All About Transportation

I've learned a thing or two about transportation while at Franklin. As students, we use public transportation ALL the time! From buses to trains to planes to boats. Believe me, we've got it covered. So here's my rundown of what I've learned about transportation in my years at Franklin; from how to get my groceries back up the hill, to how to score the best flights on long weekend trips! 

La Posta Buses // 

La Posta are the yellow buses that run from downtown Lugano up to campus and beyond. The one that runs past Franklin is bus #436. There are two "Franklin" bus stops on via Ponte Tresa: the bus stop near Airone / between Kaletsch and North Campus is called Clinica St. Anna, and the bus stop in front of the New Building dorms is called Sorengo S. Grotto. 

Oh and if you live at Alba there is a bus stop called Besso that is right near your dorm too and this bus can take you either up to campus or down to Lugano centro, depending on what direction you take it! 

Bus Schedules 
There are 3 easy ways to find the bus schedule! 

1) it is posted at every bus stop - feel free to snap a picture for future reference 

2) you can visit the La Posta website, put in your departure time/location, and it will let you know when the next bus is

3) you can view a PDF of the entire timetable for the 436 bus schedule

Buying a ticket
Don't worry about buying your ticket beforehand, for the La Posta buses you can buy your ticket on the bus. Just board through the front door and tell the driver where you are headed. If you are going to downtown, "Lugano Centro", then the ticket should just be 2.40chf. Once you've paid and received your ticket, you are good to go and the ticket is valid for travel for 1 hour. 

The best bus stop ever
I personally enjoy the walk downtown, but after I have done all my grocery shopping and have a bunch of heavy bags I am desperate for a bus back up the hill! Luckily the 436 bus is conveniently located just around the corner from Migros. Unfortunately, it took me a whole year to figure this out. So I hope that I can spare some future freshman the same pain of lugging groceries up the hill and longingly watching they yellow buses roll by like I did! 

Here's the trick: The bus is at an underground bus station. All you have to do is exit Migros, cross the street, follow the road, take your first left between some shops (you'll pass a pharmacy) and then across another side street you'll see a giant cement structure. This is the parking garage/bus station called Autosilo Balestra. Enter it, turn left, and if it is before 5pm buy your ticket for the bus at the ticket counter (if the ticket counter is closed you can buy it on the bus), then follow the stairs downstairs and into the bus station, find the 436 bus and voilà! The bus will take you all the way back to campus, no lugging of groceries up the hill required. :) 

Buy 5, get 1 Free 
Another reason to check out the Autosilo Balestra: if you give yourself a few extra minutes and it is before 5pm, ask at the ticket counter about their 6 ticket pass between Lugano and Sorengo. Basically you pay for 5 tickets and get the 6th ticket free, which is a great deal because you save money and you save time - you'd then just need to hold on to 1 big ticket that you validate each time you step on the bus! Plus you don't have to worry about having spare change with you. 

The Ikea Bus 
Another important bus that some Franklin students are unaware of: the IKEA bus! 
Both the 431 and the 433 buses go to Lugano Centro Sud. That is the giant shopping center where there is an Ikea, a Coop, a mall (with a Zara!), and tons of other stores. The bus ride is about 4.50chf, which is wayyyy cheaper than a taxi!  

Ticket Checkers 
Bus tickets are done on the honor system, so it is possible to get on the bus without a ticket and the bus driver will trust you just have a bus pass. But don't think you can outsmart the system by doing this and never paying for a ticket. The bus does send out occasional ticket checkers and they are super sneaky! They dress in plain clothes, and hide their ticket checking device so that you'd never know they were an official until the bus is moving, and then they stand up and ask everyone for their tickets. If you don't have a ticket, they will fine you. So it really is best to just buy your ticket! 

Swiss Trains // 
SBB is the Swiss rail line. Tickets can be bought at the train stations in the office or at one of their kiosk machines, online, or through the SBB app! If you have the app you can just show them the ticket on your phone and they will scan it. 

Also: if you ever take a TPL bus from anywhere in Lugano (the gray buses, that are not run by La Posta) you can also purchase tickets for them through this app! 

Half fare + After 7 
I had a half pass + After 7 card my freshmen year at Franklin and loved it! I'm not sure what the exact cost is now, because it changes every year, but for mine I paid about 340chf for the year and it definitely paid for it itself and then some! With those two you get half fare on all train tickets and some bus tickets, plus you ride for free after 7pm. Plus you get 25% off train tickets in Germany and Austria. 

I highly recommend that every student at least get it 1 year they are at Franklin! While I had mine, I took daytrips to Bellinzona, Luzern, and Bern, a weekend trip to the Swiss Alps, plus I used the After 7 portion when I traveled by train to/from France and Germany for trips. It was a money saver and it inspired me to see so much of Switzerland! That year I spent a lot of time on trains, but I really came to love them because even the journey itself was so scenic! 

SBB specials 
It is definitely worth checking the SBB website for their latest specials! 
All the time they will have special deals like travel with a friend for half price, or free! 
Or they have special Snow n' Rail deals with discounts on purchasing a train ticket and lift ticket for a ski resort together. 
Or some "Supersaver" tickets that are offered at a 50% discount. 

Italian Trains // 
Trenitalia is the Italian train website if you want to travel anywhere in Italy. 

Some important things to note: 
1) While they offer a website in English, you still have to put your destination in Italian, i.e. Milano instead of Milan or Venezia instead of Venice.  
2) Italian trains are notoriously NOT on time, so don't schedule your connections too close together or take the last train of the night. I made the mistake of doing that once and when my train was delayed by 45min., I missed the last train back to Lugano and was stuck overnight in Milan. Lesson learned! 
3) Don't select "pick up ticket at train station" because they are only available in Italian train stations and you are departing from Switzerland, so it is better to have them mail it to you (if you have time) or to just have an electronic copy you print out. 

They offer Economy / Super Economy tickets which are cheap and super cheap deals!  
Also, sometimes on weekends they will have 2 for 1 deals on Saturdays where it is buy 1 get 1 free. 

Airports // 
Milan Malpensa (MXP) - I've always flown in/out of here for all of my trips, so it's what I recommend you go with. It's the easiest to get to and the biggest. 
Linate - Some students fly in/out of here when coming and going to Franklin for semesters, but I've never really heard of someone doing a weekend trip from here. I don't think that any of the major shuttle companies go here from Lugano. 
Bergamo - Some budget airlines fly out of here, like Ryanair, but it is hard to get to, basically you have to go to Milan and then take a bus from Milan to Bergamo. 

Getting to the Airport 
All three of these shuttle companies pick up from the Lugano Train station and drop off at the MXP airport. (and vice-versa) You can see their schedules/prices by clicking on their names, also it is usually worth mentioning that you are a student, sometimes they will give you a discount.  

Finding Flights // 
So you have a long weekend at Franklin and want to go somewhere but don't know where to start the search. 
I always start with Skyscanner. It's my favorite because it lets you type in a date, an airport you are departing from, and just put "everywhere" as your destination and it will sort your options by price and country! Then you can explore your options further from there. It includes results from all the usual budget airlines that Franklin loves to fly like Easyjet, Ryanair, Wizzair, and even some I've never heard of before using this! 

This was a long post, but I hope that I can make life a little easier for some students who might still be figuring things out! It's taken me 4 years to figure out the ins and outs of transportation at Franklin! So I'm happy to share that knowledge with others! 

Any other Franklin students out there want to chime in with your tips/tricks for navigating transportation at Franklin? Feel free to comment below! 


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