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Swiss trains are unique. Some routes have panoramic cars while other routes have playgrounds for small children. One route you can arrange to drive with the conductor and on another I was once in a large-windowed car in front of the engine looking down the track. I love traveling by train because I can read a book, play a card game, avoid traffic jams and get up to walk around.

So why don’t I travel more often by train? Economics. When you own a car it’s cheaper to drive than buy tickets for every member of the family. That is unless you can benefit from some of the special offers on the market.

FAMILY DAY PASS

Family Train PassOn offer now until May 25, 2014 is the “Carte Journalière Famille” which is a day pass valid for 2 adults and 5 children up to the age of 16. You must have a minimum of 1 adult and 1 child. The price of this day pass is CHF 85.00 and it includes trains, buses and boats throughout Switzerland. Another great thing about this pass is that the adults and children do not have to be related.

The pass is valid for one day only and you must write in the date (if you start on a bus) or find the machines at the station platforms that stamp the date. The train conductors always comment on the fact that I write in the date rather than stamp it, but you can just explain that the buses in Geneva don’t have the stamping machines.

INDIVIDUAL DAY PASS

Under normal circumstances a day pass costs CHF 71 or in bulk (6 passes) CHF 59 per trip. It is valid on the Swiss trains, boats, poste buses and most city buses and trams. This is a lot cheaper than buying a CHF 90 round trip ticket to Bern-which I made the mistake of doing once.

There is even a better deal for Geneva residents if you plan weeks in advance. Check your local town hall, or mairie’s, website if they offer “cartes journalières” usually at the reduced rate of CHF 35-CHF 40. In all communes, but two, the purchaser (not user) must be a resident of that commune.

CHILDREN BETWEEN 6 and 16

The “Carte Junior” permits your children aged 6-16 years old to travel free on all public transportation with one parent when you buy this one year pass for CHF 30.

THE DEMI-TARIFF

The demi-tariff card costs CHF 175 and for one year your train and most boat transportation is reduced by 50%; while buses and trams are reduced at a smaller rate. Unfortunately, the demi-tariff price keeps rising. In order to break even, you would have to make a round trip to Zermatt (to ski), Bern (to renew your passport) and Lausanne (to visit the Olympic Museum). If you’re interested, check out the demi-tariff combined with a Visa or prepaid credit card.

VISITERS, STUDENTS AND MORE

I hesitate to repeat everything on the SBB website because it is chock-full of information. There are student specials (Voie 7), non-resident passes, thematic packages (for example, William Tell or Glacier Express) and monthly specials including steamboats, cog trains and hotels.

Bateau-à-vapeur

My recommendations are:

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland.  If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/

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