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Double-decker Postbus in the Appenzeller Vorderland
Historic post bus on the Simplon Pass

The motorized successor to the stagecoach is mainly referred to as the postbus in Switzerland . In other countries the term Postbus is used .

Whereas in the past it was common to combine mail and passenger transport, these needs became increasingly difficult to coordinate, so that mail transport was largely separated from public transport towards the end of the twentieth century. This did not only apply to the Postbuses, but also to other licensed bus routes and also to the railroad. A little earlier, express and general cargo transport was also removed from the public transport system. This separation is also reflected in the legal structure of PostBus AG as a wholly owned subsidiary of Swiss Post . Postbuses continue to deliver post to post offices in peripheral regions.

PostBus AG

The enterprise

PostBus AG

legal form Corporation
founding 1906/2005 (AG)
Seat Bern SwitzerlandSwitzerlandSwitzerland 
management Christian Plüss
Number of employees 2287 (2015); for PostBus companies: 1628
sales 725 million CHF (2014)
Branch Transport company

Logo CarPostal (French)
Logo Autopostale (Italian)

PostBus ( French CarPostal , Italian AutoPostale , Romansh AutoDaPosta ) is a division of Swiss Post . This is structured as follows:

  • Market Switzerland with the regions Bern, North Switzerland, Valais, Western Switzerland, Grisons, Eastern Switzerland, Ticino, Central Switzerland, Zurich and the Post Bus Liechtenstein Anstalt
  • International market, comprising 10 subsidiaries in France
  • Finance and IT
  • production
  • Communication and Public Affairs
  • Strategy and projects
  • Mobility solutions
  • staff

The Swiss business of the division, which is also responsible for the management of the companies in France and in the Principality of Liechtenstein, has been running under its own legal personality as PostBus Switzerland Ltd (since 2019: PostBus Ltd ) based in Bern since February 2005 .

As a licensed transport company in Switzerland, PostBus currently operates 869 PostBus routes with 2193 PostBus. Around 141 million passengers are transported annually on the 11,869 km route network. The lines are operated either by PostBus AG's own staff (regional operations) or by around 150 contractors, the so-called PostBus companies with their own staff. PostBus AG employs 2,287 people / FTE (administrative staff and drivers) who are employed in accordance with collective employment agreements under private law. The PostBus companies employ 1628 people (FTE).

PostBus offers comprehensive services for public, semi-public and private passenger transport:

  • PubliBike : bike rental system in several Swiss cities
  • PubliCar: on- call bus system for sparsely populated areas
  • PubliRide: PubliRide is the joint regional ridesharing network of PostBus and flinc AG. It combines car pooling and public transport.
  • ScolaCar: minibuses for school transport
  • Travel and leisure: private travel (package tours and charter traffic)

As the system leader in public bus transport, PostBus provides various system services. This includes, for example, the operation of IT-based sales systems for several companies within a collective bargaining system.

Transport rights, compensation

Originally, the mail shelf also included the regular and commercial transport of people on the road. By means of concessions, Swiss Post was able to allow other companies to set up bus routes on their own account. The federal government later assumed this right, and in 1999 the passenger transport shelf was generally transferred to the federal government. Since then, Post and PostBus have themselves required a passenger transport license. It is also possible to tender lines in competition and to transfer the concession and the order to another company. PostBus is the public transport company that has so far been most exposed to the tendering competition in Switzerland. PostBus has so far been able to assert itself in the competition and has won the majority of tenders. Examples are the lines in Interlaken , Entlebuch , Spiez , Laupen . But there were also tenders that PostBus did not win, such as the lines in the Sarganserland or those in the Upper Engadin .

