Personal car or public means – which is the best way of transport in Bucharest?

Bucharest is undoubtedly the largest city in Romania. In terms of population, it exceeds by far some of the other big cities, such as Cluj-Napoca, Iași, Timișoara or Constanța. But it is also the most crowded. If you live and work in Bucharest, you will definitely need to travel around.
Transport in Bucharest

And the main available ways to move around the city is either by personal car or by public transport. But what is the best transportation choice?

In this article we will describe you the main advantages and disadvantages of each type of transport in Bucharest, so that you can choose the option that suits your needs.

Let’s see the available options of moving around the city, and pros and cons for each of them.

Personal car

Flexibility, freedom of moving and best comfort

Driving a personal vehicle will surely give you freedom of movement and flexibility. You can go out anytime at night or as early as you want. Plus, you don’t have to wait in traffic for other people to get off at stations. It’s just you, your vehicle and your destination.

Having your own car as a means of transport, you will have much more freedom than if you used public transport. If you need to travel long distances, then it’s worth investing in a car to make sure you’ll be comfortable at all times. A car will allow you to transport equipment, shopping more easily, and also the final destination on the way back will be your own home.

Traffic jams, high cost, and lack of parking options

Having a personal car as a means of transport in Bucharest could also involve saving some time waiting for the next bus. Nevertheless, the same time (or sometimes even more) could be spent in the heavy Bucharest traffic. In Bucharest, during rush hours, you may find yourself spending hours in the heavy city traffic. So, depending on the time of the day you need to commute, traveling with your own car may not be the best option.

If available, you may want to choose the subway, and avoid traffic jam.

traffic jam_transport in Bucharest
Traffic jam in Bucharest

Driving your personal car could come with additional problems, too. Apart from the time wasted in traffic jams, another drawback of using a personal car is the monthly budget that you have to allocate for its maintenance, fuel, local taxes, road tax and insurance. Depending on the car type or brand, you can end up paying much more money in a year than if you were to use Uber or any similar taxi services.

The lack of parking is another disadvantage of transport in Bucharest. If you don’t have your own parking space, both at work and at home, you will lose time until you find one available, and chances are that the parking space is quite far from the area you need to get to.

Also, this may seem quite obvious, but driving your own vehicle is not so environmentally friendly. Unless you’re using an electric car, you’re burning fossil fuels at a higher rate per capita than if you were using any public transportation means. So, if you’re a person that really cares about the environment, this should be the last choice for you.

Public surface transport – buses, trolleybuses and trams

Low cost, less stressful

The bus network in Bucharest, made up of a mix of public and private operators, is extensive and generally quite competitive.

In general, it is much cheaper to use public transport as a means of transport in Bucharest to get around, than to use your own vehicle. You don’t have to pay for fuel, taxes, insurance, parking, maintenance or cleaning. You only pay the fare for the trip and you will reach your destination.

Another benefit of traveling by public transport is that you won’t have to stress too much about the route or where to park. You buy your ticket, wait for the bus you want, get on and reach the place where you need to go.

Using public transport is more environmentally friendly because more people can ride the same vehicle. Thus, carbon emissions per capita are greatly reduced. In addition, public transport such as trolleybuses, trams and buses are electric.

Slow, short reach and limited flexibility

With public surface transport, journey times can be slow and many points of interest outside the cities are not served. Therefore, you will only be able to get to places where public transport allows you. Bus routes do not reach everywhere in Bucharest, and sometimes you will have to walk to get to a certain point.

In Bucharest, surface public transport is also on the clock, and sometimes rides are very rare and slow. The means of public transport have a certain schedule to respect, and sometimes you have to wait 15 to 20 minutes between each ride. If you miss a bus or tram, you have to wait for the next one. That’s very inconvenient when you’re in a hurry. And some bus lines don’t operate at night, which means that while you can go most places during the day, you’ll have to find another form of transportation at night.

Underground public transport – the Bucharest subway

Bucharest subway – Piata Unirii station

Another means of transport in Bucharest, and the only one in the country at the moment, is the subway. Being a large city, Bucharest has high transport requirements, which must be met quickly and efficiently. Since people may have to reach different places in the city in short time, a well-organized transportation system that can cover such distances is the subway.

In Bucharest, there are 5 lines with approximately 60 subway stations. The subway lines cover the area from the north with a stop in Străulești, to the south with a stop in Berceni. The westernmost stop is Preciziei station and the easternmost stop is Anghel Saligny station.

Fast, low cost, and quite comfortable (less during rush hours)

The advantages of using the subway in Bucharest are numerous. To get to work, the subway is a very economical means of transport. A metro ride is much more comfortable than a bus ride, making it ideal when you’re in a hurry to get to work or a meeting. In addition, in a crowded city such as Bucharest, the subway is known to be one of the fastest forms of transport, avoiding traffic jams on the surface during rush hours.

Also, on the subway you will enjoy a safe journey, being less prone to traffic accidents. Last but not least, the metro is environmentally friendly. For the environmentally conscious people, the metro is the right choice when it comes to transportation in Bucharest, as it runs on electricity, being a an ecological type of vehicle.

Poor spread, on the clock, and crowded during rush hours

Unfortunately, the Bucharest subway also has some disadvantages. With only a few subway lines and approximately 60 stations throughout the city, the subway does not reach all areas of Bucharest. So, if you do not live and work close to a subway station, you will have to combine both the underground and the surface transport lines to reach your destination.

Also, as tens of thousands of people use them daily when going to and from work, the subway may get very crowded and uncomfortable during rush hours (in the morning and in the afternoon).

Last but not least, when you choose the metro as a means of transport in Bucharest, you have to be good friends with the clock. It’s important to know the travel times, to make sure you get where you need to be on time.

Tens of thousands of people travel everyday to all corners of Bucharest, to work, school or shopping. Each of them needs travel services that ensure a safe and comfortable commute. Regardless of the means of transport in Bucharest you choose, it is important to select the option that best suits your needs.

Can you share how you move around the city and which mean of transport do you use in Bucharest? Please share your opinion below with other expats in Bucharest.

Picture of Georgiana Dima

Georgiana Dima


2 Responses

  1. Very interesting comparison, congrats! I live in Bucharest, around Floreasca area, which is very nice. I prefer moving around by subway, but don’t have a station very close to my place, unfortunately. I have to walk around 7 minutes to the closest station at Stefan cel Mare, but subway is the fastest mean for me.

    Thanks for the useful articles on the website!

    1. Hi Martha, thank you for your contribution.

      Yes, indeed, unfortunately subway in Bucharest does not reach all areas and neighborhoods. You may probably know that the city hall is working on projects of extending the subway network, but of course such works will take time to develop.

      On the other side, I think that preference for one means of transport or the other depends a lot also on one’s living place as well as on the activity pattern – e.g., living close or far from a subway station, working from home or in the office on a daily basis, distance to the office or other places such as kids school/kindergarten, etc. So, depending mainly on these aspects, one could choose a certain type of transport mean.

      Thanks again for your contribution.

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