At the end of a near perfect day of wine tasting in the picturesque Vaud, la Côte countryside, I pulled up to the Beetcshen Cave only to have my third tube puncture of the day.
No worries, this is Switzerland. I enjoyed a couple of fine glasses of red and hopped on the next bus with my bike headed to the train station.
At Gland, I arrived just as the train for Geneva pulled in and tired, jumped on ready to buy my ticket. And therein lies the catch.
When the ticket taker appeared I prepared to pay only to be asked for my identification. When I asked why I was promptly told, “To send you the fine”, which he promptly printed out – CHF 98. That’s right, anyone attempting to buy a ticket on board Swiss trains is now handed a fine on the spot.
I think I literally went white or red, I’m not sure. I felt like I had just ordered dinner and had a bucket of ice dumped on my head instead.
The reasoning behind the December 2011 change in ticket policy escapes me. While the train service says this is about money, it seems a surcharge for on-board tickets would be as effective. In addition, rather than making Swiss train personnel less vulnerable to harassment, the new rule seems to do just the opposite; for customers like me who use the train infrequently and still expect to pay on board, the message is, you are a criminal for not buying a ticket in advance, leaving a trail of angry customers, while those trying to cheat the system by intimidating train personnel will continue to do so.
I think the Swiss rail service needs to rethink this one. I won’t make that mistake again, but I won’t be riding the train for some time either; the love is gone.
Post Script: the announcement about the change in law is posted but buried on the Swiss rail site under “travelling without a ticket”.