Before Switzerland, my only real experience with public transportation was the L in Chicago. The bus system in Peoria leaves a lot to be desired, so I had only taken the bus a couple times ever in my life.
And my only experience with a train was taking an Amtrak train from Bloomington, IL, to Longview, TX (capped off by a ride on a Greyhound bus into downtown Houston). It was mostly horrible. I had a headache from the sound and/or the rocking motion the whole time and my sleep was disrupted all night long by people going back and forth to the bar car and begging to get off the train and smoke any time we had to stop and let a freight train pass.
I had read that the public transport in Switzerland was a lot better and I had to hope that it was, because we planned to go without a car (so far, so good except for the move last week).
Our tram experience has been positive so far.
With one notable exception.
G looks pretty while waiting for the tram home from the zoo, doesn’t she?
We moved here in January, and while it was warmer here than back home in Peoria, I would not classify the weather as “nice.” Last week, just in time for our move, we got some warm weather. Like mid-70’s warm. It was gorgeous and unexpected. (Although not “hot” as one of the moms at G’s ballet class claimed. But she was British, so maybe that is hot to her!)
When the weather got nice, the trams got crazy! So many more people started using the trams and traffic got backed up. Trams weren’t arriving on time. It was nuts!
Andy was late meeting the IKEA delivery people because of this. That same day, G and I were on our way to music class and I was paying too much attention to my phone and we missed our stop.
We got off at the next stop, crossed the tracks, and settled in to wait for a tram heading back the other way. While we were waiting for our tram, which was inexplicably delayed, we saw THREE trams going the other way. One would be normal, maybe. Two I could sometimes see happening, but three? G kept asking me why we couldn’t get on one of those trams instead. “Because they’re going the wrong way” wasn’t an acceptable answer, apparently, no matter how many times I repeated it.
And yesterday, we got to witness firsthand how well Basel can handle a potential crisis, right down to rerouting the trams and keeping people going where they need to go. (In summary, there was a suspected bomb left near the theater and they had to cordon off the area and get the bomb squad in from Zurich. They did a controlled detonation and no one was injured.)
And as far as trains go, Switzerland has got the US beat, hands down. Granted, I haven’t tried to sleep on a Swiss train, but I don’t get a horrible headache from the sound and motion, so sleep seems like it would be more doable.
Clean, comfortable trains at fairly reasonable prices make it easy to get around Switzerland and Europe. In fact, I heard a rumor that we can get cheaper train tickets for travel around Germany now because Birsfelden is even closer to Germany than Basel (marginally). I haven’t confirmed that yet, but it’s an exciting prospect!