Budapest bikes (BUBI): on the right path to more integrated public transport

Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is the largest metropolitan area in Central Eastern Europe and a regional pioneer in innovative and integrated public transport systems. With 600 thousand car trips per day for only 1.7 million inhabitants, the city needed to better integrate cycling into its already well-developed public transport system. Thanks to a budget of EUR 3.5 million, the Budapest Bicycle – named ‘BUBI’ by popular demand – hit the city’s streets in September 2014. Since then, the bicycle-sharing services have been extended and expanded, reaching 2.5 million individual trips by October 2018.

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Bicycle © Creative Commons Bicycle © Creative Commons

" By launching the Bubi public bike sharing scheme, BKK opened a new chapter in Budapest’s public transport. By improving conditions for cycling, BKK’s objective is for more and more passengers to opt for cycling as their travel choice, to reach their destinations quickly in Budapest "

Budapesti Közlekedési Központ (Centre for Budapest Transport)

The BUBI project aimed to overcome challenges facing many capital cities today, including excessive road vehicle traffic, air and noise pollution, deteriorating environmental quality, and longer journey times. The project implemented the BUBI public bike-sharing scheme alongside bike-friendly road measures within the inner city – such as cycle lanes and bike-friendly intersections. For short inner city journeys, this prompted road users to switch from private cars to traditional public transport combined with public bikes as a first/last mile solution. 

The project carried out research to learn from the experience of similar public bike sharing schemes in London, Paris and Brussels. Drawing on their findings, BUBI decided to offer cycling free-of-charge for a 30-minute period to all those with a valid ticket or pass. After the initial half an hour, the fee increases gradually, making it less cost-effective to use the bikes for longer periods. The aim of this timely and balanced approach is to ensure that bicycles will always be available at docking stations. 

Just the ticket

The project also introduced video surveillance camera systems and a computer terminal that can identify users and provide real-time information about the number of bikes available at each docking station. Electronic locks were fitted on the bicycles, eliminating the recurrent problem of over-full stations.
To register, users can sign up in person and make a one-off payment for a quarterly, half-yearly or annual pass. Alternatively, users can purchase a 24-hour, 72-hour or weekly ticket by bank card with a returnable deposit.

Since the project began, the number of registered users has surpassed 65 000 and BUBI bikes have clocked up over 5 million kilometres.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “BUBI – Budapest Bicycle – public bike-sharing scheme” is EUR 3 500 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 2 200 000 through the “Competitive Central-Hungary” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period.


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