Transport in Bucharest

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Bucharest has the largest transport network in Romania, and one of the largest in Europe. The Bucharest transport network is made up of a metro network and a surface transport network. Although there are multiple connection points, the two systems operate independently of each other, are run by different organisations (the metro is run by Metrorex and the surface transport network by RATB) and use separate ticketing systems.

Bombardier metro train at Pipera Station

Bucharest Metro[edit]

Main article: Bucharest Metro

Bucharest has a fairly extensive subway system consisting of four lines (M1, M2, M3 and M4) run by Metrorex. In total, the network is 69.2 km (43.0 mi) long and has 48 stations,[1] with 1.4 km (0.9 mi) average distance between stops. It is one of the fastest ways to get around the city.

Long line of RATB trams

Surface transport[edit]

Surface transport in Bucharest is run by Regia Autonomă de Transport Bucureşti (RATB) and consists of an extensive network of buses, trolleybuses, trams and light rail (called metrou uşor which translates as light metro, but it is, in fact, a light rail system). The RATB network is one of the most dense in Europe, and the fourth largest on the continent, carrying about 1.7 million passengers daily on 121 bus lines, 21 tram lines, 3 light rail lines and 17 trolleybus lines. At times, however, it does suffer from severe crowding.

RATB is a reasonably efficient and a very frequently-used way of getting around Bucharest. As with the Metro, the system is going under a period of renewal. Highlights of the renewal include the introduction of a new light rail service, aside from trams, as well as wheelchair-accessible buses and trolleybuses.


With a total route length of 1,374 km (854 mi),[2] the RATB bus network is the most dense out of all the transport types in Bucharest. In fact, RATB's advertisements state that one can never be more than five minutes walking distance from a bus stop. There are 121 bus lines, most of which operate in the Municipality of Bucharest. However, there are also a few bus lines which provide services to the towns and villages which border Bucharest, in Ilfov county, and whose populations usually commute to Bucharest for work. In mid-2005, the lines that linked the city to the peripheral area were licensed out to independent transportation providers, but in early 2006, they were placed once again under the control of RATB due to a wide range customer complaints about the private operators.


RATB's bus fleet is made up of 1014 vehicles (in 2012), of which around 99% are wheelchair-accessible (low floor) and around 55% are air-conditioned.[3] Between 2005 and 2009, the fleet underwent its most substantial process of renewal since 1989, and is now among the most modern in Europe. In December 2005, RATB signed a contract for 500 Mercedes Citaro low-floor, wheelchair-accessible buses. The buses were delivered between June 2006 and April 2007. In January 2008, the first of a further series of 500 Citaro low-floor buses were put into service. These buses are the first air-conditioned vehicles in RATB's fleet.

The fleet makeup, as of 2013, is as following:

Low floor Mercedes Citaro buses are the main type of bus used in Bucharest(about 99%), running on almost all the routes. The prototype models, such as HESS, DAF Berkhof don't run anymore in Bucharest,but Rocar Autodromo is still in use. Older models were retired completely from circulation (Rocar de Simon U412), but there are a few buses DAF SB220 used for regional/rural routes in Ilfov County (preorășenești) and for line 162.


Trolleybuses supplement buses on the RATB system network, which operates 19 trolleybus lines (mainly on high-usage routes), measuring 164.1 km (102.0 mi) of routes[2] on 73.2 km (45.5 mi) network.[4] During the 1990s, the fleet was updated with modern trolleybuses manufactured by Ikarus, in light blue and yellow livery, which have acoustic station announcements and digital display screens. These trolleybuses now make up the majority of the fleet. In early 2007, 100 wheelchair-accessible Irisbus Citelis trolleybuses were introduced on routes 61, 62, 69, 70, 86, 90, 91 and 92.

Two distinct, non-interconnected networks exist in Bucharest, the main network (comprising the two main East-West lines as well as a spur in the Northern part of town) and a relatively small Southern network in Berceni. Each of the two networks have their own, separate trolleybus depots (including separate fleets) and are not connected in any way. The trolleybus network is currently being overhauled or expanded - a goal is to eventually unite the two networks. With this goal in mind, in 2008, a new segment of overhead wire was opened between Piața Unirii - Calea Vitan - Piața Sudului, which is to be expanded in the future to Piața Rosetti, thus bridging the existing gap.


Trams and light rail[edit]

RATB operates a complex system of trams measuring 332.2 km (206.4 mi) of routes[2] on 145 km (90 mi) tram network throughout Bucharest.[4] Beside 21 tram lines, there are currently three converted light rail lines (so called metrou uşor which translates as light metro), numbered 32, 35 and 41, all of which run in the western part of Bucharest. Light rail use upgraded trams and also run on separate designated corridors for faster travel times. Most of the tramway infrastructure in Bucharest has either been overhauled or completely upgraded in the last 5 years, or is currently being overhauled. The light rail service is expected to be expanded by upgrading existing tram lines to light rail status.

Most tramways operated by RATB (all V3A, Bucur 1 and Bucur LF models) are manufactured internally by RATB at their subsidiary URAC Bucharest (the same subsidiary also handles tramway repairs and is in charge with scrapping vehicles reaching the end of their useful service life). Currently, URAC produces three models for RATB - two three-segment, partially low-floor, wheelchair accessible models (V3A-CH-PPC derived from the earlier V3A-93 model and the all-new Bucur-LF model) as well as a two-segments, non-wheelchair accessible model (Bucur 1), derived from the older Tatra tramways.

Route 41 is currently the only route that is wheelchair accessible, using new V3A-CH-PPC tramways. Other routes will become wheelchair accessible as soon as more V3A-CH-PPC or Bucur-LF vehicles are constructed (URAC's building capacity is quite limited in that respect).

