Thursday, October 30, 2008

How to use the SBB automatic ticket machines...

Ok, so if you are unlike me and you are a genius and have no issues figuring out electronic machines that are in foreign languages and use foreign currencies and are flat out foreign, ignore this post and instead may I interest you in the archives?

But if you are like me and you have had issues with these things or you just might, then here goes... A tutorial on: How to use the SBB Automatic Ticket Machines!

For starters, these machines are generally found in and around Zurich. They are slowly being replaced in other cities by the smarter and generally easy to use computer based maschines, but you will find these old school versions still, especially on the station platforms. All tickets bought from these machines are valid for boarding within the hour, with the exception of the Tageskarte or daily pass which is good for 24 hours.

1. This is an automatic ticket machine. Say "hello" - it won't bite. These things are everywhere in Zurich (and in many other regions as well) and you use these to get a ticket for public transportation. You can get a ticket on the bus from the driver, and you can always get a train ticket at the counter, but if you are in a hurry, this is the best way.

2. First start by figuring out where you are going and telling the machine.

There is a great list of destinations on the machine:
Let's say I wanted to go to the airport. I would search for the destination on the list. Oh look, there it is! Zurich airport. And I would remember the number 8058.

Now you type the number (remember 8058!) into the machine using the keypad. Like this one:

You will now see in the screen at the top the price to the destination you have chosen:
But don't pay yet! Now it's time to...

3. Select your fare.

Using this section of the machine, you need to tell the machine a few things:
a) Would you like to travel via first class? Then push the 1.KL button. The price updates (to be more expensive!)
b)Would you like to have a round trip ticket? Then push this button with the arrows... the price updates (to about double!).
c) Do you have a half fare card? If so, select this button and automatically your ticket price will update and be halved! Yes!

You can do the above steps as many times as you like until you get the ticket that you want and the price that you want based on the fare that you want. Still with me?

4. Time to pay. You can pay with coins or bills.

Coins go in here, obviously.
Bills go where the arrow is pointing, and the machines do give back change but ONLY IN COINS!

Your change and your ticket will come out in this part of the machine:

There are three quick options on the machines that are quite handy. You literally can just push, pay and go.

a) The "To Zurich" easy button: If you know that you want to go to Zurich from wherever you are, you can push the RED button here and it will display the fare to Zurich Zone 10. Push the round trip button or the half fare button to adjust the fare and pay! Fast and easy.

b) The Localnetz button: If you just want to ride around in your local Zone or network only, you can push the orange button and get a quick ticket for the current zone. Push the round trip button or the half fare button to adjust the fare and pay! Fast and easy.

Don't know if where you want to go is in your current zone? Well, if it is not in the list below the orange button, then it's not! Find it in the master list and push in the number.

c) The Tageskarte Localnetz: If you want unlimited rides in the local zone you are in for the next 24 hours, push this button and you will get a day card, good for unlimited trips in the current zone. This is great if you are a tourist in Zurich and just want to ride around Zurich all day. Push the white button (plus the half fare if you have that!) and you are off! Just make sure you are already in the zone that you want to travel around all day or else you might have to buy extra zones later!

Some other things to note:
  1. Luggage is not an additional fee, so feel free to lug it on.
  2. You dog, however, is an extra fee. Make sure you buy the ticket for man's best friend. If it is a lap dog, meaning a small dog (there are size restrictions but I am not sure what it is exactly), it rides free.
  3. If you ride at night, after midnight, make sure you buy the extra Nachtnetz zuschlag. I believe it is 5 CHF extra to ride at night.
I hope this was helpful. In the beginning, despite my German knowledge, I was always buying too many tickets or too expensive ones because I forgot the 1/2 fare button. I also DID NOT GET the zones either. So don't feel bad. If you have any questions, let me know! Once you get it down it is easy to get around Zurich using the automated machines.

Good luck!


Joanna "Serowa Marzycielka" said...

Hi Jessica,

wow, a great post!!! For the moment I’ve felt like I was in Switzerland... Oh yeah! And it surely helps to avoid standing in a cue to the ticket-office ;)

I would like to ask 2 questions – maybe someone knows the answers. Assuming that I’ll travel with the Swiss Pass (only for non-residents):

1. Can I buy a separate velo ticket in the ticket machine too?

2. I know that there is a service called Fly Rail Baggage. But what if I don’t wanna use it? I just wanna take my (small I hope) baggage to the train and get to the hotel. Is the transportation of the baggage free of charge?

Yeah, those are the questions I’ve wanted to ask you since a long time ;)

Take care,


juanitatortilla said...

