Public transport in Winterthur

In a research project for and with the city administration of Winterthur, the MobINE team tried to find out, if and how the BiCar (a new kind of electricity-driven vehicle which was developed by ZHAW) can be usefully implemented in Winterthur’s transport systems. During this research, not only the BiCar was looked at but also the development of transport and mobility in Winterthur as such. Some results concerning public transportation will be presented in this blogpost. As Winterthur has a bus and trolleybus system for urban transport and is connected to the ZVV (Zurich Transport Network) S-Bahn (suburban train) system, these are the two focal points here.

As most communities in Switzerland, Winterthur accounts for a growing population (mostly due to international migration). This of course means rising numbers in people travelling and therefore increasing pressures on the transport systems. Public transport as a form of mass transit is the best way, to lower the impact of a growing number of travelling people. However, not only the number of inhabitants is growing but also the distances per person which even amplifies the pressures.

Looking at the development since 2000, the bus system in Winterthur (“Stadtbus Winterthur”) has experienced growth, especially in the last ten years (see figure). Looking at an indexed development of both passenger and population numbers tells that especially in the last years, we realize that the growth in public transport exceeds the population growth. This means that the growth in passenger numbers might be able to also compensate the aforementioned increased average distances per person. The bus system in Winterthur therefore has an important role and potential for the increase in sustainability of Winterthur’s transport system.


The data of the S-Bahn system show something that is not unexpected: The main train station (Winterthur Hauptbahnhof) is by far the most important transit hub. The other stations have only rather marginal numbers Due to the dominance of the main station, it is not surprising that it also accounts for the highest increase in absolute passenger numbers (see map on top). Looking at the relative development however, the increase at the main station is still visible, but not as high as at most of the other stations (see map below). So especially the living quarters outside of the inner city, which also are of course the areas where the population growth takes place, account for high increase rates of passenger numbers. This shows on the one hand the potential of public transport users that can still be activated in these areas. On the other hand it shows that a dense and attractive public transport network is motivating the people to also use it.



SBahnWinterthur_passengernumbers S-Bahn_jährlichProzent_EN_webSo after all, the public transport of Winterthur seems to have a high potential for the development of the city towards becoming more sustainable while still providing the infrastructure to cover its population’s mobility needs.


Data sources: Stadt Winterthur, Stadtbus Winterthur

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