National coach services are useful addition to the public transport system in some parts of Switzerland. They are integrated into the existing public transport schedule and tariff system and create new travel opportunities.
As for every commercial scheduled transport service in Switzerland, a licence is also required for national coach services. The same rights and obligations apply as to every other licensed transport service. A licence is granted if new services do not substantially compete with existing transport services that are part-funded by the public sector. Nor may they threaten the existence of non-state-funded public transport services. Long-distance coach services are integrated into the existing public transport schedule and tariff system; half-fare and GA travel cards are also accepted on these services.
In order to obtain a licence, a coach company must show that:
- it observes industry-standard wages working conditions
- it observes the provisions of the Working Hours Act and the Disability Discrimination Act
- the coach routes are necessary and can be profitably run
- it has obtained the rights to use the planned stops.
The stops on the planned routes are set out in the licence. The maximum number of daily routes run is defined in the scheduling process.
The operating licence is issued by the Federal Office of Transport after consultation with the cantons and transport companies involved.
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. Three national coach services introduced in 2018 were discontinued at the end of 2019 because of their lack of profitability.