THAT was really useful.
The machines do intimidate me quite a bit, as I've (over)paid the wrong fares too often!

My concern was always 'To Round Trip or Not to Round Trip' -- how long will each ticket last? For example, to go to the Flughafen (when seeing someone off to the airport)...

And, you know, the "smaller" bus/tram stands do not accept notes, which is quite a bummer if you are the sort who likes to get rid of coins (i.e. Myself).

Anyway, great post on this "Tutorial"! I'll have to remember all this info when my parents come visit next month! :) (But, oh wait, doesn't a Swiss Pass make more sense to a tourist then?)
Oh, too many options I say!

Carla Bosco said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carla Bosco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tania said...

Hello Jessica
I love your blog! My husband came across your blog and referred it to me. I have been following it since your "Swiss Greetings 101" entry on 9 September. I adore your writing style and humor! You often have me in hysterics:o)

Tania said...

Hello Jessica
I love your blog! My husband came across your blog and referred it to me. I have been following it since your "Swiss Greetings 101" entry on 9 September. I adore your writing style and humor! You often have me in hysterics:o)

Tania said...

Hello Jessica
I love your blog! My husband came across your blog and referred it to me. I have been following it since your "Swiss Greetings 101" entry on 9 September. I adore your writing style and humor! You often have me in hysterics:o)

Khani said...

This is such a timely post! i am going to the airport on Saturday and I was having nightmares about the machine.

A very sweet old lady helped me the first time... I didn-t get the point that you can't just type the numbers... you need to type "*" first (if I remember correctly.) I'm so happy I will be able to get to the airport and back now!

If only I could figure out the ATM machine...

Suzer said...

This is a great post, and really lessens ticket machine anxiety! I'm always worried that someone waiting behind me will be annoyed that I am taking too long trying to figure it all out.

Jessica said...

Sorry about your post Carla. It came up twice and I thought one was a duplicate so I deleted it - and it deleted them both. Here is Carla's post:
Ji Jessica,

I was in Zurich last week for the first time as an adult and did think those machines would bite, so I got the six day ticket to the zone 10 from a real person.

I had no idea what I should do about it and it was only after an entire day riding everywhere that I was told I should have inserted the ticket in the machine so that it would get stamped with the place and time I first used it. I was so lucky there were no checking in my trams that day! The next days I got it right and everything was OK.

Oh, I miss Zurich already! Can't wait to move there in January! :-)

Jessica said...

Ps. I am going to post a follow up next week with answers to some of the questions in the comments. I am glad that everyone found this post so helpful. There is a lot that the machines cannot do - but a lot it can that I didn't mention. I will try to set the record straight. ;)

M'dame Jo said...

Actually, these machines are not present everywhere in Switzerland - can't really generalize Switzerland to Urdorf ;)

Many place updated them to 3rd millenium machines all along Geneva's lake a while back, with touch screens, where you type the name of your destination and can pay with the CASH function of your maestro card...

Lausanne area has the same system for its regional public transportation.

Joanna "Serowa Marzycielka" said...

PS: I have a short general question: if trains/trams/buses/boats are the most popular means of transport for the Swiss people, do they buy cars at all???

Jessica said...

m'dame jo... good point. I have updated the post. I have used these electronic touch screens as well... that would have to be a whole other post! :)

jazibe said...

--It would also be a good idea to mention how to add zones to an existing ticket (for example, i have a zone10 year pass, but the airport is a zone away, so i have to add 1 zone to be able to go). To add zones: just punch in *002 (for 1-2 zones), *003 for 3 zones, and so on. Thats how i've done it with no problems, but maybe i am wrong... :)
--Adding the round-trip option makes your ticket last 24 hrs (right?).
--If you are using a swiss pass (swiss saver pass, swiss saver flexi pass) you have all the public local transport included from the day of the 1st trip (validated ticket) to the day of the last trip (which can be up to 30 days later) in most (if not all) major cities in Switzerland. Absolutely a real money saver for long term tourists!!

M'dame Jo said...

I've never had the ones where you have to enter the number, even as a kid. I grew up in Geneva. I remember the old bus tickets machines, but now, I'm not sure how the SBB machine were before. I remember queuing to get my tickets at the counter though. So 1900 :)

Anonymous said...

A tip and a caution about these old school machines:

* the code you enter is actually the postal code of where you are going. So even if your destination is not on the list you can still go there if you know the code.

* all the old machines I've seen take coins and 20 notes, but NOT 10/50/100 etc. so make sure you have the right money. This avoids having to buy a pack of gum at the kiosk to break your 50.


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