City guide

Grab and Go: Ride the new MOL Bubi bikes all around Budapest

Photo : BKK
Grab and Go: Ride the new MOL Bubi bikes all around Budapest

Budapest is a relatively easy city to traverse with public transportation, and it’s now even easier with the newly inaugurated MOL Bubi shared-bike system of sturdy green cycles. These short-term rental bikes can be picked up at dozens of docking stations around the city with the proper ticket or pass, providing users with 30 minutes of free riding time to reach their inner-city destination before re-docking the bike. Here’s everything you need to know about this handy new transport system.

MOL Bubi
  • 1052 Budapest, Belváros

There are 76 docking stations around Budapest, and 1,100 sturdy apple-green colored bikes in the system, available all year round and 24 hours a day. The entire system is operated under the auspices of Budapest’s BKK public-transportation company, and docking stations are located at no less than about 500 meters from each other. Docking stations are located at City Park, Margaret Island, Gozsdu Udvar, Andrássy Avenue, dotted along the Grand Boulevard, and at many other locations; check out http://molbubi.bkk.hu to view a complete map of station sites.

Photo: BKK
How to get a pass or ticket
A MOL Bubi card or ticket is required to use the system (ordinary BKK passes do not apply). You can pre-register for a MOL Bubi card online, but cards must be collected at one of the city’s BKK customer service centers, located at the Deák Ferenc Square metro station, the Kelenföld train station metro station, the Keleti pályaudvar metro station, and the BKK central customer service center at Rumbach Sebestyén Street 19-21 in District VII near Deák Square.   
Photo: BKK
Tickets can be purchased online or at the main docking stations – there are plenty of these citywide, but some locations include the Déli Metro Station, Deák Ferenc Square, Szent Gellért Square, Heroes’ Square, and Oktogon. A credit card or pay pass can be used. Your pin code will be sent to your mobile phone by SMS. Whether you use a pass or a ticket, you will be able to use your mobile number and pin to use the system.
Photo: BKK
Pass and ticket prices

There are two options: one is to use either a 24-hour, 72-hour, or seven-day ticket, and the other option is a 180-day or 365-day pass. As an early promotional discount, the 365-day pass currently costs 12,000 forints instead of 18,900 forints (including 5,000 forints’ worth of useable time), while the 180-day pass is currently 8,000 forints instead of 12,500 forints (including 3,000 forints worth of useable time). There is also a special discounted MOL Bubi Start Pass that’s now available until December 31. It costs 3,000 forints, and of that 1,500 forints can be applied to use toward additional minutes. The 24-hour ticket costs 500 forints, the 72-hour ticket costs 1,000 forints, and the seven-day ticket costs 2,000 forints.

Additionally, a permanent 50% discount is offered to anyone who shows their one-year BKK transport pass when purchasing a MOL Bubi one-year pass. High-school and university students who can show an accepted student ID also receive a 20% discount on the 180-day pass. As an added bonus, these discounts apply to the already discounted starting prices as well.  

After attaining a ticket or pass, you can use the bikes free for the first 30 minutes from taking a bike from a docking station, but after that time period there is a fee structure. Initial purchases of passes include “useable” amounts of money, but once that amount has been used you will be charged the additional fee on the bank card that is used to purchase the pass.  

A 25,000-forint deposit is “locked” on your bankcard when you purchase a ticket; the ticket price plus any fees for additional minutes are taken from this deposit. For those who purchase a pass there is no deposit, but users who take a bike beyond the free 30 minutes and have run out of the alloted amount of useable money, they must top up the pass to continue using the system.  

Photo: BKK
Usage fees
The bikes are meant for short inner-city use to get from point A to B, not for leisurely all-day-long bike trips or to store the bike at work during the day. Users should make sure to keep track of exactly when they hired the bike, as there’s no timer on the bike itself. Most trips should fall within the free 30-minute period, because even the two docking stations that are furthest apart are located only about a 20-minute ride away from each other. If the bike is not docked within 30 minutes, these are the fees:

0 – 30 minutes: FREE
Up to 60 minutes: 500 HUF
Up to 90 minutes: 1000 HUF
Up to 120 minutes: 1,500 HUF
Up to 150 minutes: 2,000 HUF
Up to 180 minutes: 2,500 HUF
181 minutes to 5 hours and 59 minutes: every new 30-minute block incurs a fee of 1,000 HUF
6 hours to 8 hours and 59 minutes: every new 30-minute block incurs a fee of 1,500 HUF  
Beyond 9 hours: every new 30-minute block incurs a fee of 2,000 HUF   

Photo: BKK
How to use a MOL Bubi bike
Once the ticket or pass is purchased, the process to use a MOL Bubi bike is fairly straightforward. If you have a pass, touch it to the pinpad at the back of the bike. Alternatively, you can use your mobile number and personal pin code instead at the back of the bike or at the docking station terminal. A flashing green light and a beep signals that the bike is ready for removal from the dock, and then you’re on your way. One MOL Bubi pass can be used to hire up to four bikes at one time. If you’ve bought a ticket (using a credit card or pay pass), your mobile number will be requested and a pin will be sent to your mobile. Using the keypad at the back of the bike, enter your mobile number and pin, and the bike is ready to go. You can use the bike 24 hours a day, and multiple time in a single day – the first 30 minutes is always free. There are locks provided on the bike that can be used to temporarily park your bike should you need to stop somewhere along the way.
Photo: BKK
Return the bike
Once you’ve completed your journey and reached a docking station, swipe your pass or use your mobile/pin combination. The bike’s lock will open and you can place it against the docking pad, press P on the keypad, and then once the bike is secured swipe your pass or key in your mobile and pin once more, and you’re free to go. If the docking stations are full, you can always lock it to the additional green stands.
Photo: BKK
Other tips:
The height of the seats can be adjusted to make sure it’s comfortable. There are strong lights on these bikes for nighttime use. The tires are made of a super-strong material, so flat tires are unlikely. However, if you want to use a helmet you must bring your own – these are not available at the docking stations.