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The situation of users of complementary public transport services in Switzerland

Nutzende eines Fahrdienstes

At a glance


Some 60,000 people in Switzerland cannot use public transport at all or only to a limited extent for example due to a motor or visual impairment. To participate in daily life, they are dependent on paratransit services. Various insurance providers, such as health insurance funds and the Swiss public disability insurance and old-age and survivors' insurance schemes, partially provide financial support by subsidising travel. Similarly, there are foundations in some Swiss cantons that co-finance transport services. However, the responsibilities of these sponsors are often unclear. In addition, benefits may be tied to specific purposes and limited, for example, to a certain number of journeys per month.

Little is known about how people experience these limitations and how they affect the ability to work and engage in social activities. However, the viewpoint of those affected is relevant because Switzerland is obliged under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Swiss Disability Discrimination Act to facilitate the personal mobility of persons with disabilities.


The objective of the study is to assess the situation of people with limited mobility according to their use of paratransit services in Switzerland in order to develop recommendations for action.

Method and approach

For this project, the project team recorded the views of persons with disabilities from different perspectives and using several methods. First, using a qualitative approach, the experiences of those affected were identified by means of group discussions. These findings served as the basis for a large-scale quantitative survey in German-, French- and Italian-speaking Switzerland. The research team also compiled an overview of the legal basis for paratransit services in Switzerland. Based on this overview and the qualitative and quantitative surveys, the researchers developed recommendations for action involving relevant stakeholders.

Project Status

In the summer of 2021, 31 subjects participated in five group discussions. The results showed that people use paratransit services for various purposes, such as seeing the doctor, going to therapy, shopping, leisure activities, and work. The subjects use paratransit services with varying frequencies. Some can rely on private transport services such as those provided by relatives. For others, paratransit services are the only option. This is why the high cost and insufficient availability of such services and poor coordination between cantons have a limiting effect on the lives of people whose mobility depends on them. Nevertheless, all focus group participants appreciate the paratransit services offered. In particular, they mentioned the personal care they receive from the drivers and the reliability of their services.

Based on these findings, the research team developed a survey which was conducted from June to August 2022. 536 people participated. The results are now being evaluated.

In the fall of 2022, the research team also finalized an overview of legal requirements for the mobility of people who cannot use public transport or can only do so with restrictions. This showed that there is a need for clarification regarding the legal location of paratransit services and that the current responsibility of the cantons does not lead to a satisfactory result that complies with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. For example, the responsibility for financing is unclear: partly this is done by the social insurances, partly by the cantons and is consequently incomplete and unclear. In addition, paratransit services are not mentioned in the Disability Discrimination Act. As a result, there is discrimination of people with disabilities in relation to people without disabilities, but also in relation to people with disabilities among themselves.

Based on the results, recommendations for action are currently being developed. These will be discussed with various stakeholder groups – such as affected persons and politicians –in workshops before being revised. The workshops will take place at the beginning of 2023 in two selected regions of Switzerland. The aim is to conclude the project in summer 2023 and present the results in a final report.

Further information