The Federal Office for Transport (FOT) announced Monday that the Domo travel group has been awarded the first ever authorization to provide low-cost bus services on three national routes in Switzerland.
The company plans to begin operating in March on three cross-Switzerland routes: St Gallen-Zurich-Biel-Geneva Airport, Zurich Airport-Basel-Lucerne-Lugano, and Chur-Zurich-Bern-Sion.
The licence to operate will be valid until the end of 2020, the FOT said in a press statement (French)external link. Set stops and maximum daily trips are also specified in the concession to Domo, which plans to run one to two buses daily in both directions on the routes.
Swiss authorities have long been reluctant to open the national network to private competition; currently it is illegal for a foreign company to transport goods or passengers between locations within the country – a practice known as cabotage.
This is the first concession of its kind, and was granted after a summer 2017 consultation process with transport groups and Swiss cantons, which ensured that the services would not substantially compete with existing public-transport options nor compromise those not subsidised by the state.
Domo is also held to strict industry standards regarding salaries and working conditions, and will operate in an integrated way with existing public transport infrastructure by accepting national half-fare and general travel-card passes, the FOT said.
Swiss media reported that Domo would offer fares of CHF11.50 ($12.36) between Zurich and Bern, a route which costs about CHF25 on the train (both prices depend on holding a Swiss-wide half-fare cardexternal link). However, the bus journey would take 2 hours, rather than 1 on the train.
No standing room is permitted on bus travel, and seats must be reserved in advance.