Transport Policy

BLS explains its position

Rail system reform, modal shift, infrastructure financing, regional transport: as the largest integrated railway company in Switzerland after SBB, BLS has a special responsibility to help shape transport policy in Switzerland. We accept this responsibility and therefore seek to maintain a dialogue with public authorities and political decision-makers.

Position on current policy topics

The future of Direct Transport (Direkter Verkehr) Position paper

The Direkter Verkehr (Direct Transport – DV) system plays a key role in the success of the overall public transport system in Switzerland. DV makes it possible for passengers to travel in most public transport networks with just one ticket.

At the same time, such a simple and efficient system requires complex coordination between the approximately 250 participating transport companies with regard to prices and ticket categories, tickets sales and the distribution of costs and revenue.

BLS is committed to further developing this system in line with future requirements and the following objectives:

  • Keeping things simple for customers.
  • Ensuring fair and transparent cooperation.
  • Implementing modifications on the basis of a holistic approach

Cornerstone of the Swiss public transport system

Direct Transport (DV) ensures that passengers only need to use one ticket to travel in most of the public transport networks in Switzerland, regardless of the mode of transport used or the company that operates the transport network in question. In other words, DV creates a nationwide fare network that covers the routes operated by most of the public transport companies in Switzerland. The GA travelcard and Half-Fare travelcard are two of the most well-known DV products.

The DV system is governed by Article 16f of the Swiss Passenger Transport Act. This article stipulates that transport companies establish appropriate organisational structures for DV and cooperate with one another to manage and maintain the system. The DV system coordinates the distribution of income generated with flat-rate tickets. It also manages fares and coordinates and standardises transport ticket sales. The system's highest-level supervisory body is the "Strategischer Ausschuss Direkter Verkehr StAD" (Strategic Committee for Direct Transport), which is made up of the CEOs of the most important public transport companies, as well as the director of the Swiss Association of Public Transport.

A total of 18 regional fare networks exist alongside the DV system in Switzerland. The coordination of fares and ticket categories between these networks and the DV system poses a huge challenge for the public transport system in Switzerland.

Development of regional rail passenger transport  Position paper

Regional rail passenger transport is a major success story in Switzerland: demand continues to rise unabated, high-quality passenger transport services are being continually further developed and improved, and the transport companies have become much more efficient over the last few years.

However, the ability to finance the measures necessitated by continually growing market demands in the long term presents a major challenge. This challenge cannot be met simply by repeatedly searching for new sources of financing. It's also important to design the control and incentive systems for authorities that order transport services, the companies that provide them and the passengers who use them in a manner that ensures that the regional passenger transport system can be further developed and efficiently operated at optimal capacity over the long term.

BLS is therefore committed to the further development of the current procedure for ordering regional transport services. In order to ensure optimal management of the system, financial planning security needs to be improved, transport companies need to be supported in their efforts to increase their entrepreneurial responsibility and users need to bear an appropriate share of the costs.

BLS is calling for a reform of the current regional passenger transport system in line with the following objectives:

  • Securing binding long-term financing
  • Ensuring more extensive process control by the Federal Government
  • Creating entrepreneurial incentives for transport companies
  • Increasing the level of user financing

Potential financial imbalance in the regional passenger transport system

Stagnating revenue

  • Stagnating government payments (pressure to cut costs in the public sector)
  • Limited scope for fare adjustments (political acceptance / Price Supervisor)

Rising costs

  • Investment in rolling stock
  • Increasing requirements (in terms of quality and safety)
  • Rising track access prices (2017)
  • Financing requirement for pension fund (value fluctuation reserve)
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