Bucharest Transportation Tips by Romanian_Bat Top 5 Page for this destination
Bucharest Transportation: 120 reviews and 138 photos
Train departing Izvor Station
A few years ago, as the original trains were getting old, there were signs of improvement when the company running them, Metrorex, decided to buy new Bombardier trains (made in Sweden and put together in Craiova). However, first of all they never adapted these trains to the climate in Bucharest (with much warmer summers than in Sweden), with an insufficient A/C capacity in trains during the peak hour in summer. But these issues are not important; every new train features 2 (two) bodyguards, occupying space (sitting, chatting) and supposedly 'defending public order', as the official saying goes; well, actually the IDs the guards bear mentions "paza tren" (En. train security). Oh dear.
Given an ever increasing demand and an ever higher traffic, Metrorex decided to... reduce the official (i.e. different from the real one) waiting time between trains from 5 minutes to 7 (yes, this is what they understood by "reduce") during the peak hours (especially 7 to 10 AM and 5 to 8 PM on week days). A ride on the subway train in Bucharest during the peak hour has turned into a lucky (or rather unlucky) bet, as, for instance, you might very well get stuck at Piata Victoriei 2 for 10-15 minutes, as the train is that full that doors cannot close and it cannot therefore depart, while the driver keeps on asking passengers to "allow the doors to close, as there is another train arriving in 3 minutes" (they like very much this "3 minutes" issue). Facing these problems, Metrorex turns a blind eye or typically looks elsewhere.
It is also funny to see the Metrorex mechanics that, not knowing how to simply switch one engine off and the other one on at line ends (in the case of the new Bombardier trains), simply turn the whole train off and then have it restarted. To witness this, one can go, for instance, at Dristor 2.
One of the old trains, Dristor 2 Metro Station
First opened to public in 1979, the Bucharest subway is a convenient means of transportation sometimes (i.e. not during the half a day rush hour), with its 45 stations. Stations are rather poorly marked on surface (with letter "M" usually placed on a metal pole). Access is granted based on cards (for 2 or 10 rides, as well as for 1 day or 1 month). Changing trains or commuting between lines does not require paying again except for Gara de Nord 1 and 2 (which can be avoided by commuting at Basarab). The system works from 5 AM to 11.30 PM (which means that the first train starts at its end at 5.00 AM, and that the last train departs Piata Unirii 1 and 2 at 11.30 PM); they have promised lately to keep trains running until 00:30 on Friday and Saturday. Trains (should) run approximatively every 7-10 minutes at daytime during the weekdays, respectively every 10-15 minutes after 8.00 PM and during the weekends. Do not rely on the last train, as you might have a surprise, when they decide that the train stops for the night at Crangasi, without any sort of explanation. Hoping for a system that runs around the clock? You must be day dreaming.
Built under the former communist regime, master of the super-planned economy, the lines do not cover the city well; whole districts like Drumul Taberei, Pantelimon or Ferentari are not served by it. Oh yes, they are expanding the network. But do not hold your breath: people have got used to the never ending works along 1 Mai - Laromet or Nicolae Grigorescu - Soseaua de Centura lines, surface traffic is strangled because of these works and, you've got it right, they hardly move a truck from here there on a spring day featuring good weather (for in summer it is too hot, in winter too cold, and in autumn it rains). The long debated line supposed to make the junction with Bucharest Otopeni Airport (still a project) will probably be open when nobody remembers when and what trains were used for; for the moment, the Metrorex is arguing with the City Hall, because the latter wants to build the line facing Metrorex's dolce far' niente.
Car parked on cycling lane, Calea Victoriei
If you come to Bucharest by bike, you might have got some practical advice on the way, in form of direct life experience. However - as someone cycling through this city, either to the office or just for fun every now and then - I am listing here some of my experience.
After the City Hall came with the great idea of forbidding cycling through the city, a cyclists' meeting, joined by protests and - a key factor - a notification coming from Brussels, things went back to "normal". "Normal" stands for the following in Bucharest (and generally in Romania for that matter), when one rides a bicycle:
- Drivers will never respect you, you do not exist for them, or, in the best scenario, you are bothering them
- They will next to never give you the way, unless they are afraid you will scratch their shiny car when they hit you
- Riding the bicycle aggressively (just like their driving) is not a solution, as this is very dangerous in a city where respect is the last thing anyone thinks of
- Yes, finally, they have assigned cycling lanes across the city; these ones generally go along the sidewalk, but do not expect anyone to step aside; pedestrians are not used to them
- If there is a cycling lane and there are no pedestrians, there can be various other obstacles: cars parked on the cycling lane, fences, trees and even the odd dog (see below for obstacles)
- Dogs can be a problem when cycling, as there are still many of them; better slow down when you see one and try not to scare him; generally speaking they are not aggressive unless scared or stirred
- Many guards at various office buildings and institutions won't like your parking / chaining the bike in front of "their" institution; avoid ruining your day and wasting time with Mr. No Brains by chaining the bike in a place where it does not bother their sight
- You've guessed it right, there are almost no institutions at all with a bike stand
Taxi in front of Bucuresti Nord Station
A few pieces of advice regarding taxis in Bucharest:
- They all should have an oval license on their door, issued by the City Hall
- The price per kilometer should be written on the front door, as well as the price for starting (Ro. pornire)
- They should start the meter immediately when they start, or as soon as you get in the car (whichever happens first)
- In the end they have to give you a receipt indicating the total amount you have to pay
- When you go to the airport (especially to Bucharest Henri Coanda OTP, which is way out of the city), some of them (not TaxiFly, the cars of which are allowed to park there) will ask for "return money"; this happens because of the fact that TaxiFly is the only company allowed to have cars waiting in front of Bucharest OTP Airport; the others have to wait in the parking lot (far from the place where people come out of the terminal) or to simply leave the airport without customers. So this is up to you, and you should settle this with the driver before starting, whether you pay something extra, and if so, how much (10-15 RON should be a maximal amount, if ever).
