Swiss transit journey planners can guide you to the top of any mountain

Follow my route on transit from Zurich to the top of Mount Rigi

by Steven Vance

Looking almost due west from Mount Rigi-Kulm

Looking west from Mount Rigi-Kulm and you can see the cloud layer that prevents you from seeing Lake Lucerne. The two cog railways are parked in the middle.

A month ago I hopped over to Germany to start a holiday trip over Christmas and the New Year. I flew into Frankfurt but I would be returning to Chicago from Zurich, Switzerland, almost three weeks later. I had spent two hours in Zurich in 2016 on a layover, and I was struck by the city’s beauty and their amazing public transport system. I made it a priority to revisit Zurich, to have a proper stay.

Before I left, I was already working to import the single GTFS transit feed for the whole country into Transitland, so I was aware of some of the transit systems. That work continues because the feed is massive; it has more than 400 operators and I need to add metadata about each of them.

I arrived the night before my mountain trip to a hotel – a 3 minute walk to the nearest entrance to Zurich’s hauptbahnhof (main station) – and I spent that whole evening planning an epic transit and mountain adventure the next day. (I stayed in because it’s also pretty expensive to go out in Zurich, so I was also saving my money for what turned out to be an expensive  epic trip.)

When in Switzerland, I figured, you should spend time outside on a mountain. And there’s no exception in the winter.

Steep journey up to Mount Rigi-Kulm from Vitznau looking over Lake Lucerne

It’s a cog railway up a Swiss mountain, of course it’s going to look steep like this.

I googled “nearest mountain to Zurich” and found Mount Rigi. I never validated if Mount Rigi is the nearest mountain, but after reviewing details on how to get to the base and how to get to the top (the mountain has its own website), I could tell it would be possible to go there and return in the same day.

Mount Rigi has multiple peaks, the tallest of which is Rigi Kulm at 1,798 meters, and you can plan a trip directly there with a single app.

You can use the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) smartphone app or website to plan a trip from anywhere in Switzerland to the cog railway station below the restaurant atop Rigi Kulm. Seriously.

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Transitland now covers Санкт-Петербу́рг (Saint Petersburg, Russia)

St. Petersburg Tramway Russia 2013

Photo of a Russian-built tram in Saint Petersburg by Hans-Rudolf Stoll

We recently added the feed for surface transit in Saint Petersburg, Russia. ORGP is the transport organizer’s name in the Latin alphabet. ORGP website is a central source of information for the various municipally- and privately-operated ferry, bus, and tram routes.

St. Petersburg (SPb) also has trolley bus routes, which drive using electricity they collect from an overhead wire (you’ll see these most often in cities around the world with hills, because electric buses are more efficient climbing inclined streets). These buses can only deviate from their route where an intersection between wires is available. There are 1,066 routes in the SPb feed.

  • 5 ferry routes
  • 48 tram routes
  • 51 trolley bus routes
  • Remaining are bus routes using conventional buses.
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Transit around Truckee and Lake Tahoe, California

Rural transit provides rides for residents and tourists

by Steven Vance

"TART bus standing at Tahoe Transit Center"

A Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit bus standing at the new Tahoe City Transit Center. Photo by Placer County.

I’ve written about all kinds of different transit systems in the world, including a quirky mode in West Virginia, bus rapid transit (BRT) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and integrated bus, tram, and rail networks in Germany. Today I’m going small by exploring a rural transit system near Lake Tahoe in California.

The first thing I do when starting a new blog post about an unfamiliar transit system is to look at the geographic coverage area of that system. I also do this each time I review transit feeds for inclusion in the Transitland Feed Registry.

After looking at the coverage area for Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit, or TART, I can quickly see that it covers a mountainous area around the city of Truckee in Nevada county, California, and Tahoe City in Placer county, north of Lake Tahoe.

Grabbing an operator service area’s map is a piece of cake. The “view” link on its Feed Registry page opens a map immediately in I can also include the GeoJSON returned from the Transitland Datastore API on a Tangram map:

Edit this map yourself in Tangram Play.

The route shapes come from three calls to the Transitland Datastore API, which are returned as GeoJSON. The yellow line is the North Lake Tahoe Express shuttle from the airport in Reno, Nevada. The red lines are TART’s routes, and the blue line is TART’s very long “Mainline” route. Green lines are routes run by BlueGo.

Historic city

Truckee is a city of just over 16,000 people that started as a railroad town, and later developed a ski resort. Amtrak stops in Truckee on its California Zephyr route between Chicago and Emeryville, California, which is across the bay from San Francisco.

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