Urban Mobility Changes in Zurich
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During peak hours, Zurich's trains depart every 2.5 minutes and tram lines run every 5-6 minutes, symbolizing the Swiss penchant for punctuality and efficiency. Swiss trains services provider SBB arrives at the Zurich main station right next to the famous Bahnhofsstrasse and is known for an overall punctuality of more than 96 percent in 2022. A truly fantastic result compared to that of its neighbors like Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, which in 2023 nears the 50 percent punctuality rate. In this post, we have a look at some of the highlights of actual urban mobility changes in Zurich.

As bikes, e-bikes, and motorbikes proliferate, they're adding new contours to Zurich's transportation narrative. So, what do these changes portend for the city's transit infrastructure, its evolving urban landscape and the changes towards a more sustainable mobility in the city? As Zurich leans into a greener future, electrification of its vehicle fleet has become a central focus. According to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, electric vehicle (EV) registrations in the Canton of Zurich rose by approximately 50% between 2020 and 2021. The city itself aims to have 15% of all privately-owned cars be electric by 2025, part of its broader initiative to reduce carbon emissions by 40% over the next decade. Needless to say, electric Porsche Taycans, all Tesla Models and the top of the range Audi e-trons dominate the sights when it comes to electric cars. 

The charging infrastructure in Zurich is expanding in tandem, with over 300 public charging points currently operational in the city, according to the city's Department of Transport. Even traditional forms of public transportation are not left behind in this electric wave; Zurich's trams and buses are gradually transitioning to electric or hybrid models. The upswing in electrification not only aligns with Zurich's sustainability goals but also complements the increasing popularity of e-bikes, forming a comprehensive approach to eco-friendly urban mobility.

"The city itself aims to have 15% of all privately-owned cars be electric by 2025, part of its broader initiative to reduce carbon emissions by 40% over the next decade."
Michael Brecht on smart mobility changes in Zurich.

The Rise of the Two-Wheelers

Against this established backdrop, bicycles and motorbikes are making significant inroads, here are some of the major micromobility achievements in Zurich:

Bicycles and E-bikes

In the past half-decade, bicycle commuting has swelled by 30% in Zurich, per the City of Zurich's Department of Transport. Specifically, e-bikes are carving out a sizable market share, making up one in four new bike purchases.


Motorbike registrations have surged by 20 percent over the last three years, signifying a drift towards more personalized and swifter modes of commuting. With the expected electrification of motorbikes we’ll see a rising number of electric BMW Scooters, CAKE bikes, Livewire motorcycles or the brand new PAVE motorbikes from the Brooklyn mobility startup starting deliveries in Europe in mid 2024.

Shared Mobility and Employer Initiatives

The city's bike-sharing program, Züri Velo, has further normalized biking, boasting over 200 stations and thousands of users around the Zürisee. Since its launch, it has gained significant traction and serves as an extension to public transport, covering the 'last-mile' for many commuters. Major employers in Zurich like Google, Ringier, and TX Group are promoting sustainable commuting by establishing dedicated bike parking facilities for their employees. These initiatives not only facilitate greener commutes but also alleviate the pressure on public transport and parking infrastructure. 

Another noteworthy initiative in Zurich's quest for sustainable urban transport is the adaptation of car-sharing services, most notably by Mobility. This popular Swiss provider offers around 200 vehicles in Zurich alone, with a strong focus on transitioning to a more eco-friendly fleet. As of 2022, Mobility has committed to making 10% of its fleet in Zurich electric, aligning with the city's broader electrification goals. The sharing provider set itself the goal of completely electrifying its entire fleet – currently around 3’000 vehicles throughout the whole of Switzerland – by no later than 2030. To support this, the provider has also partnered with local authorities to increase the number of electric charging stations available to its users.

Balancing Act: Challenges and Opportunities

Despite its affluence, Zurich grapples with issues of traffic congestion and parking. With 35% of households owning at least one car, the many drivers commuting into Zurich to and from work, and an ever-increasing number of two-wheelers, the city faces a challenge. Congestion alone accounts for an estimated annual loss of 1.5 billion CHF in productivity, according to the Swiss Federal Roads Office. The ascent of two-wheelers could also mean a dip in public transport ridership. Even a 10% drop in usage could result in an estimated 40 million CHF loss in annual revenue for Zurich's public transport providers.

The Path Forward

Zurich's next steps should include an expansion of its current 130 kilometers of bike lanes, the incorporation of more motorcycle parking facilities, and the design of public transport packages that integrate multiple mobility options.

In conclusion, the rise of two-wheelers is both a challenge and a catalyst, nudging Zurich to further innovate its venerable public transport system. It's an exciting chapter in Zurich's urban story, one where the city is forging a multifaceted, adaptive, and sustainable transportation landscape, taking into account the fast, the efficient, and the eco-conscious alike.