- In Bucharest there is no "FIFO" rule for taxis. So, if there are 5 cars in a line in front of your hotel, choose the one you prefer, according to the company you want to use the services of, or simply to the driver you sympathize with.
- Tipping is customary, but not compulsory. If you appreciate the service, a 10% tip is enough.
- Have money ready in small bills, to avoid the driver's pretending he does not have change or running across the city to find ATMs and shop attendants to change your big bills.
- According to the law, the driver should not smoke in the car or play manele (turbofolk) when driving with customers. This is not always enforced, but you should know about it.
Taxis waiting in front of Bucuresti Nord Station 1
There are three kinds of taxis in Bucharest:
- Taxis belonging to reputable companies, that charge an average fare per kilometer and use smaller Dacia or, more and more often, Skoda and Renault cars. The companies I would list here are Leone, Cobalcescu, Meridian, CrisTaxi, Rodell, Apolodor, Taxi 2000, Mondial. They will charge about RON 1.40 - 1.90 / km. plus the starting, which is RON 1.00-2.00.
- Taxis belonging to expensive companies, that charge more, have bigger / better cars or simply have the same type of cars with the ones above, but charge more. I would list here Taxi Grand and Fly Taxi. They charge up to RON 3.00 / km., depending to the time of the day / night when you go.
- Taxis that will cheat you. As simple as that, and the ways they will attempt to do so are various. Some of them imitate the logos of reputable companies. Others will write 7.50 RON / km. on their door, with the "7" so narrow that it looks like a 1. Others will simply do something to the meter, so that it indicates more than it should. They will come to you at Bucuresti Nord railway station, saying the subway no longer runs, that they want to go home anyway and will give you a big discount (I have heard this so often that I wonder who it works with), that they know a shortcut, there is no other taxi and they are your last chance on earth. Avoid them. Not being careful here can end with paying even 100 lei for a ride, and the stupid part of is that in some cases this might be legal (if they are licensed to charge RON 7.50 / km. and Buddha knows how much for starting).
A Tarom airplane
Bucharest has two airports. The oldest and closest to the city, Baneasa Airport (tel.: 9371), serves low cost companies (serving flights to Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the UK, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria - of which BlueAir is the biggest one, BBU based), charters going to Turkey and Greece, as well as CarpatAir (domestic flights with a connection to many European cities through TSR). Built in 1971, Otopeni Airport (tel.: (021)2041000), located 10 km. further on the road to Ploiesti, still serves most of the flights. Tarom is the Romanian national airline carrier. Both Baneasa and Otopeni airports are served by bus #783 (that runs every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends, it works with 2 rides cards bought from the aluminium RATB kiosks; it goes on the following route: Otopeni – Baneasa – the Arch of Triumph – Victory Square - Romana Square – University Square – Unirea Square), while Baneasa is also served by regular city buses (that work on regular tickets bought from the same kiosks), # 131 and 301 from Romana Square. The bus station in Otopeni Airport lies as you exit the domestic arrivals terminal to the right (from the international arrivals terminal, take the elevator or the mechanical stairs down to the ground level). In front of the international arrivals terminal there are only taxis belonging to TaxiFly which are allowed to wait there. They charge almost 3 times more than a regular taxi (ROL 20.000 / km. compared to ROL 7.000-8.000 / km.), buy regular taxis are only allowed to wait down on the ground level of teh parking lot. Look for reputable companies such as CrisTaxi, Cobalcescu, Meridian, Getax, Leone, Rodell, Dixie, Apolodor, they usually lie down the parking lot from the arrivals terminal in Otopeni and across the street from Baneasa Airport. A ride from Otopeni to the centre should never go over the equivalent of EUR 8-9.
