Transport in Bucharest

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 Societatea de Transport București. The two companies used separate ticketing systems until 2017, when a new smartcard was introduced alongside the old tickets, which allows travel on both the STB and the Underground.

Bombardier metro train at Pipera Station

Bucharest MetroEdit

Bucharest has a fairly extensive metro system consisting of five lines (M1, M2, M3, M4, and M5) run by Metrorex. In total, the network is 78 km (48.5 mi) long and has 63 stations,[1] with 1.5 km (0.9 mi) average distance between stops. It is one of the fastest ways to get around the city.

Long line of STB trams

Surface transportEdit

Surface transport in Bucharest is run by Societatea de Transport București (STB) and consists of an extensive network of buses, trolleybuses, trams and light rail. The STB network is one of the most dense in Europe, and the fourth largest on the continent, carrying about 1.7 million passengers daily on 85 bus lines, 23 tram lines, 2 light rail lines and 15 trolleybus lines. At times, however, it does suffer from severe overcrowding.

STB 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. Some new features are the upgrade of tram/trolleybus infrastructure and the replacement of old rolling stock.

Network map of public transport in Bucharest region


With a total route length of 1,374 km (854 mi),[2] the STB bus network is the most dense out of all the transport types in Bucharest. There are 85 bus lines (plus 25 night routes), most of which operate in the Municipality of Bucharest. However, there are also 27 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 STB due to a wide range customer complaints about the private operators. Sometime in 2010, all the STB lines of the peripheral network were removed, leading to an increase in minivans owned by private transport companies, and so far only a few of these lines have been put back.


STB's bus fleet is made up of 1,143 vehicles (2018), which are all wheelchair-accessible (low floor) and around 55% are air-conditioned.[3] The fleet utilisation rate during workdays stood at 78.1% in 2018.[4]

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, STB 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.

The fleet makeup, as of 2019, is as following, years of delivery marked in brackets:

As of 2020, 130 hybrid Mercedes Citaro vehicles have entered service.

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, and Rocar Autodromo are not used anymore. 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), however retired as of 1 December 2012.

The former fleet comprised


Trolleybuses supplement buses on the STB system network, which operates 15 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.[5] 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, in 1987 being separated after the opening of M2 metro line. The trolleybus network is currently[when?] being overhauled or expanded — a goal is to eventually unite the two networks.


In 2018, the STB had a fleet of 265 trolleybuses spread across 3 depots and 1 mixed tram-trolleybus depot. Most of them were Astra-Ikarus 415T (163 trolleybuses). The fleet utilisation rate during workdays stood at 61.8% in 2018.[4]

Trams and light railEdit

STB operates a complex system of trams measuring 332.2 km (206.4 mi) of routes[2] on 143.9 km (89.4 mi) tram network throughout Bucharest.[5] Beside 23 tram lines, there are currently two converted light rail lines (so called metrou uşor which translates as "light metro"), numbered 41 and 32, which run in the western and south-western parts of Bucharest. Both lines use upgraded trams and also run on separate designated corridors for faster travel times.

67% of the city's tram infrastructure had been modernised by 2018.[6] The light rail service is expected to be expanded by upgrading existing tram lines to light rail status.

Most trams operated by STB (all V3A, Bucur 1 and Bucur LF models) are manufactured internally by STB 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 STB - two three-section, partially low-floor, wheelchair-accessible models (V3A-CH-PPC/CA-PPC derived from the earlier V3A-93 model and the all-new Bucur-LF model) as well as a two-section, non-wheelchair-accessible model (Bucur 1), made from scrapped Tatra axles with new equipment. It is uncertain if their production will continue, because as of now their production has been halted for the past 7 years.[when?]

Routes 1, 3, 10, 19, 21, 23, 32, 41 and 45 are wheelchair-accessible, using new V3A-93-M2000-PPC, V3A-CH-PPC and Bucur LF trams. Other routes will become wheelchair-accessible as soon as more V3A-CH-PPC or Bucur-LF vehicles are constructed (URAC's building capacity is limited).

The maximum speed of the trams within Bucharest lies at 60 kilometres per hour (37 mph).


In 2018, the STB had a fleet of 486 trams, most of which were the V3A-M type (323 trams). The fleet is spread across 7 tram depots and 1 mixed tram-trolleybus depot. The fleet utilisation rate during workdays stood at 55.6% in 2018.[4]


Surface transportation, operated by STB uses a different ticketing system from the metro network, operated by Metrorex, a separate entity. Their tickets and prices can be found on their website, available in English as well.

