One of the things people mention first when talking about the benefits of living in Zurich and Switzerland is the transport system.No doubt, being able to plan a journey and have no fears as to the accuracy of the information makes getting around much less stressful and the all-important reliability is a blessing. Not to mention making it easier to stick to appointments.But sometimes a car is necessary and on those occasions we have possibly the best Car Sharing system in the world – Mobility.This article is intended to serve as a comprehensive guide to using the Mobility system in Switzerland.
How It Works
It all starts at the Mobility website – http://mobility.ch/ Mobility has locations (stations) across Switzerland. Usually located by rail stations and city centres, there are over 1,700 vehicles available from 140 towns and cities. Each station has its own vehicles. This is an extremely important point. You cannot pick up a car in, say, Luzern, and drop it off in Zurich. If you pick up a Mobility car from one Mobility station, it can only be returned to that station. If anything this is the only restriction (apart from cost) but of course, it makes perfect sense otherwise you would have dozens of cars being dumped in city centers and nothing in more remote locations. So, having found the station you want to rent from, you pick your vehicle from one of the ten categories available, which range from small electric vehicles to full-blown Mercedes vans. If you need a specific type of vehicle, say a cabriolet, you can search for a vehicle on the site and see where the nearest one is located. If you want a fairly standard vehicle choice, you can most likely find it at your nearest station. As for the cars themselves, Mobility favours Renault, which are producing some very nice cars indeed. But you can also get BMW, Honda and Skoda cars. Note that the Combi is an estate car. With your station and vehicle selected, you book the car for the period of time required and away you go. You can get confirmation of your booking by email, SMS or via the smart phone apps. For the final step of actually getting in and driving away, you need a Mobility card which you get as a result of a Mobility membership. You can use Mobility without a subscription but more of that later. When you go to your vehicle at the time of your booking, you touch the windscreen where the reader is located inside the vehicle and the doors open. Keys are left in the glove box unless the car selected uses an electronic key. There is a display unit above the windscreen that shows you the detail of your reservation. You can use this unit to extend your reservation if available, or end it early.
You can also call the Mobility center via the unit.
Once you have returned to the original station before the end of your reservation, you end the reservation from the unit above your head, leave the car and lock it again with your Mobility card up against the windscreen reader.
Regarding petrol, the cost of this is included in your hire cost but it is your responsibility to ensure that the car does not run dry. If you need (or want) to fill up, there is a fuel card inserted into the on board computer from one of the major fuel retailers so as long as you use the correct retailer, you will not have to pay.
If the card is missing or the particular retailer is not available you can still buy fuel and get the cost refunded from Mobility as long as you send them the receipt.
There is a FairPlay rule at Mobility that states that you should leave the vehicle at the station with at least one third of the tank full.
Rates for using Mobility vary based on your subscription but basically the rental cost you will pay consists of:
- the hourly rate
- the per km rate
So the lowest-priced rental would be a short term one with low distance traveled. Full rate information is available here.The Mobility website is very conscious that the system is right for you so it offers a cost calculator where you can select a vehicle, rental duration and estimated distance to see what the cost is likely to be. For longer rentals they will also show the cost of hiring a car from one of the rental partners.
An Annual Subscription currently costs 290CHF but a 100CHF discount is available if you have a Half Card or General Abonnement. If you hold an annual pass for one of the regional transport companies (eg the ZVV in Zurich) then you can get an annual subscription for just 25CHF. Interestingly, a Trial Subscription of four months is available for 70CHF or 40CHF if you have a Migros Cumulus card. For all subscriptions you must provide a copy of your driving licence.
Using Mobility Without A Subscription
nIf you are willing to limit your choice of Mobility stations to SBB rail stations, you can use Click & Drive. Here, you can reserve a vehicle at an SBB station, collect the Mobility card from the ticket office and pay for the rental by credit card. No need for a subscription and ideal for those who will use Mobility a couple of times per year.
\r\nAlong with the SBB service, Mobility is one of the first things I like to brag about when I talk about living in Switzerland. The process of walking up to a car you have reserved, holding your wallet up to the windscreen and then getting into the vehicle feels like the stuff of magic. The service center is also very good. Just before a recent rental I got a call to say that the passenger door of the car I had reserved was stuck and that they had switched my reservation to another nearby station. As I was driving alone the door was not a problem so they just switched it back.You must bear in mind the limitation of having to bring the car back to its “home” station and also keep an eye on cost. Renting a cabrio for a day to drive 500km is going to cost you a lot of money. Conversely, I rented a combi (estate) to carry some furniture around Zurich for a couple of hours and it cost me 13CHF. From the cost perspective, make use of the Cost Comparison Tool. strongly recommend the Mobility system, you only need to see how many of the bright red Renault Combis are parked at Ikea on Saturdays to see the benefit!