Traveling by tram
Unambiguous long-distance traffic device the railroad on all of Switzerland's area, onto so much daily in the Basel peoples' life the traveling by tram.
If somebody would ask me, what I liked the best in Basel, I would emphasize certainly firstly the pleasant airy downtown and the many romantic pedestrian precincts being free of the traffic jams, parking cars.
Totally usual, that the big part of the city dwellers walks rather or travels by tram, just in that manner the tourists, since a free Basel ticket goes with all hotel rooms automatically.
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Free Travel for Hotel Guests
When you stay in Basel in a hotel, then you are entitled for a free travel card for the local buses and trams. Ask your hotel for the "mobility ticket".
You will get the mobility ticket at the reception when you check in.
That means the trip from the aiport or railway station to your hotel is not free of charge!
But when you check out then you can still travel for free on this day.
Local public transport is provided by the Basler Verkehrsbetriebe
Regional public transport is provided by the Tarifverbund Nordwestschweiz (www.tnw.ch)
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Bicycle station at Basel SBB
1. Bicycle station at Basel SBB
2. One of the four ramps leading into the bicycle station
Like most major Swiss railroad stations, "Basel SBB" has a large and very well-organized bicycle station where you can park your bike safely for a small fee, and also get it repaired if the need should arise.
They also have bicycles for rent here. The one I rented here was in excellent condition, and I was very satisfied even though the rental was more expensive than it would have been in neighboring France or Germany.
Unfortunately Basel does not yet have a free bicycle lending service like the ones in Bern (Bern rollt) or Geneva (Genève roule) or seven other Swiss cities.
GPS 47°32'54.40" North; 7°35'12.40" East
Twentieth century roads and bridges
1. Ugly bridge near the station
2. Another ugly bridge
Though Basel is in general an attractive city, it is marred in places by ugly roads and bridges that were built during the Dark Ages of Automotive Excess in the twentieth century.
Since these are made of steel and concrete they are unlikely to fall down of their own accord (though this has happened in other countries) and I'm sure it will take decades for anyone to risk the ire of the automotive lobbies and make the expensive decision to demolish these structures.
As I have mentioned before, this sort of thing always reminds me of a snippet of dialogue from an old Billy Wilder film called Sabrina, from the year 1958:
"After all, this is the 20th century, Father."
"Twentieth century? Why, I could pick a century out of a hat, blindfolded, and come up with a better one."
Three days after I took this photo, the last remaining trolleybus line in Basel was discontinued.
The trolleybuses on this line, number 31, are being replaced by buses powered by natural gas, which also cause little pollution in comparison with diesel buses.
Trolleybuses, which run on rubber tires but get their electric power from a pair of overhead wires, are still used quite extensively in several other Swiss cities, including Bern, Geneva and Zürich.
An advantage of trolleybuses is that since they have rubber tires they get better traction than trams do when going up hills.
Trams aka streetcars
1. Tram number 8 at Barfüsserplatz
2. Tram number 11 at the main station Basel SBB
3. Tram number 10 by the theater
In the 1950s the automobile lobbies mounted a huge and quite bitter campaign intended to ban the tram lines from Basel, so they wouldn't get in the way of cars. In 1955 there was a referendum in which a majority of the voters fortunately agreed to retain the trams and keep on financing them, so Basel was spared the fate of being a tram-free city.
Eleven tram lines still exist today in Basel. Typically a tram comes on each line every seven and a half minutes, i.e. eight trams per hour.
The large green tram in the first photo belongs to the BVB, which is the public transport company that is wholly owned by the Canton Basel-Stadt (Basel City). This line, number 8, is currently being extended across the border into Germany, so that this will be an international tram line starting in 2012.
The smaller yellow trams in the second and third photos belong to the Baselland Transport AG (BLT), which as the name implies is the transport organization of the Canton Basel-Land.
Traffic signs and bicycle lanes
1. Large signs clearly showing the position of the bicycle lanes (click to enlarge)
2. Bicycle lane between automobile lanes, not to the right of right-turning cars
3. Signs for cyclists and pedestrians at the main station Basel SBB
4. Sign for pedestrians in the Elisabethenstrasse
Switzerland in general and Basel in particular have made a lot of progress in recent years in putting up informative traffic signs for cyclists and pedestrians, not only cars.
Even on the large signs above the street, as on the first photo, there are signs clearly showing where the bicycle lanes are, so nobody will be in any doubt.
In the second photo the bicycle lane has been placed between two automobile lanes, to avoid the problem of right-turning cars or trucks running colliding with cyclists who are going straight ahead. This I think is often a better solution than having cycling lanes on the far right, no matter what, as is often the case in other cities.
Cycling in Basel
1. Bicycle route signs on the Rhine River
2. My rental bike by the Rhine, across the river from the Museum Tinguely
3. Cyclist near Schifflände
4. Cyclist at Fischmarkt
At last count 23 % of the journeys within the city of Basel were done by bicycle -- a very good percentage compared with Frankfurt's 9 % for example, though Amsterdam has around 30 % and Copenhagen nearly 40 %.
