Budapest finally looks set to rid itself of its time-consuming, antiquated and downright detested public transport paper ticket validation system, with Budapest Transport Company (BKV) announcing last week its plans to finally roll out a new e-ticketing card system over the next two years.
The proposal calls for the introduction of a modern, time-based card system that will allow users an unlimited number of transfers for the period that has been purchased on the card.
While the idea has been bandied about for years, the company looks serious about its implementation this time as it announced a rough timeline for its rollout. Looking to complete the new fare system by 2017, the company is set to introduce the travel card to pensioners by late this year and hopes to complete the distribution of nearly 9 million metro cards by as early as spring 2016.
BKV has assured Budapesters that they will not be charged for the new chip cards. The rollout will then be completed in a stage-by-stage process, as the cards will first replace season tickets and later – hopefully by 2017 – single-trip tickets.
While the new system will be sure to please public transit users regularly frustrated by the time-consuming double system that requires both ticket validation and inspection, the hope at BKV is that it will significantly decrease the number of fare dodgers. Last year alone, the company’s army of 440 full-time inspectors and 400 security guards caught 363,000 ticketless passengers – an average of nearly 1000 every day.
While the revenue from those violations was in excess of HUF 1 billion, it was not nearly enough to cover the nearly HUF 2.5 billion the company spent in hiring new security and inspection staff.
While the new system is sure to please time-conscious travellers and money-conscious BKV executives, there was no indication in the announcement as to the fate of the company’s 440 full-time paper ticket inspectors.
Interesting fact: In 2014, nearly 1000 passengers were caught without a valid ticket on Budapest’s vast metro system – every day!