Only tourists pay the high transportation prices.
A return train ticket from Zurich to Geneve costs 178 CHF. But locals will pay only half of that. In fact, the SBB website lists prices half fare prices by default.
Half fare card will get you 50% off. Well, not quite. Sometimes it’s less, there’s usually a minimum price.
Half fare card also allows you to buy day tickets that cost 75 CHF per day and let you travel all around Switzerland for the whole calendar day. So you can take a trip from Zurich to Geneve in the morning and come back in the evening and pay only 75 CHF instead of 89 CHF.
If you buy 6 day passes at once, you’ll get one for free so it works out to 62.50 CHF per day. If you travel on a work day after 9 AM, it’s even cheaper – 56 CHF or XX CHF if you buy a six pack and get one free.
The half fare card costs 185 CHF per year and renews for 165 CHF per year.
Obviously, the half fare card is useful is you plan on traveling in Switzerland.
But you don’t need it if you’re getting a General Availability pass that lets you use all transportation, but this ticket costs more (340 CHF monthly or 320 CHF per month if you pay annually, less than that if you are younger than 26).
You do not need to be a resident to get a half-fare card. On the websites they advertise a half-fare card for one month only (120 CHF) for tourists but you can also get the annual one.
I went to the Zurich main station and got it there. You could probably do it at the airpot as well.
* Go to Zurich HB where they sell tickets (ground floor, near the platforms)
* Ask for an annual half-fare card
* They’ll ask for your passport, I gave them my Latvian ID card
* They’ll need a passport photo (if you don’t have a photo, there’s a photo booth one floor down. It costs 10 CHF)
* They’ll ask for your address to send you the card, you can tell them you’ll pick it up here
* They’ll offer to create an account on SBB.ch/mobile app and give you a 5 CHF voucher
* You can choose the starting date of the half-fare card
* After a 185 CHF payment you’ll get a temporary ticket that you can use
* You can pick up the Swiss card next week
I made my swisspass on Sunday and went to pick it up on Friday and it was already there.
They asked for my address when I picked it up.
There are always lines. Even though there are several counters open, each person takes a few minute. Expect to wait 5-15 minutes.
Another name for the half fare card is half-tax ir halb-abo.