Basel Promotes ETaxis; Sweat Over Sweatpants Ban; Vanity Plate Auction Record; Bus/Train-Swap Spat Erupts

News For 28 March 2017

In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of Basel's taxis, the canton is sponsoring an educational event early next month for taxi drivers and fleet operators.  The event will give drivers the opportunity to test drive the latest models of e-cars, and to learn about subsidies and programs sponsored by the canton to motivate the switch from gasoline to electric powered vehicles.  So far the reception by the industry has been cool considering the competitive pressures it already faces from ride-sharing apps, and reduced demand from an already environmentally conscious population.  However, Kurt Schaufelberger, Managing Director of the BaslerTaxi headquarters, believes that with expanded e-service and refilling stations there is a possibility of successfully moving to an e-fleet of taxis.   *********** Sweatpants are a comfortable clothing choice for many students in Basel. However, city schools are considering banning sweatpants from their classrooms. According to teachers and officials, people who wear sweatpants are often regarded as lazy and/or slow. As the proposed ban was met with a lot of resistance, a group consisting of students and teachers are going to try to figure out a solution before the ban comes into effect at the end of this year. *********** Although vanity license plates for cars with clever acronyms and anagrams are not possible in Switzerland, there is still plenty of demand for ones that bear low numbers.  Case in point was just a few weeks ago, when the canton of Valais managed to auction off the plate VS-1 for a record 160,000 CHF.  In Switzerland, as is the case in most European countries, the license plate reflects the registration origin of the car followed by a number.  Furthermore, since the plates are actually issued to a driver as opposed to a vehicle, license plates can be passed from generation to generation and held by families.  Hence the demand for "low" numbers, which would indicate a long-standing relationship with one's canton in the case of Switzerland - kind of like Royalty for driving privileges.  And so the case of the record clearing price, now that cantons have caught on to the demand for such plates.  Before the latest record, someone had paid 135,000 CHF for a St. Gallen #1 plate.  The money raised by the canton's typically goes into its general funds. *********** The Basel-land district administration would like to convert the S-Bahn S9, or "Läufelfingerli" to a bus line. The city goverment has stated that in doing so, it can save 840'000 CHF in the long term. The S9, which currently runs through Basel, Sissach and Olten, is on one of the oldest commuter rail lines in Switzerland. A bus line would make the ride to Olten around 15 minutes longer. A committee for public transport has called for a referendum, saying that a conversion from train to bus will make it more difficult to connect with the national railway network.