Up until 1995, deficits in the postbus service at that time were financed with profits from the telecommunications sector of the then PTT (now Die Schweizerische Post and Swisscom ), while those of the other bus transport companies and the so-called private railways were financed by the cantons. In 1996, with the revision of the Railway Act, public transport financing was harmonized across all modes of transport. From then on, the ordering principle applied, according to which all regional public transport companies (PostBus, other bus companies, railways, ships, cable cars) had to offer their services to customers (federal government and cantons) in advance. Since then, the regional transport lines have been ordered jointly by the federal government and the cantons and the uncovered costs offered have been compensated. Co-financing by the federal government is tied to certain conditions, for example, a division accounting must be carried out. The offers that the transport companies submit to the cantons as the lead buyer are binding. Subsequent deficit coverage is excluded. This means that the transport companies run the risk of incurring losses, but they can also make profits. In 2014, PostBus was in the black for the 16th time in a row.

Cooperation in public transport

Postbus lines are part of the "public passenger transport" system in Switzerland. They supply alpine side valleys, areas without rail connections and tourist destinations, but also operate in urban traffic and in cities (e.g. Brig , Martigny , Interlaken , Moutier , and as transport agents in Sion , Delsberg and Bellinzona ). Postbus lines mostly serve a train station to ensure connection to the railway network or they are linked to other bus lines. The timetables of bus lines in Switzerland are generally coordinated with the train timetables in the ordering and timetable process. As far as possible, the schedule is scheduled. The number of trips per line depends on demand, and there are usually at least four course pairs per day. In the agglomerations, the half-hour or quarter-hour service applies.

PostBus is integrated into the so-called direct traffic , in the national tariff association. A ticket can be bought for a trip on the lines of different companies and different means of transport. In addition, the half-fare travelcard and the general travelcard apply . On tourist routes that do not operate all year round or have no development function for all year round inhabited areas, the public sector does not pay any uncovered costs. However, all public transport tickets are also valid on these PostBus routes. Surcharges were therefore levied on flat-rate tickets (e.g. the general subscription for public transport). These surcharges (Alpine Ticket) were lifted from the 2014 timetable change. Where regional tariff associations exist, the corresponding tariffs also apply to the PostBus routes.


The first post bus ran from Bern to Detligen on June 1, 1906 . In 1919, trips over the Alpine passes followed on the Simplon . Swiss Travel Post, as the Postbus service was called until the 1990s, gradually replaced the horse posts with Postbuses, but thanks to its monopoly (Postregal, see above) it also opened up numerous new areas.

The Post, Telephone and Telegraph Companies (PTT) kept some of the vehicles themselves. Like all Post Office cars, these buses had license plates with the notation “P” instead of the usual canton abbreviation. The majority of the PTT awarded the transport contract to private bus companies, the Postbus owners. This business policy is still upheld today. Most of the Postbuses had a door at the rear so that the post office goods could be loaded and unloaded more easily. They were mostly Swiss made by Saurer , Berna and FBW . There were also similar buses from Mercedes and Volvo . They were replaced across the board by more modern buses in the 1990s.

Marking of a stop
with the Postbus route lines

Subsidy scandal

In February 2018, PostBus Switzerland hit the headlines because the company had stolen CHF 78.3 million in compensation from the federal government and cantons over the course of several years through illegal rebooking. The company must reimburse the federal government and the cantons for the subsidy that was improperly obtained . The manager Daniel Landolf and the chief financial officer were immediately released from their operational tasks. The Federal Office of Police is conducting administrative criminal proceedings against the Post . The price watchdog demanded lower ticket prices. The last price increases were justified with higher train path prices , which do not affect PostBus Switzerland as a bus company. As a result of the scandal, the post manager Susanne Ruoff resigned on June 8, 2018. After an external investigation report showed the serious illegal transfers, the entire management was released on June 11, 2018 and their bonuses withheld. Price supervisor Stefan Meierhans noticed irregularities in bookings back in 2012. However, the Federal Office of Transport failed to carry out the necessary investigations. In February 2019 it became known that Daniel Landolf and the then CFO were being investigated for performance fraud.


A post bus is characterized by its yellow paintwork. The details of the paintwork and the inscriptions varied over the decades. It currently consists of a yellow vehicle body, a red, circumferential line on the lower edge of the window, a white roof and a large, stylized post horn on the sides.

