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Home » Europe, Expat Life, Relocations, Videos

Public Transportation in Romania

An extensive overview of transportation means in Bucharest and the surroundings

By Balkans Insider
December 16, 2011

romanian trainUpon arrival to a foreign city, one of the most common concerns of expats is how to get around the city. For those relocating to Romania, we have prepared an overview of local and public transportation options.

The most convenient way to get to where you need to be in Bucharest is to use public transportation,  including bus, tram, trolley bus and subway. If you prefer to have your own comfort and space, maybe a taxi or your own vehicle is a better option.

Buses, trams and trolley buses operate between 5:00 and 23:00 every day, and are inexpensive and reliable. Tickets should be purchased beforehand and validated upon boarding. They can be bought at one of the yellow painted kiosks with the logo “RATB” (only for Bucharest). You may be asked to show your validated ticket by the controller during the trip. Should the traveller not have a valid ticket, an on-the-spot fine of $15 (approx. 47 Romanian lei) is to be paid immediately. Ticket validity ranges from a $0.50 one-trip ticket to daily tickets, weekly tickets, biweekly tickets, up to an $8.40 monthly transportation passes.  Tickets are interchangeable for the bus, tram and trolley bus. Note that yellow kiosks are closed during the weekend.

Although very convenient, reliable and cheap, this kind of public transportation has its disadvantages. It is often overcrowded and sometimes very slow due to busy traffic. Pickpockets are widespread on all forms of public transport in Bucharest, so take good care of your belongings while traveling.

Express bus transportation is a good option, especially if you prefer to explore some countryside areas or other cities, or if you commute from out of town every day. There are quite a few bus companies that offer fast and reasonably priced connections between Romania’s main cities. Inter-city bus stations are located close to train stations, and you can purchase tickets for two or ten journeys, as well as a monthly bus pass.

Subways in Bucharest also operate from 5:00 to 23:00 every day. Bucharest is the only city in Romania with a subway, first opened in 1979, and now grown to include four subway lines and 39 stations. This option of transport is very reliable, a bit more comfortable and much faster than bus or tram transportation. Trains arrive to stations every four to seven minutes during peak time and every 15 to 20 minutes during off-peak times. The regular distance between the stops is one mile. You can purchase a ticket for two trips, ten trips, a weekend, a week, or a monthly pass. The price ranges from $0.90 to $8.40, and you can buy your ticket from the offices at the stations.

Taxi is another option to get around the city. It is of course much more comfortable than a tram or a bus, but notably more expensive, although still affordable by western European standards. The average price per mile is $1.15 plus an initial fee of $0.70. Use authorized taxis, which you can recognize by a TAXI sign on the roof of the car. Avoid using taxi services offered by drivers who approach you at the airport or train stations, as they are likely to inflate their rates. It is also very convenient to use a taxi for longer trips outside the city, but in such instances it is advisable to negotiate the price before the trip.
Maxi-taxi is a name for shared taxi minibus. They run along the main roads in Bucharest and are a supplement to the bus services. Maxi-taxis are not used for long distances. They operate in the area in, near and around Bucharest (up to 50 km outside the capital).

Personal or rent-a-car vehicles are the best way to move around the country. Gas is reasonably priced compared to other European countries, and there are many stations along the road.  The speed limit inside cities is 50 km/h, for national roads 90km/h, for European roads 100km/h and on the highways 130 km/h.
If you live in Bucharest, you might consider not driving your car in the city. Bucharest has a particularly high density of traffic and getting anywhere by car, especially during busy traffic hours, can be highly stressful. It is recommended to use alternative modes of transportation in the city itself.

Train is a great transportation option if you wish to explore the country. Romania’s railway network covers most of the country. The quality of trains varies. There are new and modern trains which are fast and comfy, but also some old and worn-out trains that will rattle your teeth. Railway transportation is generally surprisingly inexpensive, reliable and comfortable. If you decide to take a train in Romania, you will be offered three service levels: local trains (the least expensive but very slow) express trains (faster, more comfortable, more expensive) and inter-city trains (the fastest, the most comfortable and, of course, the most expensive). If you are going to travel late at night or travel overnight in the train, avoid the first option. For train enthusiasts, Romania has a couple of refurbished trains from the 1920s and 1930s still operating. They offer memorable travel experience for those who are prepared to pay the price.

For more information about public transportation in Romania, visit our Bucharest City Guide for expatriates!

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