|Type||Zrt. (Publicly owned company)|
|Headquarters||Budapest, Erzsébetváros Akácfa street 15., Hungary|
|Owner(s)||Budapest Metropolitan City Council (100% public ownership)|
BKV (Budapest Transport Plc. – the abbreviation BKV stands for its earlier name Budapesti Közlekedési Vállalat; Budapest Transport Company, occasionally used up to these days) was established in 1968 as the unified public transport company of Budapest, with the merger of the companies responsible for the different means of public transport: tram and trolleybus operator FVV, bus operator FAÜ, suburban railway operator BHÉV and riverboat operator Hajózási Vállalat. The Metro was added in 1973. The transport in Budapest underwent another reorganization in 2010 when BKK (Budapesti Közlekedési Központ, lit. Center for Transport in Budapest) was founded for the management of the city transport and infrastructure. Since then, BKV is the largest public transport contractor of the BKK, operating 3 metro, 5 HÉV, 33 tram, 15 trolley bus, and most vehicles on the 213 local bus and 39 night bus lines.
- 1 Road vehicle operation
- 2 Service on tracks
- 3 Passenger statistics
- 4 Funding
- 5 Corruption Scandal
- 6 Usage
- 7 Description of major vehicle types used by BKV
- 8 Livery and colors
- 9 In pop culture
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Road vehicle operation
City-owned BKV runs most of the vehicles of the extensive network of surface mass transportation in Budapest, with the emphasis on buses. The 1200 buses in Budapest (the majority of which are Ikarus) circulate on 213 routes. The livery of buses used to be blue (grey above the window line), however, the newly acquired or refurbished low-floor buses are painted skyblue. Trolleybuses in red livery are operated on 15 lines. The night service is provided exclusively by buses. The articulated bus is a hallmark of Budapest; both diesel and ETB bendy vehicles have been running since the late 1950s and still form the majority of BKV's fleet.
In recent years, the bus service has been increasingly plagued by traffic jams as car use has increased and the narrow, congested streets of Budapest rarely allow for separate bus-lanes. Many motorists ignore bus-lane markings anyway, while few traffic lights fast-gate buses. The tough road conditions in Budapest incur continually high vehicle maintenance costs and inconvenience for bus passengers. Working conditions (esp. the age of the vehicles) and competitive wages are a serious issue as bus drivers are often lured to the trucking industry. Yet, the city council traditionally favours a bus service, owing to its flexibility and lower initial costs; some 150 brand new articulated buses were procured in 2004-2006.
Service on tracks
BKV operates 33 city tram lines and 4 commuter railway lines into the suburban agglomeration. The once-extensive network of tram tracks and the brown striped yellow streetcars were a characteristic of Budapest, but the network was curtailed after the fall of Communism, owing to lack of funding. Line 4-6 is still the largest capacity tram-line in Europe. The streetcar and cogwheel railway services are now set to have a renaissance as there is no further road capacity for bus lanes in Budapest. Financing is being sought from the EU to help replace the more than 40-year-old rolling stock, starting with new 54-meter long Siemens Combino Supra giants intended for the 4-6 line.
The underground railway network is less extensive, including two full-sized metros (red M2, running roughly east-west and blue M3, north-south) utilizing Soviet technology, and the MFAV (or Földalatti), a small-sized underground tramway, which is over 100 years old. A third full-sized metro (M4) should be completed by 2011, as well as a high speed rail link to Ferihegy BUD international airport, which is currently served by bus from the end of the M3 metro line. – See the main article Budapest Metro. In 2005 a "BEB" monthly pass was introduced for a 10% extra cost over the regular price, which permitted the use of the MÁV national railway lines within the city area, effectively increasing the tracked service for BKV's passengers. Since 2009, all monthly (and 15-day) passes, now called a "Budapest Pass", are valid on the national railway and suburban bus lines within city boundaries.
As of 2009, approximately 54% of the passenger traffic in Budapest, a city of 1.7 million inhabitants, is still carried by BKV vehicles, with the remaining 46% using private vehicles. During 2003 a total of 1.4 billion people travelled by BKV. During the Socialist era, Budapest had 2 million residents and its public vs. private transport ratio (the so-called modal split) was 80% : 20% in favor of mass transit. This ratio was a result of artificial restriction: COMECON rules did not allow Hungary to produce private cars domestically and Dacia / Lada / Škoda / Trabant car imports were never enough. (After the Iron Curtain fell, a large number of second hand cars were imported from Austria and Western Europe, leading to rapid private motorisation of Budapest's streets.)
