Linie 601 nach Derborence. Foto/Photo:

The Swiss Postauto

The year 1848 marked a new beginning for the transport sector in Switzerland. The railways are the best-known example. However, the Postauto also appeared.

As early as the 18th century, diligences and stagecoaches crossed the mountain passes of Switzerland. They transported passengers and mail. They were private companies.


In 1849, the federal government established a monopoly on this transport. The stagecoach, pulled by four or six horses, was the only means of transport until 1906. The first Postauto drove from Bern to Detligen in 1906. Three cars were operated on this route.

Another 2 000 stagecoaches were in operation until 1913. The Postauto took over this role after 1918. In 1919, the army gave one hundred Postautos to improve the service. This was a great stimulus for further development. The most important manufacturers of Postauto were the firms Saurer in Arbon and  FWB in Wetzikon.

The Postauto became active in more and more (mountain) areas and remote valleys. A well-known example is Saas-Fee, which is still waiting for a connection to the railway network. There was no motorway to Saas-Fee until 1951. The postal cars drove as far as they could, and the journey was continued with mules. In 1951 the motorway to Saas-Fee was completed.

The Postauto was also a popular means of transport for excursions until the 1960s. Most people could not afford a car until then, and the Postauto (the Alpine car) transported passengers up to the glaciers and over the highest mountain passes. There was often even a traffic jam of Postautos.

Postauto AG

Today, Postauto AG is a subsidiary of the Schweizerische Post AG and, thus, a so-called federally-affiliated company. About half of the services are provided by private Postauto operators with whom Postauto AG cooperates. Postauto AG also has international routes and was active in France until recently and is still operational in Tyrol and other parts of northern Italy.

The Postauto has a road network of around 17 000 km, twice as much as the SBB rail network. There are 936 routes with 2 400  cars in the 26 cantons. Postauto transports around 127 million passengers annually.

Postauto operates its services on behalf of the Swiss cantons. They define the services (routes and timetable) and – together with the Confederation – contribute about 50% of the costs. The rest of the revenue comes from individual customers, group- and school transport or other specialised transport.

A special line is in the Bernese Oberland from Reichenbach to the Kandertal up the Griesalp. This Postauto has a route of 2 kilometres with an ascent of no less than 28%!

The main function of Postauto did not change over the years, despite the new company structure. Passenger transport and letter and parcel delivery in the most remote regions and villages are still the core business. The Postauto is known for its punctuality, service and comfort. It runs like clockwork.


Lovers of Postauto Oldtimers and the history of this unique transport company can visit various museums, including the Saurer Museum in Arbon, the FWB Museum in Wetzikon, Sammlungsdepot in Schwarzenburg (canton of Bern) with the oldest intact Postauto, the Museum für Kommunikation in Bern and, of course, online the Postauto AG.