Trains to Basel
1. Inside the main station Basel SBB
2. A French TGV train at Basel SBB
Basel has three railroad stations, run by the Swiss, German and French railroad systems, but the main station in the center of the city is of course the Swiss one, called "Basel SBB".
SBB is the German abbreviation for Swiss Federal Railway.
If you are arriving from the north, i.e. from Germany, the train will stop first at a station called "Basel Badischer Bahnhof", but that's not the one you want if you are going to the city center. Be patient and stay on the train a few more minutes until you get to "Basel SBB".
Basel is served once or twice an hour by the InterCityExpress (ICE) trains from Germany, and several times daily by the TGV trains from France.
A direct TGV train now takes just over three and a half hours to go from Basel to Paris by way of Strasbourg.
GPS 47°32'54.40" North; 7°35'12.40" East
The trams in Basel are outstanding: very many, clean and most of them very new. Also in most places the time of arrival is given in minutes. You can buy a ticket at a dispensing machine, but we recommend the Basel mobility ticket. In many hotels and B&B the mobilty ticket is included in the price.
Renting cars from Basel Mulhouse Airport
EAsyjet flies to Basel Mulhouse airport which is excellent as not only is it an airport that shares 2 countries - ie you can exit into Switzerland or France which is extremely useful for renting a car in winter when you want winter tyres (France doesnt do them at that location but Switzerland does of course because theyre compulsory! and were cheaper!) - and its in a stunning location to go up around the beautiful Alsace area or over into the sites of Switzerland.
The two options I consider for renting cars here are with www.easycar.com or www.auto-europe.com (who usually contract to Europcar which are great for rental extensions or changing return locations).
When dropping the car back at Geneva airport which also shares the two countries you must make sure you get back to the correct side's rental car return whereas Basel Mulhouse airport is so much smaller its less time consuming and not as much a problem finding where to go.
It was also handy another time because Basel Mulhouse is so close to the main access freeway that I was able to pull in and change my ticket with Easyjet so that I could have another day and continue on down to Geneva and fly to Berlin from there instead plus drop the car there!
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When I lived and worked in Switzerland, I was driving a company car with Swiss licence plates. I don't know if it was the comapny placard on the doors or the Swiss plate that allowed me to pass back and forth between Switz and France and Germany. It also helps to know the back streets. I know of a border crossing back in 1990 that was never checked, no guards, etc. Let me know where you will be staying and maybe I can tell you about that passing. Some mountain passes between countries are not manned either.
I also drove my personal vehicle with Texas license plates over in Europe. The only time I was stopped was at a French border crossing in southern France. My French background became important.
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Trams and Buses in Basel
An effective and efficient way to get around in Basel is to buy yourself a daily tram ticket. Trams are clean and timely and everywhere, as are the buses. Tickets can be purchased at automats near bus stations, stops and at the train stations. My day-long ticket cost 14 Swiss Francs, and special thanks to MYNDO for covering that purchase. (I had no Francs, only Euros having just arrived from Germany).
Single ride tickets are available, but if you're going to be riding more than a couple of times, you want a day ticket. You can also get 2, 3, 4, and (I think) 7 day tickets.
I understand that if you stay in a hotel in Basel, a free "Basel Mobility" card may be included with your stay. Supposedly, this card will give you free access to the trams and buses. But, this I do not know for sure. Check with your hotel, if you're staying at a hotel.
And, these tickets are very effective regional transportation as well. I do know that we used my ticket when we took a 30 minute bus ride from downtown Basel to the village of Muttenz, where MYNDO and her family live.
For more information on Basel transportation, please visit their website below. You may have to find a friend who can translate if you don't "do" Deutsch. Thankfully, I am able to read the language myself. I have not yet found the/an English version of the site.
Basel's train stations
Basel has two train stations, the larger Basel SBB is the main Basel station. But there is also the smaller Basel Badischer Bahnhof, run by Deutsche Bahn. This station hosts many German Trains that don't stop at Basel SBB. Badisher is where you'll see the smiling German customs agents when you return to der Vaterland. :)
You can rent bicycles at Basel SBB.
Travelling with passes
There are a selection of travel passes that can be used to travel Switzerland.
Instead of a rental car, which seem to be increasing in price at a fast pace, this time i relied on public transport with plans to travel long distance i was planning to rely on the train network.
Using the website www.swisstravelsystem.com i was able to check out train timetables to get from Basel to my planned destination Sant Gallen and down to Luzern for the Golden panoramic route down to Montreux, Lausanne and the hot air balloon festival at Chateau D'oex and back to Basel with any options in between!
I chose the swiss pass which is £117 or 265 swiss francs for 4 days - the next option is 8 days - or with similar benefits the Swiss Flexi pass which gives 4 days in 5.
The Swiss Pass encompasses travel and museum visits for pretty much everywhere in and around Switzerland.
Actually its best to buy it in advance in your own country so that you can use it to travel away from the airport! and its excellent in that you can use it for local transport as well and as a museum pass for over 400 museums around Switz.
It is also gives you 50% off THE big trips such as Titlis, Pilatus and Jungfraujoch trips.
PS - i found these websites EXCELLENT!!! especially for timetables and so helpful for plotting travel itineraries and stopoffs from main routes etc!! very excellent! and very user friendly.
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