Have a seat.

Bumpy conditions on Switzerland's public transport.

Swiss public transport is one of the best in the world. But this was not always the case.

Andrej Abplanalp

Historian and communications chief of the Swiss National Museum.

The British publisher John Murray travelled through the canton of Jura by stagecoach in 1838. He later described the trip in his “Hand-Book for Travellers” as “very rough”– hardly surprising, since the travelogue author was riding in a “char-de-côté”.

On this type of coach, which was used primarily in France and western Switzerland, the carriage body was set at right angles to the undercarriage, so that the passengers sat sideways (“de côté”) in relation to the direction of travel.

This was more uncomfortable, but it allowed these carriages to be built with a narrower wheelbase, and as a result the char-de-côté could be used even on those roads in the canton of Jura that were narrower than the standard track width of 1.4 metres.

Today, no travel writer would have cause to complain about the quality of Swiss public transport, which is one of the best in Europe and even in the world.

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Char-de-côté, stagecoach, 1849, wood, iron, leather, painted.

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Swiss National Museum

Three museums – the National Museum Zurich, the Castle of Prangins and the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz – as well as the collections centre in Affoltern am Albis – are united under the umbrella of the Swiss National Museum (SNM).