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Old 24.08.2010, 03:25
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Half Fare card or GA card

Hi all,

Sorry if this has been covered before, but just trying to get my head around this Season ticket thing. My husband and I are moving to Switzerland next month to do a year of postgraduate studies (him in St Gallen, me in Zurich).

We will probably either live in Winterthur given that it is in between the two cities (well - we will give it a try first as we have never lived in a small town before, and may consider moving to Zurich in the future). What is the best option for people commuting between the two cities (Winterthur - Zurich and Winterthur - St Gallen)? We think we will commute at least 4-5 days a week. Is the GA a better option than a half fare, as it gives unlimited option for travel?

Thanks all for your help
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Old 24.08.2010, 08:02
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

If you are travelling 4-5 days a week it is definitely a better option to get a GA card- not only can you use it for your commute ( which will work out cheaper in the long run) but you can also use it for weekend trips around Switzerland- extreamly handy in the ski season. Most public transport is free with a GA which includes trams, trains, buses and boats.
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Old 24.08.2010, 08:32
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

The year pass for ST. GALLEN - WINTERTHUR will cost you 2331 CHF.
The year pass for WINTERHUR - ZUERICH will cost you 1963 CHF.
The year pass for ST.GALLEN - WINTERTHUR - ZUERICH will cost you 3231CHF.

The yearly GA pass (all of Switzerland) will cost you 3100 CHF.

If you are just going to travel between Winterthur, Zuerich and Sankt Gallen I suggest you get the year pass just for these zones and an extra HALF PRICE CARD to travel within Switzerland (1 year is 150CHF).

If you plan to go to any of the other wonderful places in Switzerland then I highly recommend the GA.
Examples of train costs for those without GA's:

To Zermatt (round trip) - 113CHFwith half price card, or 226 CHF.
To Lugano (round trip) - 59CHF with half price card or 118 CHF.
To Geneva (round trip) - 80CHF with half price card or 160 CHF.
These three places are all within circa three hours travel time from Zürich.

All of this information can be found in english at www.sbb.ch
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Old 24.08.2010, 08:40
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

The first GA in 2nd class is 3100CHF - the spouse (Partner card) is 2100CHF.
http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/reisemarkt/abo...abo-preise.htm
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Old 24.08.2010, 08:47
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

Definitely a pass ( GA ) over reduced Point to Point tickets with a demi tariff card ( Halbtax ) considering the frequency of travel, costs associated as well as convenience - no more buying of tickets - the GA is valid just about everywhere, no risk of being hauled up by the ticket inspector etc.
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Old 24.08.2010, 09:07
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

GA!!! We don't travel nearly as much and are super tempted by it. I really don't think that you will regret it! It is so lovely to see the country by train! One of the best things about CH is the amazing train system.
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Old 24.08.2010, 09:16
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

GA also includes free public transport within cities and most routes (i.e. Post buses). So savings there as well.

With the halbtax you can get a built in credit card which might be of interest as I think the fees are included in the overall price.

I don't know if such a thing is included in a GA.

As mentioned above the sbb.ch website has English pages and is very informative. Likewise if you call their helplines, they pretty much all speak English.
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Old 24.08.2010, 09:20
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

No credit card included in the GA unlike the Halbtax option, but you save more when you pay for the 2nd Class GA with the company issued REKA cheques ( typically 20 - 23% off ), thus making the GA even more attractive.

The GA gives you cost free access to foreign trains in CH eg the Railjet, ICE, TGV - even better with the 1st class upgrade.

Upgrade to 1st class ( useful on long distance routes and special routes eg Bernina Express, the ICN trains where the meal is served at your seat like in the airplane ) and travel in comfort, arrive in a better shape for about CHF160 a month ( Klassenwechsel ) if travelling frequently.
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Old 24.08.2010, 10:09
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

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No credit card included in the GA unlike the Halbtax option, but you save more when you pay for the 2nd Class GA with the company issued REKA cheques ( typically 20 - 23% off ), thus making the GA even more attractive.

The GA gives you cost free access to foreign trains in CH eg the Railjet, ICE, TGV - even better with the 1st class upgrade.

Upgrade to 1st class ( useful on long distance routes and special routes eg Bernina Express, the ICN trains where the meal is served at your seat like in the airplane ) and travel in comfort, arrive in a better shape for about CHF160 a month ( Klassenwechsel ) if travelling frequently.
First class is nice on the Bernina, but everybody thinks this and all travel first class.

