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100 years of Postbus travel over the Gotthard

The first Postbuses travelled over the Gotthard Pass in June 1922. And today, 100 years later, passengers can travel by Postbus from Andermatt to Airolo in summer and combine their excursion with the legendary multi-pass journey. The anniversary season begins on 25 June and runs until 9 October 2022.

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Gotthard Pass route
© Museum of Communication

From 1842, mail coaches ensured the important north-south traffic connection over the Gotthard Pass, but the popularity of the coaches fell after the opening of the Gotthard railway in 1882. 40 years later, in 1922, the age of Postbuses began on the Gotthard, and passengers were chauffeured comfortably over the Gotthard in a Postbus for the first time. This, in turn, provided a boost to the leisure transport segment at PostBus. The tour over the pass was now mainly for pleasure, as there were trains for long-distance travel. However, passengers had to dress warmly at the time because PostBus often used the Saurer “Car alpin” cabriolet on the Gotthard route. The catalyst for the new PostBus route was the post First World War economic crisis: just as during the recent coronavirus pandemic, there was a lack of passengers from abroad and it was necessary to create attractive offers for the locals. 

Switzerland’s longest bus ride

Even after 100 years, the Gotthard Pass route is still part of the PostBus summer service. The journey between Airolo and Andermatt will be offered several times a day from 25 June to 9 October 2022 and will take approximately 50 minutes. Some 21,000 passengers travelled over the Gotthard by Postbus in the 2021 season. By way of comparison, in the summer of 1881, before the Gotthard railway opened, 60,000 people travelled on this important north-south route in bumpy, dusty mail coaches. 

The Gotthard is a popular area for excursions. Many passengers stop at the top of the pass to visit the Sasso San Gottardo fortress, a former Swiss army artillery fortress that was kept secret until a few years ago. The pass is also one of the stages of the “Vier-Quellen” (Four Headwaters) hiking trail. The Postbus journey over the Gotthard can be easily combined with a multi-pass journey through the Central Alps. Some 129,000 passengers took advantage of this offer in summer 2021. 2018 is the record year so far, with 151,000 passengers carried. Every summer, around 20 drivers and seven vehicles operate in the mountain passes. PostBus offers five different routes, with the most prominent pass journey being the “Vierpässe” (four-pass) round trip on route 682 from Meiringen via Grimsel, Nufenen, Gotthard and Susten: at 8 hours and 46 minutes, it’s the longest direct public transport service in Switzerland. 

100 years of Postbuses on the Klausen Pass

The PostBus connection over the Klausen Pass is also celebrating its 100th anniversary this summer. The route over the Klausen Pass between the cantons of Glarus and Uri was officially opened and used by the first mail coaches on 15 June 1900. The first Postbuses travelled over the pass in 1922 after the road was expanded for cars. This summer, PostBus is celebrating the 100th anniversary of journeys over the Klausen Pass: the seasonal trips on route 409 Altdorf UR–Klausen–Linthal over the Klausen Pass will operate from 18 June to 18 September 2022.

Historical photographs of Postbus journeys over the Gotthard

Gotthard Pass route
© Museum of Communication
Gotthard Pass route
© Museum of Communication
Gotthard Pass route