The maximum speed of the trams within Bucharest, lies at 60 km/h


Private cars[edit]

At the end of 2008, in Bucharest there were 1.24 million vehicles, of which 985.000 were private cars. In 2007 there were 150.000 fewer vehicles, which means the number of vehicles increased by 13.76% in one year.[5]

With so many cars and a very high population density (50% higher than Tokyo and 4 times bigger than Rome for example), parking is a problem in Bucharest.

CFR Trains[edit]

Bucharest is served by a commuter railway network operated by CFR, the Romanian national railways. Although commuter trains no longer serve national routes, commuter train services are not so good. As an alternative, at each city exit there are private bus stations to get travelers to the towns in villages nearby. As a rule, this buses are found at the exit closest to their serviced area. The commuter trains run either from the main station, Gara de Nord or from 6 minor stations (Gara Basarab, Gara Obor, Gara Chitila, Gara Progresu, Gara Titan and Gara Pantelimon). Their main purpose is not regular travelling, instead they were meant to service major factories and industrial platforms with workers, and generally run early in the morning and in the afternoon. Commuter trains currently run to Olteniţa, Giurgiu, Urziceni, Lehliu Gară and Titu. There are also weekend tourist trains from Bucharest to Snagov, starting either at Gara de Nord or Gara Băneasa.

There are no urban trains (similar to RER lines in Paris) in Bucharest, even though a commuter ring railway in currently in construction around Bucharest, to supplement the Bucharest Metro.

Road network[edit]

Magheru Boulevard at night

The city's municipal road network is centred on a series of high-capacity boulevards (6 to 10 lanes), which generally radiate out from the city centre to the outskirts and are arranged in geographical axes (principally north-south, east-west and northwest-southeast). The principal and thus most congested boulevards are Calea Victoriei, Bulevardul Unirii and Mihai Bravu Boulevard, which is the longest in Bucharest and forms a sort of semicircle around the northeastern part of the old district. The city also has two ring roads, one internal (Mihai Bravu is part of it) and one external, which are mainly used for cars that bypass the city as well as trucks, which aren't allowed in the city centre. Aside from the main roads, the city also has a number of secondary roads, which connect the main boulevards. In the historical city centre, particularly the Lipscani area, many streets are cobbled and are classified as pedestrian zones.

The city's roads are usually very crowded during rush hours, due to an increase in car ownership in recent years. Every day, there are more than one million vehicles travelling within the city limits.[6] This has resulted in wearing of the upper layer of tarmac on many of roads in Bucharest, particularly secondary roads which are now used in an equal amount, this being identified as one of Bucharest's main infrastructural problems. The pothole problem is notorious enough to have inspired a song by the band Taxi with a chorus "Cratere ca-n Bucureşti, nici pe luna nu gaseşti!" ("Craters like in Bucharest you won't even find on the moon").[7] However, in recent years, there has been a comprehensive effort on behalf of the City Hall to boost improvement of road infrastructure, mainly by resurfacing and widening roads, and repairing footpaths. According to the City Hall's development plan, nearly 2,000 roads were expected to be repaired by 2008.[8]

Bucharest is one of the principal junctions of Romania's national road network, which links the city to all of Romania's major cities as well as to neighbouring countries such as Hungary, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Romania's two motorways currently in operation, the A1 and the A2 which links the capital with the country's ports and seaside resorts on the Black Sea.


Bucharest has two international airports:

  • Henri Coandă International Airport, located north of the Bucharest metropolitan area, in the town of Otopeni, Ilfov. Currently the airport has one terminal divided into three inter-connected buildings (International Departures Hall, International Arrivals Hall and the Domestic Flights Hall - at the ground level of the Arrivals Hall - ). The International Departures Hall consists of 36 check-in desks, one finger with 10 gates (5 equipped with jetways), while the Domestic Hall has an extra four gates. Today's International Arrivals Hall is actually the old Otopeni terminal, while the new Departures Hall, including the finger and the airbridges was built and inaugurated in 1997. A second finger with 7 jetways is under construction and a new building terminal on the east side is in project phase. The airport received 5,064,230 passengers in 2008, however traffic growth has dampened due to economic slowdown.
  • Aurel Vlaicu International Airport is situated only 8 km north of the Bucharest city center and is accessible by RATB buses 131, 335 and Airport Express 780 and 783, RATB tramway 5 and taxi. An extension of Line M2 of the Bucharest Metro to Aurel Vlaicu International, which will link it to the Main Train Station and the larger Henri Coandă International Airport, was approved in June 2006 and is currently in its planning stage.

Sea transport[edit]

Although it is situated on the banks of a river, Bucharest has never functioned as a port city, with other Romanian cities such as Constanţa and Brăila acting as the country's main ports. However, the Danube-Bucharest Canal, which is 73 km long, is currently under construction and is around 60% completed. When finished, the canal will link Bucharest to the Danube River and, via the Danube-Black Sea Canal, to the Black Sea. This transport corridor is expected to be a significant component of the city's transport infrastructure and increase sea traffic by a large margin.


  1. ^ Bucharest Metro at
  2. ^ a b c Statistics-Length of public transport network
  3. ^ Parc autobuze RATB (RATB bus fleet), BucureştiTransport, fan site by Dr2005 (Romanian)
  4. ^ a b Trams and trolleybuses system networks in Romanian cities
  5. ^ Hot News Parcul Auto din Romania a trecut de cinci milioane vehicule. Un sfert din ele sunt in Bucuresti.
  6. ^ Governing programme of Adriean Videanu, General Mayor of Bucharest
  7. ^ Simona Tudorache, Taxi a iesit cu Politica in strada, Curierul Naţional, 23 October 2004.
  8. ^ Rehabilitation of Urban Roads, Phase II, from the site of the General Mayor of Bucharest, Adriean Videanu

External links[edit]