sbb v septa

i’ve just recently returned from switzerland where i took the trains and buses on a daily basis. i can’t help but be negative and report that our quality of life (in general, but especially with transit) here SUCKS in comparison.

their trains are fast, clean, spacious, inexpensive, frequent and on time. i traveled in regional second class. the seats and legroom are equivalent to at least two septa regional rail seats, plus a small table to accomodate food, drinks, tickets and such. the windows are roughly four times larger and the train itself is taller, giving everyone more room to breathe, stand, stretch and store luggage.

when i got on the train monday morning to come to work i had a strong sense of being cramped and claustrophobic – and the train is empty when i get on!

the buses are similarly superior. they are spacious, quiet and give very clear indications of each stop. each bus stop has a name, making the system much easier to navigate. there are shelters with ticket vending machines and each ticket purchase is good for a few hours within the designated zone. no paying and re-paying or tacking on extra for a transfer.

unfortunately, the metro in lausanne is under construction so i didn’t have a chance to experience that as well. i’m willing to wager it smells a lot better than the el though.

finally, the strangest thing is that no one checks tickets. occasionally they come around on the train, but the buses are all on the honors system. everyone buys tickets anyway. i have a whole pile of train and bus tickets that were never collected or punched.

if septa tried that kind of honors system they would be infinitely deeper in debt than they already are.

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