RATB in minor improvement shocker

Whisper it, but there has been a minor revolution at RATB, the Bucharest public transport authority. In what we can only describe as a very small yet welcome leap forward, it has begun to publish full timetable information for every route it operates.

What’s more, our early, wholly unscientific experiments would suggest that the timetables are, amazingly, relatively accurate.

Until recently, RATB published only very general timetables for most routes, getting down to specifics only for special lines such as the dreaded 783 bus to the airport. (By the way we should point out that the No. 783 runs through the night, and has done for some time. Not – it has to be said – at frequent intervals, but it’s certainly something, not least given how cheap taxis at the airport have been quietly disappeared in a move reminiscent of 1970s Chile).

Anyway, every stop on every RATB route now has a timetable clearly stating when the next bus, trolleybus or tram is due.

Take Posta Vitan, for example, the tram stop closest to Chez Bucharest Life (although no longer anywhere near the actual Posta Vitan, which closed years ago). The stop is on tram routes 1, 23 and 27. In a development that brings RATB roaring into the 1990s, we can now visit RATB’s website, find the route we are interested in, find the stop and then download a PDF. It is hardly a one-click process. Still, we can now see that the number 23 tram is due at these times and plan accordingly.

Marvellous. Until now it was all guesswork.

We found out that the timetables were online after reading this press release which went out last week. For those of you who struggle with Romanian, what it basically says is that there is now a mobile RATB website (which is hopeless by the way: it barely differs from the desktop version and is fundamentally useless), and – most importantly – that all buses, trolleybuses and trams will from now on follow ‘strict’ (their word, not ours) timetables.

It’s a small step forward, but a step forward nevertheless.

We understand that RATB plans on posting timetables at each stop in the future (we have yet to notice any). What they really need is an app that will tell passengers when the next vehicle is due, as well as display boards at each stop with real-time information.

All in good time. About 20 years no doubt.


12 thoughts on “RATB in minor improvement shocker

  1. If I remember correctly, they already had timetables for phantom buses/trams, those arriving once or twice per hour. For the rest, they had the frequency.
    Now they nominally have a precise timetable, but good luck with that during today’s rush hour (or every hour in Ghencea). You still have to rely on some sense of their frequency, but now you have to estimate it yourself from the timetable.
    The point is to have frequent and reliable trams and buses, one every ~3 minutes for major routes, so that we don’t really need timetables at all. Or prayers.
    Some good people say that those new timetables also show that there are less and less working trams and buses in Bucharest.


    1. Yes, that was what struck me: how few services there actually are. Routes such as the 23 and 27 having just three or four services an hour is ridiculous. What’s more, on the sections where those two teams run together (Dristor/Dudesti/ Goga/Marasesti) they are scheduled to run just one minute apart, leaving long periods with no service at all. Total lack of joined-up thinking.


      1. Having three buses arrive at almost the same time then waiting for half an hour for the next one has long been one of the marvels of Bucharest public transportation.


      2. They don’t have more to deploy and there’s obviously a shortage in the fleet to serve the current city needs. Last year the entire fleet was supposed to have only one tram added and not a new one but reconditioned. This year the budget is not out yet. The problem is not RATB per se (even though they live in ancient times) but the City Hall which has them under its wings. And we all know that City Hall is hell to Bucharest people.


      3. Agree that it is not RATB at fault: indeed, they have sent a list of mainly sound proposals to improve things to the council, which is currently doing nothing with it.


      4. There seems to be a legislative problem too. According to Government Ordinance 21/2011, the powers to regulate public transportation in Bucharest have been transferred from the Bucharest municipality to some metropolitan authority subordinated to the central government (Autoritatea Metropolitană de Transport București). A rather bad idea, and that authority is currently not operational, as far as I know.


  2. posting timetables at stops would still be a massive improvement – sometimes when waiting for the bus at an isolated, unimportant bus stop under a tree that consists of a pole with a sign with faded writing where you can barely make out that it’s a ‘226’ stop, you’re not given much hope than any vehicles are actually going to be passing by, let alone WHEN. anyway this is pretty good news. I’ll take any RATB improvements I can get!


  3. Unless there is a way to remove traffic, buses will always suck. Trams are ok though and metro is the mutts nuts


  4. Having lived in fundamentally shit and disconnected transport systems – Ho Chi Ming City for example what I have found here has been great.

    Things are connected but this alchemy with times they arrive is a good development. Wouldn’t it be nice for it to be like places I have lived which were fundamentally great like Hong Kong or Melbourne?

    May I live long enough to see it.


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