The characteristic three-tone horn is also strongly associated with the Postbus, the tone sequence of which comes from the Andante of the overture to Rossini's Wilhelm Tell and includes the notes c sharp-ea in A major. The three-tone horn is used in regular service on mountain post roads for signaling or warning, for example of blind bends; buses from other licensed companies may also use it for this purpose. The tradition of the post horn lives on in the Dreiklanghorn . The Postbuses and other buses on mountain post roads are, besides police and rescue vehicles, the only motor vehicles in Switzerland for which multi-tone horns are permitted.

With the break-in into new markets, for example the operation of local buses, there were also Postbuses in other colors. A new development started when the canton of Aargau asked all bus and narrow-gauge railway companies to give their vehicles a uniform white appearance with black, red and blue stripes to document their membership of the A-Welle tariff association . However, this new color concept sparked outrage among many Aargau residents. With the transfer of authority from the canton of Aargau to the A-wave council, it is now left to the transport companies to use either the A-wave design or their own appearance (with the A-wave signet). Accordingly, PostBus is purchasing the new vehicles in the traditional post office yellow.


Postbus deck over the tracks of Chur train station . From Chur, the terminal station of the standard-gauge railway, not only places without a rail connection of the Rhaetian Railway exist: there are also interregional routes such as over the Lenzerheide and through the Oberhalbstein to Bivio or the express route across the Alps via the San Bernardino to the south side of the Alps to Bellinzona .
Postbus " Palm-Express " in Menaggio
A fuel cell post bus on the way between Scherz and Brugg .
Postbus with WiFi (Romansh)

Air conditioning, optical and acoustic passenger information and free WiFi are standard for new buses. The vehicle fleet has been and is continuously renewed. The vehicles range from minibuses ( e.g. Fiat Ducato , Mercedes Sprinter) to low-floor buses ( e.g. Mercedes Citaro , Solaris Urbino 12), intercity buses ( e.g. Volvo 8900, Setra 412UL) to two-story buses ( Neoplan N 4026/3 , N 4426/3, Alexander Dennis Limited Environ500). As part of the CHIC (Clean Hydrogen In European Cities) project, five fuel cell postbuses have been in use in Brugg, Canton Aargau, since December 2011. In Sion, Canton of Valais, two autonomous electric shuttle buses from the manufacturer Navya will be in operation on a trial basis from June 2016 .

PostBus used to use numerous Swiss-made buses. These came from FBW, Saurer and Berna, after the merger of FBW and Saurer in 1982 from the commercial vehicle company Arbon & Wetzikon (NAW), later NAW Nutzfahrzeuge AG, and are still in use in isolated cases. The bus superstructures often came from body shops, for example Carrosserie Hess .

Travel cars (coaches) are also used in charter traffic; some of these run under the name PostCar and visually differ from the line vehicles by a picture of a Gotthard mail coach on the side walls, which is decorated with a post horn.

All buses, including those operated by the PostBus companies, are procured by PostBus AG. The procurement of the various types of use (e.g. city bus with optimized standing space, intercity bus with optimized seating, articulated bus) is advertised every two years in accordance with WTO rules. PostBus Schweiz AG procures between 80 and 120 vehicles per year.

Depending on the region, some Postbus courses were still used in the late 1980s and 1990s with trailers, which were also used to transport letters and parcels between larger villages.

Activities abroad


The state treaty between Switzerland and Liechtenstein, among other things, also transferred the postal system to Switzerland. As a result, the then PTT was also active in the Principality until the contracts expired in 2001. The operative business was run by a postbus owner.

Since June 1, 2001, the "PostBus Liechtenstein Anstalt" has been operating public transport in Liechtenstein as the transport officer of the LIECHTENSTEINmobil transport company . Here the buses run in a green and yellow paint scheme with the "Liechtenstein Bus" logo. The Swiss general subscription and tickets for the Vorarlberg transport association are recognized on all Liechtenstein bus routes .


