Financing of public transport

Sound transport infrastructure and public transport services are important prerequisites for an attractive living and business environment. This is why the public sector supports public transport and rail freight transport: the federal government, cantons and communes pay around half of these transport costs.

The federal government spends over CHF 5 billion annually on public transport and rail freight. The mandate of the Federal Office of Transport (FOT) is to steer the financing and to make it as efficient as possible. The FOT's area of competence includes the following items:

  • Expenditure on expansion projects and on operating and maintaining railway infrastructure is financed through the Rail Infrastructure Fund (around CHF 4.6 billion per year),
  • To ensure the basic provision of public transport services throughout Switzerland, the federal government and the cantons commission transport companies in the regional passenger transport system to provide the required train, bus and, in some cases, cable car or boat services (the federal government's share of the cost is around one billion francs per year),
  • The federal government also promotes rail freight transport, on the one hand with operating subsidies for combined transport through the Alps, and on the other hand by co-financing freight transport facilities such as terminals and sidings (a total of around CHF 100 to 200 million per year).
  • The federal government also makes contributions towards car transport by rail, primarily by providing regular investment credits. These subsides and contributions are largely financed by revenues from road transport.
  • In addition to national roads, the Federal Roads Office's National Highways and Urban Transport Fund (NAF) also co-finances the expansion of public transport in the programmes for urban areas. Funding is primarily aimed at bus and tram projects.

Regional passenger transport that does not serve to connect smaller communities (places with fewer than 100 inhabitants) and local transport (e.g. inner-city transport) can be financed by the cantons alone or together with the communes. The federal government does not participate in funding this. National passenger transport services, i.e. long-distance transport, is not funded by the federal government either. All long-distance transport must be run on a commercial basis.

Last modification 06.09.2023

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