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.