Post Facto

A Blog by Holly French

Public Transportation In Budapest (Or, A Weekend Boat Excursion)

So about a week ago I made a goal. I feel like I know the public transportation system like the back of my hand now, since I take the metro everyday. I know the names of every single metro stop, and I have the schedules down reasonably well too. However, this has caused a few holes in my education of the city of Budapest. Since I’m always in the metros, despite hearing about all the metro stops from the cool female voice above on the intercom (in Hungarian), I actually know very little of what these metro stop locations look like above ground! So, I made a pact to ride the metros and get off at every stop to look around (even if it’s just for a few minutes) this week.

I didn’t fare too well - I barely made it through the Yellow Line, but I did have a lot of time to observe the inner workings of the public transportation system here in Budapest. Here are some thoughts:

Public transportation is a feature here you simply can’t miss when you’re in Budapest (even if you walk up and down just a street or two). It’s everywhere. It’s a densely connected network (if you like graphs, I found a few cliques :p), but to me, the most impressive thing about the public transport here is the sheer number of modes of transportation. Here’s a list:

  1. The metros. There are 3. Yellow, Blue, and Red.
    1. As I mentioned before, the Yellow Line is a World Heritage Site, and it's the second oldest underground railway in the world. It's cute and kinda slow. But cute!
    2. The Blue Line is the biggest - 21 stops. I ride it to work everyday.
    3. The Red Line goes under the Danube and is the least explored by me, so I don't have much else to say about it.
    4. One of the most interesting things about these metros is that the trains themselves are so old that they still have their old USSR logos on them in Russian! It's cool!
  2. The buses. The buses are pretty straightforward, but they run all the time. Pretty convenient, if you're into buses.
  3. The HÉV. I'm a huge fan of the HÉV. I took it to school every day last time I was here, and it's this great green train that goes to the suburb-y areas of Budapest.
  4. The little above ground tooty yellow trams. I think these are my favorite. I used to take the 4-6 yellow tram all the time because it stopped right by my house. It crosses two bridges and snakes through both Buda and Pest, and it helps me see and explore the city really well!

One thing that I particulary like about Budapest public transportation is the array of lovely sounds coming from its fleet of vehicles. Here are some of them:

Train sound 1

Train sound 2

However, the biggest news regarding Budapesti public transportation is the newest addition to their fleet of vehicles: BOATS! As of July 1, boats are now available for public transport across the city! So, Prezi organized a company trip to check out the new boats. We ended up boarding a boat, riding it up the Danube, and arriving at a perfect outdoor bar/sandwich shop/beach hangout along the river. The bar had a really interesting cherry beer on tap (which tastes really syrupy and not quite like beer but I highly recommend it!), and I even learned how to skip stones.

I feel like this newest addition to the array of Hungarian public transportation makes Budapest that much cooler in my eyes. Since the city is completely based around the Danube, it makes perfect sense that the city takes full advantage of it! So many landmarks are centered around the river, so why not ride a boat from place to place?

The system still isn’t perfect - the boat was boiling hot, and for some reason our public transport season passes don’t work on the boats for the weekend. Also, the boat didn’t play the public transportation sounds!! Alas. I think there’s still some efficiency that can be added to the boats instead of time spent making people buy weekend tickets to ride the boats. I also feel like the routes could be made a bit more optimal, though I’m sure the civil engineers behind this know much more about the inner workings of Budapest than I do.

However, if the BKV needs a part-time boat driver, I volunteer! I love riding under the bridges and looking at the Budapest landmarks and seeing people walking along the river banks. It’s totally cool.

Also, in other, unrelated news, I think my apartment may be set to catapult into Hollywood stardom very soon. As I write, I can see helicopters and movie vans along my block. Word on the street is that Bruce Willis is somewhere around here, filiming Mission Impossible. Apparently Budapest looks a lot like Moscow, so they’re using this very street as a fake Moscow.

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