelwald and that side of the mountain.

Because we plan to not take full advantage of all the public transportation in the Alps, single leg full price journeys (with CHF 30 Junior Card) seems the best choice for our family. This may not be the best for other travelers who have more time and plan to travel more by train & cable car than us.

We may want to consider a larger car to give the girls a little more room in the back seat. Our car type is too small for 4 adults with regular size luggage. We travel light. Each family member has the same carry-on roller suitcase (small enough for the Euro discount airlines)

Curious for our hike back to Wengen via Kleine Scheidegg how easy is it to catch the train at Wengernalp or Allmend in case the girls get tired or dad’s knees ache or dad gets blisters? The stations appear fairly small. Are there ticket machines or ticket offices?

Incidentally, we may decide to buy the Saver Day Pass tickets after all. My understanding each ticket is for a specific train & time. How much time does a typical traveler need to add from plane to train at ZRH airport? We land at 14:25 (assuming flight is on time coming from Vienna). What is a comfortable time to catch the train?

Our trip is still 10 months away. We are locked into our flights only. We have plenty of time to cancel plans and consider all options and suggestions.

rockoyster
rockoyster
7071 posts
expert
Aug 16, 2019 - 3:45 AM in reply to Bretw1

Hi Bret,

Incidentally, we may decide to buy the Saver Day Pass tickets after all. My understanding each ticket is for a specific train & time.

With a Saver Day Pass "tickets" don't come into the equation. The Saver Day Pass is valid all day for any train. Regular train tickets are valid all day for a specific route. Supersaver tickets (when available) are tied to a specific train on the given route.

How much time does a typical traveler need to add from plane to train at ZRH airport? We land at 14:25 (assuming flight is on time coming from Vienna). What is a comfortable time to catch the train?

I am arriving at around 2:30pm next month and am planning to be on the 15:46 to Bern. I have not flown into Zurich before but from what I have heard it is a very efficient airport. So I am allowing an hour and picking the first available train after that. If I get through quicker I'll get an earlier train. If the plane is delayed I'll get a later train. No drama - direct trains to Bern depart xx:18 and xx:46. With an SDP you can come back the more scenic (Golden Pass) route via Brienz and Luzern.

Bretw1
Bretw1
10 posts
new member
Aug 16, 2019 - 5:57 AM

Thanks Rockoyster I meant the Supersaver train specific ticket. I misquoted the saver day pass. All these names are too similar for me but I am slowly learning.

Good to know to give at least an hour buffer at the airport and hope for no flight delay. I think I know the answer but, if someone misses the train on a supersaver ticket do they lose it or can they apply the value to another ticket on a later train on the same route?

Annika
Annika
5834 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 16, 2019 - 6:03 AM in reply to Bretw1

Hi Bretw1,

I see, if you drop the Jungfraujoch trip that does make a difference. Whenever the price difference between car versus train options isn't that impressive, I'd always choose public transportation over car rental for a safer, hassle-free and environmentally friendly journey. But in the end it's of course up to you! And you're right, you have plenty of time to think about your plans and adjust reservations, tickets or passes. Please find out about the difference between the Saver Day Pass, regular tickets and Supersaver tickets through the links below:

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