The first bus in Budapest public transport in 1915 | source: Hungarian Museum of Science

Bus public transport in Budapest 100 years old

March 2, 2015

March 1, 1915 saw the launch of the first public service bus line in the Hungarian capital with two vehicles (an electric- and a gasoline-powered one). 100 years later, also on a Sunday, old buses paraded on Andrássy Avenue to commemorate the anniversary.

It was at seven a.m. on Sunday March 1, 1915 that the first local public transport bus service began operation in Budapest, replacing the horse-drawn omnibuses. The buses departed from the corner of Aréna (today’s Dózsa György) Road and Nagy János (Benczúr) Street, ran along Andrássy Avenue and up to Vilmos császár (today’s Bajcsy-Zsilinszky) Road.

As chief museologist Miklós Merczi of the Hungarian Museum of Science, Technology and Transport points out to Diplomacy & Trade, it might sound strange today but one of the two buses (a double-decker) used at the launch of the regular service a hundred years ago was actually powered by an electric engine (and the other – that, unfortunately, broke down soon - by a gasoline engine). Within two years, the number of vehicles of various types was close to a dozen.

According to a contemporary news report, “First, there were hardly any people using the appetizing and comfortable vehicle, the conductors on board needed to invite the public with kind encouragement. It was only later, when people learned that anyone can travel on these automobiles for 14 fillérs, that the business swung up and passengers swarmed the velvet couch of the vehicle and the benches of the upper deck. They were delighted to find that the new instrument ran smoothly and moved fast."

Despite its favorable reception by the public, the first regular bus service was short-lived – due to Hungary’s involvement in World War I. The lack of rubber tires and gasoline, and the vehicles being ordered to the front line meant that the local bus transport was stalled and then came to a halt on April 10 1917.

However, the balance of the over-two-year operation was favorable. The vehicles ran 274,000 kilometers altogether, transported 2.3 million passengers and were fiscally profitable.

The regular bus service in Budapest was re-launched three years after the war, on September 24, 1921.


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