Sunday, 13 December 2015

St Gallen, Switzerland


The city of St Gallen, in northern Switzerland, lies around 700 metres above sea level.  St Gallen is quite a small city, with a population of around 75,000 within the city boundary.  Nevertheless it has an extensive public transport system.

The city network 

A network of eleven bus and trolleybus routes serves St Gallen.  These are operated by Verkehrsbetriebe St Gallen (VBSG - website in German).  One route terminates in the city centre, the others operate cross-city.

Trolleybuses are used on four routes.  All of St Gallen's trolleybuses are articulated.




Lines 1 and 4 are operated mostly with five-door bi-articulated vehicles.



Before ordering new bi-articulated vehicles, St Gallen had experimented by adding a low-floor section to an existing step-floor articulated trolleybus.



No further vehicles were converted, which suggests the experiment was not deemed to be a success.  Nevertheless this prototype vehicle remains in use on routes 1 and 4.

This vehicle was the only step-entrance bus I noted in St Gallen.


Although most of the vehicles used on the 1 and the 4 are bi-articulated, I did see single-articulated trolleybuses operating on both services.

Conventional buses are used on the other seven routes.

Some are standard single-deckers, with three sets of doors.





There are also three-axle single-deckers, also with three sets of doors.



Shorter-length buses are used on route 10, with operates through St Gallen's historic quarter.


These vehicles have two sets of doors.


There are articulated buses too, with a mix of three-door and four-door buses.



Although most of the articulated buses I saw has three axles, I also noted a four-axle vehicle.


Buses to the surrounding region 

Most services connecting St Gallen with the surrounding region are provided by PostAuto.  A variety of vehicle types is used.

Standard, two-axle single-deck buses with two sets of doors operate on a number of routes.

Three-axle, three door buses are also operated.

Articulated buses, also with three sets of doors, are used as well.

Meanwhile, three-axle double-deckers are used on some services.

These vehicles have two staircases and two sets of doors.

There is one service into St Gallen which is not provided by PostAuto.  Route 151 to and from Gossau provided by Regiobus (website in German only).

I found three-door articulated buses in use on this service.


Not all journeys on route 151 are operated by Regiobus themselves.  Part of the service is operated by VBSH (St Gallerbus). 

Running on rails

At first sight, it might appear that St Gallen has a tram system.  Once upon a time, it did, although trolleybuses replaced the trams as long ago as 1957.  However, the tram infrastructure was, and still is, used by one of the local railways.

Line S21, also known as the Trogenerbahn, still runs on-street in the city centre.  It is operated by Appenzeller Bahnen (website only in German).

Appenzeller Bahnen operate a second line into St Gallen, the S22.  This climbs out of the city at a steep incline, with trains using the rack-and-pinion (or cogwheel) system to cope with the gradient.

Unlike the Trogenerbahn, the S22 does not run on-street.  It does, however operate alongside the street in some places.


The S21 and S22 terminate alongside the main railway station in St Gallen.  When I visited, however, the S21 was terminating at temporary platforms nearby due to building work in front of the station.

They form part of St Gallen's S-Bahn local railway network.

Finally, a funicular lift operates from a station in the historic city centre to the St Georgen district.

The Mühleggbahn (website only in German) is fully automated.  Many funiculars have two cars, one counterbalancing the other.  The Mühleggbahn comprises a single lift car. 

Fares and tickets

Fares in St Gallen and the surrounding region are co-ordinated by Ostwind (website only in German).  A zonal system is used.  A single zone covers St Gallen.

At the time of writing, a single journey within St Gallen costs CHF3.10.  This fare applies on all public transport services within the St Gallen zone, irrespective of operator (and including the Mühleggbahn), and allows interchanges.  It is valid for an hour.

There is also a "short hop" fare of CHF2.30, available on St Gallerbus services, the Mühleggbahn and the section of the Trogenerbahn within the city centre.  This ticket does not permit interchange.  On St Gallerbus services, the short hop fare is valid for up to 5 stops.

An all-day ticket is available for unlimited travel within the St Gallen zone for CHF6.20 - the cost of two single tickets.

For travel into the surrounding region, the single fare depends on the number of zones you travel through.  Transfers between public transport services, irrespective of operator, are permitted.

All-day tickets are also available, priced at twice the single journey fare.

Single and all-day tickets can be bought in packs of six, giving an 8% discount.

St Gallen is also wthin the area covered by the EURegio Bodensee day ticket, which I will cover in a future post.

Images in this post were taken in September 2015.