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Travel with the bus and train: Your rights

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Those who travel often with public transportation know there are unspoken rules for travelers. But did you know that you also have official passenger rights? For example, you are entitled to compensation if your train is delayed. We have summarized the most important information for you here.

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    Leo Loosli

    Leo Loosli is a legal expert and works at AXA-ARAG in Market Management and as an expert in the areas of contract, inheritance, family, and personal law.

When do I receive compensation if my train or bus is delayed – and how much should I receive?

As of a one hour delay, you are entitled to compensation of 25% of the ticket price. For a delay of two hours or more, you will be reimbursed 50% of the ticket price paid.

To claim compensation, the compensation must therefore come to at least CHF 5. This means that for a one-hour delay, your ticket must have cost at least CHF 20, and CHF 10 for a two-hour delay. If you cannot start your journey because of a delay, then you are entitled to full reimbursement of the ticket price.

In addition, if the delay is over an hour, the transportation company must also offer passengers beverages, and for longer delays, even food – provided this is available.

What is the level of compensation when the train fails to turn up at all?

If a train is canceled, you are compensated the price of the train ticket. However, there is no entitlement to additional compensation – if you miss your flight because of the delay, for example.

Am I entitled to hotel accommodation if I do not reach my destination because of a delay?

Yes. If you miss the last connecting train, you are entitled to a suitable accommodation including breakfast, as well as transportation from and back to the train station. 

I have a GA Travelcard. What compensation do I receive as a card holder?

In the case of delays over an hour, holders of subscriptions to public transportation are to be reimbursed the daily value of the subscription (e.g. price of the subscription divided by 365 days in the case of an annual subscription). A maximum of 10% of the subscription’s value can be reimbursed over the entire term of the subscription. 

To claim your compensation as a subscription holder, you must prove that you were affected by a delay. 
No proof is required. 

Children’s Co-Travelcards, Junior Travelcards, FVP Travelcards (discounted prices for employees of the transportation company), and Half-Fare Travelcards are excluded from compensation.

What are the current passenger rights based on?

Passenger rights in public transportation are a part of the Public Transport Act, the Ordinance on Public Transport , and the provisions of the  Ordinance on the Organization of Railway Infrastructure (OBI), which entered into force on January 1, 2021. These rights obligate transport companies to reimburse or compensate passengers in the event of cancellations and delays of more than an hour. 

Where do these rights apply?

These passenger rights apply in all forms of public transportation, regardless of the route or means of transportation. However, delays of public cableways and ships are excluded. 

When do I have to buy the ticket for it to be deemed valid?

The ticket must be purchased before the service is used. A valid ticket must be purchased once you have entered the means of public transportation, or before it starts moving at the latest. 

How is the transportation of pets governed?

As a rule, small dogs with an instep height of up to 30 centimeters can travel free of charge in bags, baskets, and other suitable receptacles – and the same applies for cats, rabbits, and other small animals. For larger dogs, you must pay for a discounted second-class ticket. However, individual transportation companies and networks may also have stipulated other rules.

Am I allowed to take my bike with me on the bus or train?

You have the right to take your bike with you – with the right ticket. For certain connections, you must also reserve a bike space.

You do not need a bike ticket for:

  • Foldable bikes in the folded position,
  • Cycle trailers,
  • Bikes of children under the age of 6,
  • Shopping cars,
  • E-scooters and normal scooters if the wheel diameter is less than 12 inches,
  • and bikes in transportation case if the front wheel has been disassembled and stored in the case.

When it comes to buses, every transportation company or network has its own rules regarding the transportation of bikes. Generally, however, transportation is allowed with the corresponding bike ticket. Restrictions apply for certain lines or during peak times. 

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Are there guidelines regarding baggage size and the number of pieces allowed?

The number of bags per person is not restricted. However, the individual piece of luggage may not exceed 1.2 x 0.8 x 1.0 meters or 25 kilograms. Skis or snowboards are excluded from this measurement. However, they must be packed in a travel case.

What are the rules for strollers in buses and trains? 

No restrictions apply to strollers. However, they must be placed in such a way that they do not hinder other passengers. Only then can passenger safety be ensured – in the event of an evacuation, for example. 

Can the bus driver prohibit me from eating in the Postbus?

Yes, provided the transportation company has stipulated this in its general terms and conditions. The transportation company can define rules for the  conduct of passengers during travel (German). 

If your food drips and ruins the seat covers, the transportation company can require you to pay the cleaning costs.

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