Since the fall of communism BKV has been constantly plagued by a lack of funding and its fleet is becoming obsolete; as of October 2009 the average BKV diesel bus is 16,5 years old and the oldest one of the 1400 strong fleet is 24 years old, with 3,5 million kilometers to its track record. BKV operates on a net-loss basis; state-mandated ticket prices cover less than 50% of running costs. The state circumvents EU regulations by failing to fully compensate the BKV company for operating costs and amortization, and so funds for new vehicles are scarce. BKV has survived by selling off some of its old garage and repair bases for mall and housing development.
In 2004-2006, 150 low-floor Volvo 7700A articulated buses were acquired via a long term leasing agreement from Volvo Polska, to provide a replacement service during months of extensive reconstruction work on the M2 underground line and the lengthy 4-6 tram line. This batch of 150 Volvos represents the first significant new addition to BKV's fleet in five years. A contract has been signed about buying a single large batch of new underground railway trains from Alstom, at considerable discount, for the M4 line (under construction) and the refurbished M2 line. The first trains for M2 have already arrived and entered service in September 2012. The whole M2 line will be equipped with the new trains by spring 2013.
In 2009-2010 investigations into corruption led the police examine all money logs and contracts of the 20-year period individually, to find issues unrelated to the already detected ones. Many high-level employees and independent or in-company participants were arrested and sentenced. This issue led the owner, the Local Government of the Capital City making BKV accept a new Company Inner Regulation System and its assembly enacting local government degrees guaranteeing complete transparency in the contracts, billings, and job descriptions for the owner, and for all representatives of its assembly even individually. This regulation was extended to all enterprises owned in mayority by the city council.
BKV uses a paper-based system of tickets and passes; a 32-euro pass allows an adult to travel on any BKV vehicle for one month. There are plans to introduce smartcard passes and tickets within a few years, in an attempt to reduce fare evasion (by approximately 10% of passengers).
- See also the usage of the Budapest Metro.
People with disabilities
Only a minority of regular BKV vehicles are wheelchair accessible: Ikarus 412 diesel and ETB low-floor buses, Solaris ETB trolley buses, Volvo and Van Hool articulated buses, Localo solo buses and a few stations on the metro system. There are, however, a few small-sized BKV buses, which can be reserved by phone to transport a person using a wheelchair. The M4 metro line will have public elevators installed in every station. Most of the current M2 and M3 metro stations only have escalators.
Currently available regular service line with handicapped-compatible low-floor vehicles:
- line M1: Only stations Deák tér, Széchenyi fürdő, Mexikói út. (a disabled person has to ask for the operator of the wheelchair lift; lifts non-functional since at least 2009)
- line M2: Only stations Stadionok, Pillangó utca, Örs vezér tere
- 4, 6: all vehicles (except for some during peak hours)
Nearly all of the bus and trolleybus lines have some low-floor or low-entry cars, except for bus lines 16, 16A, 27, 30, 30A, 39, 45, 100, 116, 121, 150E, 169E, 172E, 174, 203, 203A, 225, 230, 233E, 237, 239, 251 (most of them due to traffic engineering characteristics), and trolleybus lines 73 and 79 (due to the scarcity of low-floor vehicles)
Description of major vehicle types used by BKV
All buses in Budapest run on diesel fuel.
- Ikarus 260: Domestically produced, 11 meters (36.1 ft) long, entirely high-floor buses; age of fleet between 18 and 26 years. Considered the "workhorse", it negotiates poor road conditions and heavy use easily, but passengers suffer a lot of noise and vibration from the under-floor mounted engine. Their age often causes concern both among laymen and experts, but their exceptionally sturdy and serviceable build allows them to reach an age of approximately 30 years. They are still likely to be phased out around 2014, when the oldest non-rebuilt vehicle will reach an age of 28.
- Ikarus 263: Hungarian made, 12 meters (39.4 ft) long, entirely high-floor buses. A longer and more modern version of Ikarus 260.
- Ikarus 280: Articulated version of the Ikarus 260; age of fleet between 17 and 24 years. Some of the fleet were entirely rebuilt in 1997 and painted in red-blue livery for use on 7-173 express routes, but from 2008 onwards, some of them were repainted in the standard blue livery. These are the long, bendy version of the Ikarus 260.
- Ikarus 405: Two-door, 7.3 meters (24 ft) long, partially low-floor minibuses for weight-restricted routes, such as the Castle District and Gellért Hill. The design is extremely compact, which results in a cramped passenger compartment. Equipped with fragile independent front suspension, it is prone to roll, but is still expected to run on hilly routes, for lack of a replacement. Most Ikarus 405 vehicles have tilted, 3 shade green striping painted at the front and back, except for those rebuilt in 2011 and 2012, which have a horizontal grey stripe instead.
