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Old 17.09.2020, 11:39
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SBB App misery

Let me start by saying generally that this [the SBB App] is great. I can just buy exactly what ticket I need with a smart phone when I want it and get all sorts of information about the time table, train composition etc. etc. All very useful. Well, that is, assuming it all works.

On Tuesday (15.09.2020), I planned a hike for which I used public transport at both ends of the journey. At about 07:00 I attempted to purchase a bus ticket for the first leg of the journey to Eriz using the App. It would let me, but at twice the normal cost. I simply bought a paper ticket at the normal price from a kiosk. During the bus journey, I had some time to investigate and discovered that, in the App, the connection between my "Swisspass" and my "Half Price Travel Card" was broken. Therefore, I was seeing all tickets at the full price. The system allowed me to make a manual link and I thought that was the end of the problem. At the end of the hike at sometime before 17:00, I got on the train at Interlaken Ost and proceeded to buy a ticket with the App. It failed but, this time, with a general failure with the message: "buy a ticket at a machine/counter". Fortunately, I had left myself enough time to run around and do just that.

I am now wondering what I am going to experience the next time I attempt to buy another ticket.

It has also happened a few times in the past as well, but not often. However, the consequences of such a system failure are now higher because there are a reduced number of ticket machines and the counter opening times are also reduced, mainly because, exactly that, people are buying more tickets online. Here it is actually worse because the tariff system has changed and is now such that you cannot just buy your tickets for the whole day in advance because these now have a limited validity. At least, you can't unless you know exactly which train/bus you intend to use.

Having said all that, I wasn't asked to show the two paper tickets I bought to anyone, probably because Covid-19 has caused a reduction in the number of ticket inspections. So if you are unable to buy a ticket because of an App system failure, you may find you don't actually need one.
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