In France, PostBus ' subsidiary CarPostal France operates a bus network in the cities of Dole , Bourg-en-Bresse and Haguenau . CarPostal France has been represented in Dole since January 1, 2004, the other cities followed in 2005 and 2006. In Lons-le-Saunier , CarPostal France has been providing technical assistance since 2006, but does not operate a bus network. Other networks were added in 2009 (Mâcon, Isère, Agde, Narbonne, Villefranche-sur-Saône); in 2013 Salon de Provence and Menton. Due to the subsidy scandal, Post's Chairman of the Board of Directors Urs Schwaller announced in June 2018 that he would be examining the sale of PostBus in France. In May 2019 it was announced that Keolis had made an irrevocable purchase offer for CarPostal France and that the sales process could now move forward. In September 2019, the transaction was approved by the French competition authority.


Car-Alpin from Saurer, type S4C, built in 1948, on stage at the St. Gallen Festival 2010

For the film Hors Season by the Grisons filmmaker Daniel Schmid , a currently up-to-date post bus was brought to the location in Portugal in 1991 to show the arrival of Valentin in the empty Grand Hotel of his childhood days at the beginning of the film. It was probably the stop furthest away from the Swiss border for a Postbus that has not yet been decommissioned.

At the St. Gallen Festival 2010, a post bus was used on the opera stage; At the beginning of Donizetti's opera Il Diluvio Universale , the Car Alpin from the Saurer Museum, type S4C, sat backwards in front of the audience and brought the maestro with him. After that, the Noah family's utensils were stowed in it. In the second act, the post bus drove off the stage with Noah's family.

The steepest post bus route in Europe leads from Tschingelsee to Griesalp (line 220), with a 28% gradient in the Pochtenschlucht. On the last 2 kilometers, the PostBus overcome 200 meters of altitude and 20 hairpin bends, at the narrowest bottleneck the road leads through a 2.20 meter wide gap in the rock.

To mark the 111th anniversary of the Postbus, the "Supporting Association of the Historic Postbus Line" opened a historic line between Biglen and Emmenmatt in the Bernese Emmental. Historical Postbuses drive publicly on the first Sunday of April to October. The line is listed in the official course book under the line number 30.272.

Web links

Commons : Postbus  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. PostBus AG, entry in the commercial register of the Canton of Bern
  2. ^ Georg Humbel: Christian Plüss takes over PostBus tax from Thomas Baur. In: November 1, 2018, archived from the original on November 7, 2018 .;
  3. Art. 29 of the Federal Act on Passenger Transport (PBG, SR 745.1) [1]
  4. cf. on this point 3.3.2 of the dispatch on the revision of the Railway Act; Compensation and financial aid for regional transport; dated November 17, 1993
  5. ^ Paul Schneeberger: PostBus has used illegal tricks for years - and hidden money from the federal government and the canton. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung (online edition) from February 6, 2018
  6. Fedpol is conducting administrative criminal proceedings in the PostBus case In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung (online edition) of February 27, 2018
  7. Price supervisor calls for cheaper Postbus tickets. In 10vor10 from 7.2.2018. Information broadcast by Swiss radio and television (SRF).
  8. Post manager Susanne Ruoff resigned due to Postbus scandal In: , June 10, 2018, accessed on June 11, 2018.
  9. Head roles at PostBus: Entire management is free - and they're not the only ones. In: Aargauer Zeitung (online) from June 11, 2018
  10. Florian Imbach: After the subsidy scandal - ex-Postbus manager demands bonus. In: . October 2, 2019, accessed October 2, 2019 .
  11. Roger Schawinski in conversation with Stefan Meierhans In: Schawinski (TV broadcast) , June 25, 2018, accessed on June 27, 2018.
  12. «Fraudulently fraudulent achievements»: Ex-Postbus boss faces 5 years in prison In: Watson (news portal) , February 15, 2019, accessed on February 17, 2019.
  13. Postbus scandal - Swiss Post is buying its way free in France with millions In: , June 26, 2018, accessed on June 27, 2018.
  14. Post wants to sell CarPostal France. In: . May 27, 2019, accessed May 27, 2019 .
  15. Strategic realignment - Post sells French Carpostal - with a big loss. In: . September 30, 2019, accessed September 30, 2019 .
  16. Sunday newspaper of May 24, 2015, page 72.