- Ikarus 412: Locally manufactured, 12 meters (39.4 ft) long, entirely low-floor buses; age of fleet between 10 and 12 years. The type is a serious failure, manufactured during the final decline of the Ikarus company; literally no two vehicles are identical in the 412 fleet. A number of vehicles have been already refurbished since 2009. Several engine compartment fires forced BKV to rebuild the propulsion cells and the chassis is still prone to fracture. Suffers from narrower rear door and gangway. Almost the 412 are painted in a light shade of blue, except for reconstructed and repainted vehicles, which are dark blue and have a horizontal grey stripe on the front.
- Ikarus 415: Locally manufactured, 11.4 meters (37 ft) long, entirely high-floor buses, age of fleet between 17 and 24 years. Their rear-mounted DAF diesel engines are famous for their terrible roar, scaring passers-by, but the cab is quieter. The reduced size of their rear passenger door of the later models is can cause problems during peak hours. Almost all Ikarus 415 vehicles originally had tilted, 3 shade green striping at the front and rear, though the stripes have been removed from many of them during recent maintenance.
- Ikarus 435: Locally manufactured, 17.9 meters (59 ft) long articulated version of Ikarus 415; age of fleet between 15 and 18 years. Initially equipped with pusher-type articulated drive, they suffered a lot of technical problems and still struggle with chassis weaknesses. They are generally liked by passengers, as their 735 mm (28.94 in) high floor is lower than the Ikarus 200 series' 960 mm (37.8 in) very high floor level. Along with the Ikarus 280 and Volvo 7700A, the Ikarus 435 is the workhorse of the BKV bus fleet. It is common to see rebuilt versions around the city. These vehicles have tilted, 3 shade green stripes at the front and back, which is gradually being phased out in recent repaints, as with Ikarus 415.
- Renault Agora: Branded as "Ikarus Agora" by the manufacturer Renault-Irisbus (the owner of Ikarus at the time of purchase), this 18 meters (59 ft) long low-floor, articulated bus is not really an Ikarus, but rather a French-made vehicle rebranded to improve public perception. Only one bus is in service, given to BKV by Irisbus as compensation for delayed shipments.
- Ikarus V187: One locally manufactured, 18.75 meters (61.5 ft) long, entirely low-floor, articulated bus, built in 2010. The longest bus in BKV's fleet, and also the most environmentally friendly one, fitted with a Euro-5 engine. Currently on a 3-year lease to BKV by Ikarus, though the company is considering purchasing the vehicle after the lease period ends.
- Volvo 7700: BKV bought 38 used Volvo 7700 vehicles in 2012 to replace Ikarus 412's in the hilly routes of Buda, where they ran unreliably. (The 412's were reassigned to generally flatter areas in Pest.) These Volvos finally entered service in early 2013 and are painted in a light shade of blue officially termed "sky blue".
- Volvo 7700A: Polish made 17.9 meters (58.7 ft) long bendy buses, based on Swedish B7LA chassis. Considered a technological marvel by experts for cramming four double doors and a usable gangway into a fully low-floor vehicle with vertically mounted engine. Current fleet of 150 arrived in three batches of fifty in 2004/2005/2006; the latest model is extremely advanced. Some passengers do not like them because of the cramped standing areas (low floor design causes slimmer standing areas), and slower run times (due to poor road conditions, especially on the 7-173 line). During their service years, they became liked vehicles because of their higher comfort level and quietness. All of them are air conditioned (the first 50 was equipped by AC later), which is unique to BKV's bus fleet.
- Van Hool A300: Belgian made 12 meters (39.4 ft) long low-floor buses, 13 of them built in 2000-2001 and bought by BKV in 2011. Unlike the AG300, these have been repainted in BKV's signature blue livery.
- Van Hool AG300: Belgian-made 18 meters (59.1 ft) long articulated bus, the articulated version of the A300. The AG300 is a special type of fully low-floor buses - the engine is located between the first and the second axles, so the third axle can be steered. 32 of them were bought by BKV in the summer of 2009 to ease the lack of modern vehicles. They were built in 2000-2001 and used in Brussels. At BKV they were equipped by AC, but despite the plans they weren't painted blue yet, they run with their original color (some of them are yellow, others are silver). They seem massive enough for appalling roads, but their mechanical conditions are poor so they aren't reliable at all. Passengers noticed them for narrow inner space of the fore part, although the back has rather a large standee place.