RATB Bus on Lascar Catargiu Avenue in winter
Except for a few lines (e.g. #41), trams are still slow. Buses and trolleys come and go pretty often but are also very crowded. It is also recommendable to watch out your stuff on buses and other means of public transportation. All buses, trolleys and trams, as well as the preorasenesc (buses going to villages and towns in the vicinity of Bucharest) pack of buses are owned and run by the RATB, Bucharest’s government owned public transportation company. All of them work with stripe-like tickets (2 rides only, the equivalent of EUR 0.5 EUR for a 2 rides ticket, with the sole exception of the preorasenesc buses that require special tickets, more expensive). Express buses (such as bus # 783 running between Otopeni Airport and the southern section of Unirea Square) require 2 or 10 rides magnetic cards looking similarly with the metro ones; these must be validated too when boarding the bus, through the green machines to the right of the driver. Tickets can only be bought from the RATB aluminium kiosks that are open 06.00-20.00 and they must be stapled once on the bus. There are more and more private companies running minivans coming and going everywhere but they are generally more expensive (EUR 0.3 for a ride) and crowded, with routes changing every now and then. Taxis are cheap (around EUR 0.2 / km.), provided you look around for one belonging to reputable companies such as Cobalcescu, Cocosatu’, Rodell, Leone (tel.: 9425), Meridian (tel.: 9444, 9888), CrisTaxi (tel.: 9461,9466), Getax (tel.: 9530), Prof Taxi (tel.: 9422), Perozzi (tel.: 9631), XXL, Euro Dixie (tel.: 9429), Total (9424).
Bucuresti Nord Railway Station - Terminal A
Bucharest’s main railway station, Bucuresti Nord (Bucharest North), is splat in two sections:
- Bucuresti Nord Gara A (used, on the CFR website as Bucuresti Nord Gr. A), where all fast trains arrive and depart, as well as all international trains to / from Bucharest
- Bucuresti Nord Gara B also known as Bucuresti Nord Gara Basarab (marked by CFR as Bucuresti Nord Gr. B), where some local trains to / from Southern Romania arrive / depart.
Bucuresti Nord Gara A lies on 2 Gara de Nord Square (tel.: (021)2230880, extension 1341, 1342), having its own metro station (entrance from the very station or just outside the ticket office hall). The ticket offices lie right in the station when getting out of the metro (“Casele de bilete”), while the sleeping berths or international tickets can be purchased in the other hall, just a little further from the previous ones (look for Pamir Bar on the street side of the station). Concerning international tickets, I recommend Wasteels office, as they are far more helpful and sometimes have discounted tickets for people under 26 years old. All offices in stations sell same day tickets. For bookings, you can refer to Wasteels or to a CFR agency in the city, of which I shall list two:
Agentia CFR Nr. 2, 139 Calea Grivitei (just a little further down the Calea Grivitei from the Bucuresti Nord Gr. A station, passed Hotel Ibis, on the right side), tel.: (021)2128947.
Agentia CFR Nr. 1, 10 Brezoianu (walk down the Elisabeta from the crossing with Victory Avenue, then turn left before the Mc Donald’s and walk on the left side until finding it), tel.: (021)3132643 for domestic information, (021)3145528 for international routes, (021)3139021 for sleeping wagons. In both agencies, when entering get an order ticket and wait for your number to be called and displayed. "Bilete toate directiile" stands for all domestic tickets, while "trafic international" stands for international tickets. "Informatii" stands for waiting in vain, so even for information it is better to get a regular order ticket.
Other Contact: www.cfr.ro
Bucharest does not have only one bus station, as there used to be six bus stations which were originally conceived by destination, so that buses do not have to cross all city to go from A to B. So the communists had a glorious idea, making us cross the whole city. Oh, my Stalin! Nowadays, the main bus stations are the following:
Bucuresti Filaret (1 Gara Filaret Square, tel.: (021)3360692, www.acfilaret.ro) gathers buses going to Chisinau and other towns in Moldova, Thessalonica and Athens in Greece and generally to Moldavia and Eastern Romania.
Bucuresti Rahova (164 Alexandriei, tel.: (021)4204795) serves buses going to Alexandria and towns south-east from Bucharest. It is reachable by tram # 32 from the south-western corner of Unirea Square.
Bucuresti Grivita (221-223 Chitilei, tel.: (021)6675970) has buses running to Chitila, Buftea, Targoviste. It is reachable by tram # 45 from Bucuresti Nord Station.
Bucuresti Militari (141 Iuliu Maniu, tel.: (021)2208440) serves buses going to Pitesti, Ramnicu Valcea, Sibiu, Olanesti Spa, Potlogi Village, as well as other destinations in Northern Wallachia.
C&I Bus Terminal (35 Ritmului, tel.: (021)2508669) has a lot of small and very uncomfortable vans with almost no luggage space going to Sinaia – Brasov, Targu Mures, Deva and even Bistrita, with new routes being added quite often. Their only advantage is that they are fast. I hate them. And they hate me.
Other “bus stations”: while some of the international buses stop in Revolution Square, some others (as well as their connections towards various cities in Romania) stop on the makeshift bus station on the Splaiul Unirii / Victory Avenue crossing. Vans going to Giurgiu start from the area around Eroii Revolutiei metro station. Vans going to Slobozia start from the area around Obor metro station (at the beginning of Colentina Road).
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