Monday, September 8, 2014

Bubis are out -- finally!

Photo stolen from the Urbanista blog.
At long last, Budapest's new bike share system has shed its training wheels.

Bubi made its full public debut this morning with 1,100 bikes available from 76 docking stations around downtown, Margit Island and a few places in Buda on or near the Danube bank.

Now, anyone interested in using one can do so. For the grand opening, the price of entry is just HUF 100 (about EUR 0.30). This buys you a seven-day ticket, which is obtainable at a Bubi docking point. You'll need to bring a bank card and mobile phone.

Long-term options are also available. A year pass is HUF 12,000 or just HUF 6,000 for those who have a BKK public transport pass. There are other options, as well.

The system launch ends a long, frustrating period of internal and public testing that started back in April. The system was plagued with bugs, mainly IT things related to the rental mechanism and the on-board electronic lock. Just a week ago, there was a reported problem with the docking station bank card reader.

But a final round of public trials involving some 1,000 volunteers ended last week, and the Budapest Transport Centre today opened it up to everyone.
In our family, we all have our own bikes and I've wondered whether I'll actually participate in Bubi. But I spotted an attractive feature in the system: With a single long-term pass (Bubi kartya), you can check out up to four bikes at a time. This would come in handy when we have visitors and need some extra bikes. Rather than having to keep a fleet of our own guest bikes, or having to arrange long-term rentals from a Budapest shop (limited weekend hours), we could all walk down to the nearest Bubi station (5-10 minutes from our front door), check out some bikes and take off.

The Bubi bikes are heavy and pokey (like shared bikes everywhere), but for short rides around town, they're fine. I think people will soon come to appreciate how this new mode of transport can make their lives easier and more fun.


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