Getting around in Switzerland by bus
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Backing up the already comprehensive train network is a yet more comprehensive system of buses, which get to every single village and hamlet in the country, covering ground – such as in the high mountains or deep countryside – left untouched by the trains. Many travellers don’t even consider using the buses, imagining them to be too slow or too much hassle to figure out, but this is a shame since buses are not there to compete with the trains but to complement them, and they can get you to all kinds of out-of-the-way places – and some essential ones – quickly and easily. In addition, all Swiss travel passes are valid for travel on buses as well as trains (a plus-point over the limited-validity European train passes).

With Swiss pragmatism, bus stations are nearly always located in the forecourt of train stations. Even more handily, the bus and train timetables are co-ordinated together, ensuring watertight connections from one to the other. Perhaps uniquely in Europe, Swiss buses stick to their schedules with utter reliability – another leap of faith for many visitors is to learn to trust what a bus timetable says.

Most bus-lines in Switzerland are operated, in an endearing remnant of pioneer times, by the post office. These yellow postbuses – with Die Post, La Poste or La Posta on the side – once brought the mail to remote rural communities, but nowadays concentrate solely on transporting people and their goods. Various regions have their own local bus companies, either instead of or as well as postbuses, but all are equally reliable. The largest postbus stations in Switzerland are at Sion and Chur, both set amidst mountainous but populated landscapes too difficult for trains to access. Note that some longer, more difficult or direct bus-routes – such as over the Alpine passes – require either advance seat reservation and/or a small supplement of Fr.5–10 to be paid: check in the timetables or with bus-station staff ahead of time.

For a flat fee of Fr.12 you can send unaccompanied baggage ahead by postbus to a post office for picking up later – a particularly handy service for hikers using buses to reach remote countryside trails and wanting to walk unencumbered.

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