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Demi-tarif (Half-fare card)

Interlaken
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In January, Vilay and I purchased two demi-tarif (Half-fare) cards for the Swiss train lines. Each time we buy a train, bus or boat ticket we only pay half the price with our cards. It is also good for discounts on other things like the funicular lines, car rentals and more.
Jura Swiss steam train
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Our three youngest children travel with an adult that holds a ticket for free in Switzerland until they are six years old. We will buy a Junior Card for my oldest before she comes. With this card she can travel for free with an adult that holds a ticket and get in free or at discounted prices to various attractions. The card is twenty Swiss francs per year which is super cheap. In plus, you only need to buy two children Junior cards and the other kids cards are free as long as you buy them all at once.

This is why we are going to buy my five year daughter’s Junior card at the same time we buy my twelve year old daughter’s card even if Sweet Bear doesn’t turn six until October. Next year, we will get my youngest daughter’s Junior card at the same time we renew the other two cards (even if she turns six only in November) and we will not have to pay for the third card. Then, two years later when my son will be six, we will get all four children their cards at the same time only paying for the first two.

We planned it out that even if we are buying cards when the children don’t technically need them in the end it will be the best way to make sure all the cards are bought at the same time and we only have to pay for the first two.

When my oldest turns sixteen we will buy her a half price card that is a little cheaper than an adults. After that I believe she will have to have a full price Half-fare card.

train du Jura
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Since the public transportation system in Switzerland is not expensive and very efficient, we have made a decision to not buy a car for at least three years or longer.

Gas is outrageously expensive and will continue to go up in cost. Vilay’s co-workers are spending five to six hundred Swiss francs a month on gas alone. Ad a car payment and car insurance on top of that and you are looking at over one thousand Swiss francs a month not including any service (replacement of parts, oil change, etc.) needs.

We have never spent more than three hundred a month for train tickets.

Sure it is a pain when we have to find a way to pick up my oldest daughter in Zurich since her father in America will only send her there. The earliest a train leaves our village is at six thirty in the morning which makes it impossible to get to Zurich in time to pick her up or take her back by train. So, we find other solutions. My Inlaws are wonderful and are helping us pick up my daughter when she comes. We will most likely rent a car and her Papa (my husband) will take her back to Zurich alone or we will all take the train and spend a night in Zurich.

If my children or one of us happen to need to go to the hospital is another big issue. How do we get there during the night when no trains run? My neighbor took me to the hospital once when my son was sick. However, I could have waited to take him the next day. We haven’t had any real emergencies since moving here. But, that doesn’t mean we won’t at some point. I know that we can call an ambulance or ask a neighbor but it still doesn’t sit well with us. We want to make sure we can get to a hospital as quickly as possible.

Train on way to Delémont, Switzerland
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This is the only reason we may break our decision to not buy a car and buy a small one. Yet, after thinking about it we decided that rather than buying a car moving to a city that has a hospital would make more sense. Then, we could continue to save money and not have to depend on a car. I love taking the train and in no way feel like I am suffering without a car. Actually, I think that the train is more relaxing.

Bienne, Switzerland
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Countries around the world should look to Switzerland as an example of getting public transportation right. With the rising cost of gas I think that more countries are going to make public transportation a priority.

Lucerne Switzerland
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In Switzerland, public transportation is easy, comfortable and affordable even if you have a large family. We will continue to take the train even when we have a car. The car will be used only when the train doesn’t make sense which I don’t see happening all that often.

Besides, on the train you can sit back and enjoy the view.

Train goes right through the city roads like a tram...very cool
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The photo above was taken in La Chaux-de-fonds where the train passes right through the city streets like a tram to reach the train station.

cows with a view
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The photo of the cows enjoying their view wasn’t taken from a train but I think it nicely represents my point. :)

The pictures I did find that I had taken from the train were of snow.

I don’t want to even think about snow.

Right now, I want to cherish the sunshine on my face.

I have until November to worry about snow and then it will last until at least April or May!

