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More pass advice, please!

We are a group of ten. I propose that each person purchase the 30-day half-fare card. I will be the point person to obtain the 30% group discount where applicable and hopefully be able to purchase the tickets before we depart for Europe, which is 16 days before we arrive in Basel. We are 2 nights in Lucerne and 4 nights in Wengen with our final night at the Hilton Zurich Airport. I am having difficulty seeing the cost benefit of purchasing either the Berner Oberland or Jungfrau passes in addition to the Half-Fare cards. What am I missing?

Train and lift tentative plans are:
Basel-Lucerne rail
Mt. Pilatus
Lucerne-Wengen via Meiringen rail
Schynigge Platte via Wilderswill cograil
Schilthorn
Mannlichen lift
One or two other hikes e.g., Lauterbrunnen waterfalls
Wengen-ZRH rail

Posted by
203 posts

Thanks, rolandp.

From my gleanings on the SBB website re: group discounts, i was aware that ALL receive the 30% discount but there needs to be someone in charge of booking the tickets for all and that is me!

How far in advance can I purchase tickets for our group? From what I've gleaned so far from the SBB website, I will need their names/birthdates for sure, but won't their Half-Fare card #s be needed as well? We are certain of our dates for Basel-Luzern, Luzern-Wengen and Wengen-ZRH so if I can take care of those reservations before we leave for Europe, which will be 16 days before we reach Basel, that would be great.

Posted by
494 posts

One of the main benefits of a pass is that you then don't have to purchase individual tickets, you just walk on and off the trains and have your pass available for ticket agent to see when they walk through the train. If it's a group this can be nice from a logistics standpoint. I highly doubt that you'll find monetary benefit in doing both the half fare card AND a pass, typically it's one or the other.

Posted by
20309 posts

With 4 nights is Wengen and 2 in Luzern, you could get the Half Fare Cards plus the 6-day Berner Oberland Pass. The 120 CHF discount on the 6-day Pass covers the cost of the Half Fare Card. So Luzern>Wengen, and time in Wengen, and part way back to Zurich (either through Bern or Luzern) is covered. Use the Half Fare Card for Basel>Luzern, Pilatus, and remaining journey to Zurich. Also local transport in Zurich.

Posted by
203 posts

I am still having difficulty justifying the cost of buying the B-O pass in addition to the 1/2 Fare card. I am going to attempt to calculate the costs of the adventures I outlined in my initial post on a pay as you go basis vs. the 220CHF for the B-O pass.
The ngroup discount for 10 wherever we can will be a major plus especially for Pilatus and the Schilthorn.
Getting a math headache, just looking at this extremely useful price list I just found!
https://cdn.jungfrau.ch/Prospekte_und_Broschueren/Jungfraubahnen_Fahrpreise_Preisliste.pdf

Posted by
33113 posts

do you need any help with any of the terminology on that page?

Posted by
20309 posts

The 220 CHF price for the B-O Pass is only if you have a Half Fare Card, otherwise it is 340 CH. So you can see, that exactly covers the 120 CHF Half Fare Card cost, effectively giving you a free Half Fare Card for the rest of the trips outside the B-O region. As was reported, using the group discount all journeys have to be booked 72 hours in advance. There is only one ticket or the group leader, so all must travel together on every trip. What if someone is tired and wants to skip one of the trips, or travel at a different time? What if the weather is lousy and you want to travel on a different day?

PS. Schilthorn above Muerren is only at half fare.

Posted by
648 posts

"Ditto" to advice from Sam and Laurel...two seasoned travelers to Switzerland. Last year my husband and I stayed 7 nights in Wengen and bought the ½ fare card and the BO pass. The BO pass is discounted with the ½ fare card. We "loosely" did the math...and bought the BO pass after it seemed all our planned trips would justify the purchase. The convenience factor is a HUGE bonus. Not necessary to buy tickets or think about the "cost-factor" while you are in the area. Also, while you are in Wengen, weather may be less than ideal, so you may want to alter your plans, and head somewhere else in the area.
From Lucerne to Lauterbrunnen to Bern, we could just hop on a train and show our cards. We could make as many trips as we wanted to in the included area. We went to Schynigge Platte as well as Mannlichen, Mürren, etc. I know you want to go to the Schilthorn, but we had been there on previous trips so that was not on our list.
We did ride the Eigergletscher cable car...a couple of times, just because we could. We went to First near Grindelwald. The train system is so efficient in Switzerland, so it was great not to calculate costs while we were in the BO region.

