Well, it is more or less true. We had a chance to go on a voyage during the trial period and we also took a trip after the boat was officially in full operation. The first trip, from Boráros square to Rómaifürdő took more than two hours. At the moment the official time is said to be 1-1,5 hours which means that the boat is actually more of a cruise ship. It’s a great alternative for those who are not in a rush or for those who would rather choose sailing on River Danube than using the metro lines. Of course we should not forget that this initiative is more than great. Oh, and by the way could you imagine anything cooler than taking on a public transport boat right next to a place which was announced to be the coolest bar in the world according to a survey carried out by Lonely Planet?
There are two controllers on every boat. Usually they are elderly men who ask for your ticket when you take on and they thank you for choosing BKV when you take off. There are two younger men as well who belong to the crew. They are stylish, kind and helpful they wear sunglasses and sometimes they show off their tattoos as well. They will help you to get your kids, your baby buggies or your bicycles on board and you can buy tickets from them if you don’t have any. The captain is on top of the boat hierarchy. He is navigating from behind the wheels and he keeps track of the other boats. You can go inside his cabin, you can check how things work and you can ask your questions about sailing. Two out of two trips we had a chance to enjoy the company of a young easy-going captain.
The boats are open and permeable; you can discover basically anything on board. There are separate toilets for ladies and gentlemen. The bottom of the boat still has an old-fashioned feel to it, with its dining tables. The top is furnished with green, plastic chairs and tables – they kind of remind us of the typical camping furniture that is very popular around the weekend houses near Lake Balaton. Besides the interior we should mention the safety equipments or to be more precise the lack of the safety equipment. The harbour of A38 for example is completely open on the Danube side what’s more there is a few stairs which we can use as a trampoline to jump right in the water. The rails are quite low and the stairs are ridiculously steep so you should pay attention when taking on or off.
Surprising as it is we can take our bikes on board which might not be a good idea since it would be a lot faster to ride a bike all the way through. A kind of metal apparel is installed to which three bicycles can be linked. We were really looking forward for the free Wi-Fi connection but we could not get access to any network. We hope that the problem will be solved in a couple of days. We also hope that the on board buffet will shortly open. There are bars on board of each boat with tall glasses and beverage coolers that look rather promising. When we asked the crew about these bars they told us that they are due to open in a few weeks.
We found out that there are massive crowds in the mornings and in the afternoons on board. During the day it is not that packed but you can still expect for 30-40 people. During weekdays people can travel on the boat with any types of BKV passes but on weekends a single ticket must be purchased for a price of 400 forints. The first list of sailings was designed to exclude two stops at the rush hours – Kopaszigát and Római part, can only be approached in the morning and in the afternoon. In a previous article we mentioned that more boats on the D12 line – that include the two stops – will be in service but the public hardly knows anything about this change. So the best we can do is to go to the harbours, hope for good luck and for a boat that will take us to our destinations. The stops are kind of ‘hidden’ from the public but surprisingly tourists have already discovered this cheap sailing alternative. (We wonder what will happen with the cruise boat called Legend and the other sightseeing boats.) To whom do we suggest the BKV boat? If the bar will open and the free Wi-Fi network will be fixed the boat will be ideal for freelancers and for those who have some free time to waste.
What’s the final destination for the BKV boat?
Going sailing with the BKV boat is indeed a pleasant way to spend your time. Fortunately the boat is not the kind of sterile and rigid boat that fits perfectly into the criteria of the strict European Union norms. It’s just a small, slightly amateurish, Eastern-European boat with a pleasant atmosphere. Of course the question soon arises: will these boats be profitable for the Centre for Budapest Transport, also known as the BKK? A rather high-profile dock and harbour system was built in Budapest with a serious financial investment but the incomes of the boat will not cover these costs in the short run. The buffets will probably increase the incomes sooner or later. However we really hope that the boats will remain just as lovely as they are now and we also hope that the citizens of Budapest will realize that these boat line were very nice gestures from the city management. We should all enjoy the boats and the cruises; being in a rush all time is so over.