- MAN SL 223: Turkish-German made, 12 meters (39.4 ft) long, entirely high-floor buses with an age of 10 years. They are owned by VT-Transman and operated on some South-Western small-volume routes in a private venture, but for regular fee.
- Alfabusz-Volvo Localo: Hungarian made 12.5 meters (41 ft) buses with partially low-floor floor combination, based on a Swedish Volvo B7RLE chassis. They are massive and running fast enough but many passengers don't like it because of the extreme high rear section. They are not owned by BKV but by subcontractor VT-Transman.
- Mercedes-Benz Citaro, purchased in 2011 and preliminary entered service in 2012, these buses have been bought used from various Western-European cities. They are expected to be withdrawn from service while BKV retrofits them with larger windows and the standard BKV colors, after which they will properly enter regular service. Similar buses are also owned by Volánbusz.
- Other types:
- Volvo 7700A owned by Volánbusz
- King Long XMQ6121G owned by Volánbusz's subcontractors, T&J Limited and Kontakt-Busz Limited.
VT Transman is BKV's subcontractor running some routes by their own vehicles, but those vehicles have blue-grey painting like BKV's, and they are completely integrated in BKV system. Volánbusz or its subsubcontractors runs suburban lines. But they are members of Budapest Transport Organization (BKSZ), so their lines can be used by regular tickets inside the city (300s, 600s, 700s, 800s and 2000s lines).
- Ikarus 411/412T: The 412T is a 12 m (39.4 ft) long low floor Ikarus 412 body equipped with Kiepe electronics. Limited fleet, resulting from the collapse of Ikarus and BKV's lack of funds during late-90's. The similar-looking, 11m long 411T is, however, a unique vehicle which is a couple of years older: it was an Ikarus test trolleybus, and later it was transferred to BKV as a compensation for delayed shipments.
- Gräf&Stift MAN NGE-152: Low-floor, articulated trolley buses bought used from the city of Eberswalde to replace the aging ZiU fleet.
- Solaris Trollino: Polish-made fully low-floor 12-meter (39.4 ft) buses designed as genuine ETB vehicles. They do surprisingly well on bad Budapest roads, but the fleet is limited: BKV operates only 16 of them. Following the fiscal collapse of the Ganz Transelektro Group, the local co-manufacturer the delivery of the 2nd series was delayed for several months, and was finalized by Skoda, the new owner of Ganz Transelektro.
- ZiU-9: Withdrawn from service in late 2012, these 11.8-meter (38.7 ft) Soviet-made vehicles had partial semi-low floor at the rear. The age of fleet was 28–34 years, and the vehicles suffered from rust as well as degraded insulation of the electric drive system.
- ICS: Abbreviation of Ipari Csuklós (English: Industrial Articulated), built by Ganz between 1967 and 1978 in Hungary, 26 meters (85.3 ft) long, high-floor, double-articulated, 8 axle tram. Almost every time they run single, but at the Grand Boulevard coupled. Similarly narrow-bodied as the UV type, they can be used on any BKV tram route. The name "Industrial" is used to distinguish the trams from the earlier "Home-made" articulated trams (commonly known as "Bengalis", no longer in service), built by BKV itself.
- KCSV-7: 30 of the 150 ICS has been re-bodied and rebuilt by Ganz-Ansaldo between 1996 and 1999, with passenger compartment heating and modernized engines. KCSV stands for Közúti Csuklós Villamos or Korszerűsített Csuklós Villamos (English: Articulated Tram for Public Road or Modernized Articulated Tram)
- ČKD Tatra T5C5: Made in Czechoslovakia from 1978 to 1984, 14.7 meters (48.23 ft) long, high-floor trams . They either run in pairs or triples depending on demand. They are comfortable but their wider superstructure limits the lines they can serve. Some were rebuilt with better electronics in the early 2000s.
- CKD T5C5K: CKD T5C5K is an upgraded version of the T5C5, with dot-matrix displays for informing passengers.
In service on lines 18, 59, 59A and 61.
- Düwag TW 6000: Manufactured in West Germany between 1972 and 1973, very high floor trams, purchased in 2002 refurbished from the city of Hannover. These 28 meters (91.9 ft) vehicles only run as singles and are noted for their extremely quiet run (which did cause some minor accidents initially). Originally designed to serve as light-rail trains, the TW6000 vehicles have a variable door-well feature, which could serve tram stops in a step-free entry configuration. This feature is much appreciated by pregnant mothers and the elderly, but so far no money has been found to build the elevated platforms required to support it.
