City guide

How to use Budapest’s public transportation with dogs

Photo : Hartyányi Norbert - We Love Budapest
How to use Budapest’s public transportation with dogs

Urban dwellers will crack a smile even on the most crowded tram when a dog owner arrives with a four-legged friend. However, no matter how adorable they are, there are plenty of rules regulating the way that man’s best friend can travel. Escalators can be the source of numerous problems, and – as we learned at a recent press conference of BKK (Budapest’s public transportation operator) – size does matter when it comes to dogs.

BKK and Rex Dog Shelter launched a campaign to educate Budapest’s residents about the correct and safe way of traveling with dogs – they demonstrated these for the press with the help of two pooches, Mandarin and Dolly, at their recent press conference. As it turned out, the pups that can fit into a bag have an advantage; a pet like that was hidden in the bag of Dr. Annamária Szűcs, the communications director of BKK.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
Smaller animals are easier to handle for multiple reasons: if the dog can fit in a bag, a dog-carrier box, or a cage, then the owner doesn’t have to put a muzzle on it; and since the closed box counts as hand luggage, it’s free to take on board. If our four-legged friend is bigger than that, we must put a muzzle and a leash on it, even if we carry it in our laps. Various muzzles can be used, there’s only one rule: a head halter is not suitable for this purpose, because dogs can bite through that.
Regarding the prices, dogs and people are equal on BKK-operated lines: we must purchase a full-priced ticket or pass for them. Although that seems expensive, especially when added to the travel costs for the owner, 1,605 people bought dog passes last year in Budapest. On these passes, instead of a photo they write “DOG” – and of course, one can have some fun and put the dog’s portrait on the pass. Naturally, assistance, guide, and police dogs all travel for free. However, no dogs are allowed on the seats.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
Veterinarian Dr. István Koleszár warned that the tops and bottoms of escalators are the sources of the most serious accidents, as dogs’ legs can get stuck at these points, and the damaged limb often has to be amputated. He deals with about three or four such cases every year, and there are about 100 veterinary practices around Budapest. Dogs can also be surprised by the automatic platforms of trams, or doors that open or shut suddenly.
This is why, if we would like to take the escalator with a larger dog, it’s best to ask the ticket inspectors to stop it while we walk down. Another bit of practical advice is to always have the dog’s vaccination records handy, as authorities may ask for them.