Needless to say, I am enjoying my sun while it lasts.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Global Librarian June 19, 2008, 2:34 pm

    You might want to consider Mobility Car (http://www.mobility.ch). It’s a car sharing program here in Switzerland. The cars are parked in locations all over the country, mostly train stations, and you can arrange to use them online. It’s a pretty cheap way to have access to a car those few times you may need one. You can arrange for a 3-month trial period to test it.

    If there is an emergency and there isn’t a mobility car available at short notice, you could always call a taxi.

  • Penny June 19, 2008, 3:02 pm

    I love taking the train too although I suspect it is a little more expensive here in France. We too dont have a car and are not planning on buying one. But we also need to rethink our hospital backup plan

    :)

  • Pumpkin June 19, 2008, 4:25 pm

    Global Librarian,
    I tried their website but haven’t had much luck getting it to give me a quote. I am going to make my husband call them and see how much it will cost for us to rent one of their cars. I think we can pick it up right at the train station in our village. Thank you for the link and I think being able to rent a car and use the trains is going to keep us from ever buying a car. :)

    Penny,
    We took the trains a few times in France but it isn’t nearly as practical and is more expensive than Switzerland for a family of six. Perhaps there are special programs in France that you can buy like in Switzerland that makes it cheaper.

  • Susie Vereker June 19, 2008, 4:41 pm

    Amazing photos.
    (Was also interested to hear about the chicken pox vaccine!)

  • sissi June 19, 2008, 5:39 pm

    Hi Pumpkin

    Thank you for this entry.
    Yesterday I was looking around for a train fare to go from my place to Bern. I couldn’t find a special fare for kids.
    Since I don’t have a demi-tarif card, prices are more expensive than taking my car (68 francs per person from P. to Berne).

    You are right, car are too expensive and a waste of money, we spend so much on our car it is ridiculous ( and sad).

  • Lisa June 19, 2008, 8:27 pm

    I am so very, very envious of your public transportation. With rising gas prices and living in the suburbs (nothing is within walking or biking distance) we now have three vehicles in order for my hubby and teen to work and myself to be able to get the younger children to their various appointments. It sounds crazy but another family I know spends more on gas (not to mention wear and tear on their cars) trying to share two vehicles for four driver’s.

    The big trucks (a Texas tradition) are dropping in value and everyone is fighting over/buying the smaller vehicles. If we had public transportation we would only own one vehicle. For now we try to limit errands, grocery shopping and visiting friends/family to a couple days a week in order to save on gas.

  • Pumpkin June 19, 2008, 10:07 pm

    Susie,
    It is interesting how different countries react to different things such as chicken pox. When I was a kid I had to stay in the house for two very long weeks so I didn’t infect others. So, I was surprised that the mothers and teachers here were not concerned about containing the virus.

    Some of the photos are over three years old taken during my first visits to Switzerland.

    Sissi,
    If you plan on taking the train more than three times to any big cities other than those close to you it is worth buying the demi-tarif card. It quickly pays for itself. All you need to do is get your three oldest children the Junior Card with the third one being free…your youngest daughter travels for free anyway since she is under six. Your kids will love the train.

    Lisa,
    I understand because when I was in high school we lived in the country with nothing around us but corn fields. After my brother and I started driving there were four drivers in the house with four cars in the drive way. It was the only way for everyone to get where they needed to go.

    I have heard from my parents how hard it is with the rising cost of gas in the States. For many there is no way around it and that is why I hope that public transportation becomes a hot topic. I think it is the only real solution.

  • expatraveler June 20, 2008, 2:28 am

    I think Switzerland is incredible for train transportation and door to door delivery for transportation. GL’s advise is wonderful too. I miss the great train transportation like Switzerland as here I have to make 3 changes and an hr later to do what I can do in 20 mins by car.

  • Pumpkin June 20, 2008, 8:55 am

    Expatraveler,
    One of the mothers in the village told me that her husband takes the train back and forth to work every day in La Chaux-de-fonds. Technically, it is longer but since the traffic is so bad there due to the French coming into Switzerland to work it is faster and less stressful to go by train.

    We have found that the trains are faster on many trips than by car.

    I am happy to know about the car rental possiblity through GL’s comment….thanks, again…Globial Librarian!!!

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