The second class carriges are quite often empty or 2 or 3 peiple in them, you have 4 seats to yourself, sometimes on the other side as well.....
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Old 24.08.2010, 17:30
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

Thanks zwissmiss - really useful info. I think the GA is quite attractive, I didnt realise it includes all transport across switzerland. Pretty steep at 3,100CHF but i guess definitely worth it for all that is included!
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Old 24.08.2010, 17:36
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

Thanks everyone for your help, much appreciated.
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Old 24.08.2010, 17:37
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

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Thanks zwissmiss - really useful info. I think the GA is quite attractive, I didnt realise it includes all transport across switzerland. Pretty steep at 3,100CHF but i guess definitely worth it for all that is included!
Not only includes all of Switzerland but if you travel to other countries by train, i.e.Italy, Germany, Austria or France, your GA is good until the border and you only buy a train ticket from the border of the country which you are visiting.
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Old 24.08.2010, 17:38
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

If you cannot pay a bulk 3100 chf in a single shot, you can go for a monthly basis GA. But it has a condition that you should use it atleast for 4 months. My husband has this monthly paying GA card which is 285 chf per month (means 3420 chf per year).
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Old 24.08.2010, 17:43
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

also, depending on what your studies are, you can get quite the discount: ETH PhDs get a pretty substantial discount on the GAs.
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Old 24.08.2010, 20:05
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

One final point, having just traded in a GA after 14 months and gone back to a half-card combined with either 6-trip multi-tickets (they give you also the option of several of the same journeys within a short time) or a monthly season ticket for the same journey.

And then of course the half-card gives you half on all public transport.

The GA is great and so convenient but if you are not making enough journeys then it's a luxury.

Your choice!

It's all on the www.sbb.ch/english look under sitemap but it can take a while to dig out some of the possibilities. And yes, the SBB and the transport network are one of the wonders of Switzerland.
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Old 24.08.2010, 20:11
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

GA's are awesome.

There are maybe 2 months a year that I do not get the full value out of it, but I more than make up for that in the Winter Season.
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Old 24.08.2010, 20:14
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

Oh, and I forgot - you can ring them up and ask to speak in English - you not only get to speak to speak to a human being instantly and they're soooooo helpful.

Telephone (0)800 401 401 (Monday-Friday, 08:00-17:00)
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Old 24.08.2010, 20:42
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

The GA is the mutts nutts if you realise you'll get your moneys worth out of it. You can hop on any train, any tram, any bus, any commuter boat and not have to worry about a single thing, just show your card. 2 days off, nice weather, hop on a train to Locarno! In fact, you decide half way you'd rather go to Zermatt, hop off and hop on another one, it's as simple as that!

You also get reductions on certain fernicular railways and cable-cars, which are otherwise not included as most if not all are private.

With 2 people having a daily commute in 2 different directions, I think a GA is definately the way forward for you guys.

If you guys are moving from the UK, it could be as it is for myself that flying out from Geneva (To Belfast Bristol Birmingham) with easyjet is a better option than flying to London from Zurich or Basel ? That return fare alone from where you'll be living down to Geneva would cost 160 francs each, but with the GA. . . . You've already paid for it.

I sound like a bloody SBB Advertising campaign!
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Old 24.08.2010, 21:36
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

We keep giving you good points about GA as if we own SBB.
Anyway, here is another good thing of GA.
If you decide to go away for a month, say to another country, you can go to SBB and deposit your GA. They will keep it until you get back and pick it up and will give you equvilent to one month credit on your next SBB purchase.
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Old 24.08.2010, 22:01
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Re: Half Fare card or GA card

Oh yes, there's no doubting the beauty of it so long as you want either that convenience of are using the system that much.

A GA costs 3100chf (I even had the famile version with children that reduced it 1700Chf and decided to ditch it!). A half-card costs 125Chf, which gives you half-fare on everything; the difference is 2975Chf. You need to be doing double that amount of travel - 6000Chf equivalent to really justify it. And then with a half-card you can still get multi-journey and season tickets, as well the specials. Once you have the GA you don't bother with any fares. And this December the GA is increasing by 8% whereas ordinary fares apprently by 1.5%! Of course there are a few extra benefits with the GA as well. If one adult has one then one for their children 6- 16 only costs 12Chf/week.

I have a bike pass @ 190Chf, a half-card @ 125Chf, a kinder pass @ 20Chf and six-trip tickets to my regular destinations; a lot more to carry right enough
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