They include subscriptions, rechargeable cards as well as single use cards. Tickets can also be bought through SMS by sending a message to 7458, with the message U (for urban lines, any tram and trolleybus line, all bus lines except for lines starting with the letter 'R' or lines with numbers in the 400's and 700's) and the number of the line. This works for most network providers and charges 0.3 EUR + VAT (0.05 EUR). This is valid for an hour and can only be used on the line selected. Multiple texts can be sent at the same time for more than one person. For regional lines starting with the letter "R" and with numbers in the 400's, send the letter "R" followed by the line number, 0.6 EUR will be charged. For express lines, (line number in the 700's) send the letter "E" followed by the line number, 0.9 EUR will be charged.

This method of payment is also available through the app, InfoTB. The app can also plan routes using all types of transportation in the city, and show the GPS location of vehicles. Approximately 85% of vehicles are equipped with a GPS positioning system.

A separate app, BPay, can also be used to pay for fares, using an online account and credit card information.

An online account can also be created on the website, that allows clients to add credit to their tickets.

BCR (Romanian Commercial Bank) ATMs also allow clients to recharge their physical cards with money.

Metrorex and STB have an integrated ticket, available for 5 RON, that allows passengers to use any metro and surface transportation line for 60 minutes. This is a single use ticket, that can only be used by one person.

Other than that, the metro network has a separate ticketing system, explained on their website in English,

The zones have no impact on the price of a journey.

Passengers can also simply tap their contactless credit cards directly on the turnstiles, charging 2.5 RON for every tap, the price of one journey. For multiple validations, press the + button on the turnstile and tap again. This is currently available in 49 of the 52 stations. A blue background with a blurb in both Romanian and English is printed on the turnstiles, indicating that this method of payment is available.

The normal tickets are magnetic and can be damaged by exposure to other electromagnetic fields.

Private carsEdit

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.[7]

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 TrainsEdit

In 2011, Bucharest had 99 km of railway lines, 79 of which were electric.[8]

Bucharest has several train stations throughout and around the city, the main one being Gara de Nord where trains depart to all destinations. Other main stations include Baneasa, Obor and Basarab.

Gara de Nord is a relatively modern station. It was opened in 1872 and has undergone modernization and refurbishment several times. From here, trains leave to every destination in Romania and to other European cities. The other stations only see around five trains a day and are not considered "important" stations by CFR.

Bucharest was once home to a vast system of industrial railways that sprawled all over the city, linking factories to the surrounding neighbourhoods and towns. However most of these are now[when?] gone and what remains has fallen into disrepair. Therefore, Bucharest didn't have an RER/S-Bahn type of commuter network until 2019 when CFR introduced commuter trains between the city and Buftea.[9] Attempts have been made in the past to introduce such a system, but so far not much has been achieved. It is true that there are trains operated by CFR from Bucharest to neighbouring towns, however due to long journey times and poorly maintained rolling stock most people tend to use personal cars to get into the city.

Road networkEdit

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 Șoseaua Mihai Bravu, 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.[10] 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").[11] However, in recent years,[when?] 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. Faulty urban planning will likely lead to an increase in traffic and parking problems, since new housing areas are built with houses and apartment buildings literally squeezed into existing small grid roads, a problem commonly identified in the "suburbs" of the city.

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 three motorways currently in operation, the A1, the A2 which links the capital with the country's ports and seaside resorts on the Black Sea and the A3.


Bucharest has one international airport:

  • 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 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 8,317,168 passengers in 2015. It is accessible by STB buses 780, 782, 783 and 784 and the future M6 underground line, which will link the airport with the main train station of Bucharest.

Until 2012 there was also another airport which is no longer used, except for charter/private flights:

Water transportEdit

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, was under construction until 1990 and is not being worked on as of 2015. When eventually 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. ^ "METROREX". Retrieved 2015-07-21. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c Statistics-Length of public transport network
  3. ^ Parc autobuze RATB Archived 2011-11-07 at the Wayback Machine (RATB bus fleet), BucureştiTransport, fan site by Dr2005 (in Romanian)
  4. ^ a b c Raport de Activitate 2018, Societatea de Transport Bucuresti
  5. ^ a b Trams and trolleybuses system networks in Romanian cities
  6. ^ "Raport de Activitate 2018, Societatea de Transport Bucuresti" (PDF).
  7. ^ Hot News Parcul Auto din Romania a trecut de cinci milioane vehicule. Un sfert din ele sunt in Bucuresti.
  8. ^ Planul de Dezvoltare Regionala a Regiunii Bucuresti-Ilfov 2014-2020, Iulie 2015, pg.70
  9. ^ CFR Călători a introdus trenuri suburbane București-Buftea. În total, sunt 26 de perechi pe zi
  10. ^ Governing programme of Adriean Videanu, General Mayor of Bucharest
  11. ^ Simona Tudorache, Taxi a iesit cu Politica in strada, Curierul Naţional, 23 October 2004.

External linksEdit