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Standardisation of Numbering on Public Transport in Budapest

By News Editor / Updated: 29 Aug 2014

The implementation of a standard naming system for all public transport lines in and around Budapest has made collective transport more attractive and easier to use. In addition, it makes public transit more intelligible to modern route-finding software.

Background & Objectives

Traditionally, the different public transport providers in the Budapest metro area used a multitude of numbering systems. The Hungarian Railway Company (MAV) assigned numbers to all of its lines and trains. The intercity coach service, Volan, originally had no number system and instead named each line after its destination. The public transport system of Budapest (BKV) inherited a numbering system that had been used since 1910. At the same time the suburban railway lines and the cogwheel railway line did not have numbers.

In recent years special bus lines were launched by the administrations of Budapest’s districts. These lines bore the names of their respective districts, which often caused confusion – especially for tourists unacquainted with the local geography.

Express bus lines, on the other hand, were distinguished by red numbers, but this colour coding could not be shown on black-and-white electronic displays.


The comprehensive reconsideration of public transport line nomenclature was undertaken when several line routes were changed in August 2008. Several longer lines were created in order to make public transport more attractive to users. It was a massive task unifying 150-year-old train numbering, 100-year-old tramline numbering and regional bus names that had no numbers at all. In the end, all the worded line designations were abandoned and replaced with numbers.>It was also ensured that all numbers were unique to one public transport line. In this spirit, the 73 trolleybus was kept, but the number 73 bus was renumbered.

In fact. the numbering system for the trolleybus lines was preserved. The lines start from 70, a custom originally honouring the 70th birthday of Stalin (!), which coincided with the launch of the first permanent trolleybus line in Budapest in 1949.

The numbers of night bus lines count from 900 (an international convention, as “nine” sounds like “night”). However, lines that run during the day and night can preserve their “daylight” number.

As Budapest and its suburbs have grown together, all suburban trains and coach lines operating in the Budapest agglomeration were also assigned numbers. This, of course, required detailed co-operation among the providers.


The first phase of the “number reform” was completed in 2008. Unification of the train, coach and urban transport systems required further work. Thus some bus and tram stop names were changed only in 2011. Beforehand, the tram stop at the junction of the Large Ring Road and Üll?i Avenue was called “Ring road” while the metro stop there was dubbed “Üll?i Avenue”. Now both stops bear the same name, “Corvin Quarter”.

Collective passenger transport
Mobility management
Miklos Marton
10 Jul 2012
29 Aug 2014
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