- Siemens Combino Supra: Redesigned (constructed of steel instead of the originally proposed aluminium) version of the previously controversial Combino, made in 2005-2007 in Austria, fully ultra low floor trams of a special, 54 meters (177.2 ft) long, six module design (intended only for Budapest). With six modules, as of 2008, they are the longest passenger trams of the world. Currently servicing lines 4 and 6.
- UV, (Series "U", remote controlled "távVezérelt"): built domestically during 1956-1965, based on pre-WWII designs and without heating. These cars were quite popular among tram enthusiasts of the world. When BKV celebrated its 50 years of service, an elaborate "UV Day" parade was one of the items. They usually ran in pairs, or pairs sandwiching a trailer (some of which were built in 1939). These cars were narrower than many of the later types, so that they fit the whole network including some tunnels. Despite this, they were withdrawn as of 2008, as spare parts were no longer available.
- Cogwheel Railway: 1970s era red carriages built by SGP of Austria are currently in service, but civil organizations are pushing for their replacement as well as the reconstruction of the entire track, which is unlikely to happen in near future, because of the cost.
- HÉV: East German built 60-70-80s era MX, MXa and MIXa vehicles, painted green, serve all the lines. They are comfortable but noisy and relatively slow, sometimes owing to track conditions. Because of highly flammable interior materials and poor braking effectiveness, the fate of the fleet is in limbo with the rail safety authority.
- MFAV: Domestically built double-articulated carriages from 1973 run on this line. Loosely based on the above mentioned ICS tram technology, they feature three small carriages per set, in a fully low floor configuration. Likely to be replaced in the near future, MFAV vehicles are noted for high maintenance requirements, dictated by the cramped engine nacelles (needed to fit the tiny 100-year-old tunnel).
- Underground: Until 2013, both M2 and M3 lines were served by 5- or 6-carriage trains of Soviet origin. These Mitisin Factory-built metro vehicles are noisy, consume too much electricity and show a lot of wear after 25+ years of service. Nine trains were refurbished from 2000 to 2003 but this did not significantly improve passenger comfort. BKV bought 37 Alstom Metropolis for the M2 and M4 lines. There were some problems about the delivery, and at March 2010, BKV CEO István Kocsis declared that BKV may cancel the contract with Alstom because of so many delays and problems (at M2 the new carriages should have been serving since February 2009, but they weren't yet). All soviet trains older than 30 years old (in total 43 carriages) were withdrawn from service after a serious fire broke out on line M3 which had no fatalities, but the first two carriages of the train were destroyed. (A peculiarity is that most of the withdrawn carriages were of a different type than the destroyed train, and a large quantity of them were already refurbished.) The Alstom Metropolis trains soon got the go ahead and testings began in the summer of 2012. The first train entered service on September 7 on line M2. All of the old Soviet-built metro trains on line M2 were taken out of service on April 30, 2013. Some of these were transferred to line M3 to increase capacity, but most were scrapped. The Soviet-built trains on line M3 will be withdrawn sometime around 2016.
- Massive yellow-blue trucks and orange-painted lorries are used by BKV to repair overhead wires. They are equipped with blue rotating lights and sirens and are thus authorized to ignore road traffic regulations when dealing with an emergency.
- Orange minivans and white Renault trucks are used to repair buses on site, these only have orange warning lights.
Livery and colors
BKV paints its vehicles different colors by type.
- Trams: yellow
- HÉV vehicles: green
- Trolleybuses: red
- Buses: blue
The five metro lines are marked on the map in different colours:
- M1: yellow
- M2: red
- M3: blue
- M4 (under construction): green
- M5 (planned): purple
The current livery of the M2 is white-black, and M3 trains is blue (lighter shade than on buses), on M1 vehicles are painted yellow.
In pop culture
A surrealistic thriller titled Kontroll was filmed in the M2 and M3 metro tunnels during 2002-2003. The movie has won several awards and has developed a cult following. The ironic beginning of the movie features Botond Aba, former CEO of BKV, who declares that all events and locations shown in the film are purely fictional.
- VEKE : Negyven éves a BKV (Hungarian)
- BKK.hu (English)
- BKV.hu (English)
- "Another corruption scandal at the BKV: The police have also arrested the directors of the law departments of both BKV and Budapest Airport on the charges of bribery, fraud and misappropriation committed in conspiracy". World Economy. 2009-12-05.
- "30 more contracts will the director-general report to the police this week.". World Economy. 2010-02-08.
- History and facts on villamosok.hu
- History and facts on villamosok.hu (Hungarian)
- History and facts on villamosok.hu (Hungarian)
- History and facts on villamosok.hu
- History and facts on villamosok.hu (Hungarian)
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