Answer: The swirling eye is a pictogram that appears on many regional trains and buses throughout Switzerland. It signifies that there are no conductors on board to check tickets, so you’re on your honor to hold a valid pass or to buy a ticket before climbing aboard. Additionally, although there are no conductors on board collecting tickets, roaming inspectors may board at any time to check fares. The fines for getting caught without a valid ticket can be quite steep.
Swiss Pass holders can simply climb aboard and enjoy the ride, but non pass-holders and pass holders traveling outside of their designated travel days, must purchase a ticket in advance.
Fortunately, most stations provide automated ticket machines, so buying a fare is extremely easy to do. For short distances, the cost is usually negligible, especially when used in conjunction with a Swiss Card or Half-Fare card.
Tip: Purchasing short distance tickets at a reduced rate, (Swiss Card, Half Fare Card), can often prove more economical than using up precious travel days on the more comprehensive passes. Click here for more info regarding Swiss passes.