Swiss cut public transport prices

GENEVA: Regional authorities in Switzerland temporarily cut bus and train fares on Saturday to encourage people to leave their cars at home, as a scorching heatwave sent ozone pollution levels soaring.

In Geneva, all public transportation was available at reduced rates, the regional environment department said, adding that the lower prices would continue until the ozone levels were back to normal.

“Considering the ozone spike ... car and motorbike drivers across Geneva are asked to choose public transportation, and benefit from reduced rates,” it said.

The measure, aimed at reducing vehicle-driven pollution, means a bus or tram ticket in the Swiss city will cost two Swiss francs instead of three.

In neighbouring Vaud and Valais, where ozone levels have also been unusually high, authorities meanwhile decided to offer a rebate on train discount cards.

Switzerland, like a range of other European countries, has in recent days been facing a searing heatwave, with temperatures as high as 38 degrees Celsius.

The heat is driving an increase in pollution, with ground levels of health-hazardous ozone soaring well above the normal average of 120 microgrammes per cubic metre in several Swiss regions, reaching as high as 260 microgrammes per cubic metre in the south.