Posted by
203 posts

@Nigel-
Thanks for the translation offer! The fare chart has info in English and French besides German so I can decipher it. We will be in season 1- interesting that fares are more expensive in summer season 2.
@Sam-
Good point about not all wanting to do all altogether all the time!
@Carol-
I do like the flexibility of the Berner Oberland pass. Not been to that region but once, staying in Grindelwald and hiking the First, Pfingstegg and going to the Jungfrau. We've stayed in the Valais for a week spend a few nights in Zermatt, and one in Chur, where we were blessed to enjoy a regional yodelfest. In 2019, we stayed in Meggen and while there went to Rigi vs. Pilatus.
As of now, each couple has been provided with the link to purchase the 1/2 Fare card at their convenience. The B-O decision can wait until all of us are back in Ohio after snowbirding in Florida. We don't fly south for a week, which is why I am conquering cabin fever by planning our time in Switzerland this September!

Posted by
20309 posts

You can just buy Half Fare Cards when you get to Switzerland. Interesting, you do not actually need to have the Half Fare Card to buy tickets at the half fare price, but you need to have the Half Fare Card in hand when the conductor checks the tickets to show you are entitled to the half fare.

Posted by
203 posts

@Sam
Won't we each need the 1/2 fare card ahead of our trip from Basel to Luzern on 9/5 which will have to be booked earlier to get the group rate? That trip, and the return leg to ZRH from either Bern or Luzern, will definitely be all of us traveling together.

Posted by
20309 posts

You will each need to have the Half Fare Card when you board the train, but not to buy the tickets. There is no requirement to enter any Half Fare Card information, nor any way to do it. That is the way the Swiss operate. They trust that if you buy a Half Fare ticket, you will have the card in hand at the time of travel. If you forget to buy it, or loose it, then you are traveling with an invalid ticket and be subject to a fine plus the additional fare.

Posted by
203 posts

Berner-Oberland Pass
Ok- thanks to all the food for thought you all have provided here,I have done some calculation and now have a new query for you!

Do you think we can get by with a 4-day or maybe even 3-day B-O pass with the following itinerary?

9/7: Arrive in Wengen, do either the Monchblick or Staubbauchbankli Walk late afternoon (no lifts needed)
9/8-9/10 Various hikes as listed in my original post using the B-O pass. (3 full days)
9/11: Depart for ZHR from Wengen

I would only coordinate the 10 of us Basel-Lucerne, Lucerne-Wengen, Wengen-ZRH, excursion to the Schilthorn (and Pilatus) so as to take advantage of the group savings on those. Each couple can decide if they want to buy the B-O pass or not. We will all have the 1/2 Fare card regardless.

Danke!

Posted by
11433 posts

9/7: Arrive in Wengen, do either the Monchblick or Staubbauchbankli Walk late afternoon (no lifts needed)
9/8-9/10 Various hikes as listed in my original post using the B-O pass. (3 full days)
9/11: Depart for ZHR from Wengen

9/7 your inbound travel from Luzern is covered by the BO Pass. Have you seen the coverage map on this page? https://www.berneroberlandpass.ch/verkehrsmittel/

9/8-10 all covered except anything above Kleine Scheidegg or to Schilthorn

9/11 your outbound travel is covered back to Luzern. You only have to pay for the segment from Luzern to Zurich

I’d say the pass pays off even if you buy the 6 day pass, which you have to do because they only come in 3, 4, and 6 day options. With the HFC as well, you have the best possible combination and do not have to hesitate to j7mp of the train and go down to Lauterbrunnen ona whim, hop on the bus in the valley at will, Etc.

My husband and I have a philosophy, developed over many trips to this area as well as to the Dolomites where passes are useful: Just buy the pass. It always pencils out for us.