Switzerland is surprisingly one of the most accessible countries in the world by public transportation. And while you may be familiar with our busses, trains and gondolas; it’s the little talked about PostBus that gets you to the valleys, villages and mountain passes.
If you want a Swiss adventure, choose an out-of-the way valley and hop on the yellow postal bus.This is exactly what I did for a big hike that took me from the Derborence valley to the Ovronnaz hot spring resort. I needed the PostBus to get me to and from my car parked in the middle. After ten minutes I realized this service was more than a transporter of people from point A to B. Our driver literally picked up mail, newspapers and jam along the way and he served as our tour guide to the history of the Derborence community. Within 15 minutes, we came to hairpin corners, roadside drop-offs, tunnels and the constant use of our bus’s famous three-toned horn announcing, “We are coming so find a pullout NOW.”
The PostBus dates back to 1849 when the cantonal horse-drawn postal networks were taken over by the federal government. The next major date noted in their history here is in 1906 when the first motorized vehicle began delivering the mail between Bern and Detligen. Nowadays the PostBus is leading transportation development in Switzerland by introducing the first fuel-cell powered bus (hydrogen) in 2011 and the first self-driving bus this year in Sion.
I mentioned the three-toned horn. The PostBus horn sings out the notes C sharp, E and A from the William Tell Overture by Rossini. Take a moment to click here to listen to the two versions.
In addition to their normal routes, the PostBus also has a large tour selection of their favorite areas. There are at least nine routes described on the website in English and many more offers in the German language. For a taste of these routes and the history involved, the Postbus has their own YouTube page with English subtitles.
So the next time you think about taking your car somewhere up a mountain, consider taking the PostBus. I promise you will enjoy the views since you won’t be driving; you might enjoy your chauffeur’s humor if you understand his French or German; you probably won’t get motion sick (I didn’t) since these busses are usually very modern and smooth; and, you should feel good about not adding to the exhaust fumes in our pristine alpine country-side.
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/.