Long-distance coach services international

A green and orange Flixbus driving along a road.
Flixbus runs coach services from about 40 places in Switzerland to destinations in over 30 European countries.

Continental coach services are a valuable complement to the railway. The ban on cabotage means that continental coach services may not carry passengers on routes wholly within Switzerland.

In Switzerland, the number of licences and approvals for continental coach services has more than doubled in six years. This boom has been particularly favoured by the liberalisation of long-distance coach traffic in Germany and France. Long-distance coach services are often launched where there is a poor rail service or none at all, such as on the route from Zurich to Belgrade.

The Federal Office of Transport FOT exercises an important function as the licensing authority for continental coach services. It grants approval for connections to EU countries and licences for routes to non-EU countries. New lines are generally approved; one reason for not approving a new line might be that it could seriously impair the functioning of a comparable transport service operating under a public service contract.

The FOT is also responsible for implementation of and compliance with current transport legislation. If regulations are breached, the FOT can launch criminal proceedings. The ban on cabotage means that continental coach services may not carry passengers on routes wholly within Switzerland, e.g. between Bern and Zurich. Compliance with the ban is monitored by the cantonal police forces and the border guard service in consultation with the FOT.

A separate licence application must be submitted by companies wishing to provide a scheduled coach service within Switzerland (see Long-distance coaches national).

In its Report on international passenger transport of 18 October 2017, the Federal Council stated that it wished to continue developing continental and national long-distance coach services within the existing legal framework. It sees the need for improvements in bus and coach stations and stops (improvements for passengers) as well as in enforcing the relevant social conditions.