15 unwritten rules for public-transportation riders in Budapest


  • We Love Budapest

19/06/2017 9.10am

Public transportation is an inexhaustible source of frustration, and not just because of the crowds and traffic jams. Generally, more people equals more stress, especially when everyone is in a hurry to get where they need to go. However, by thinking as a community instead of for ourselves, we might be able to avoid some everyday annoyances and live (and travel) together peacefully. In this guide, we collected the most common behaviors to avoid on Budapest’s buses, trams, and metros, from basic unwritten rules to frequent predicaments.

Stand right, walk left


In other European metropolises, giving way to those in a hurry is self-evident. A lot can depend on those few seconds while sprinting up or down the escalator: sometimes it’s all it takes to catch the metro or a connection. If you’re leisurely standing still while riding the escalator, please stand to the right to let those in a hurry pass by, and don’t give them dirty looks or make arrogant comments like “what’s the rush?”

Don’t sit in the “aisle” seat


Some like to be cautious and sit in the “aisle” seat instead of the one next to the window, figuring that they will get off the vehicle soon, anyway – but “soon” typically varies from one to many, many stops. When the bus is already full, the window seats often remain empty, since it’s often easier to stand than to squeeze past the aisle-seat occupiers, making the bus even more crowded.

But don’t be a third wheel, either


On metro line 3, there are some vaguely two-person seats at the end of the train cars. Three skinny passengers might actually fit in these, but it’s obviously more comfortable for two people to occupy the seat. Is it really worth squeezing (and then sweating) between them? We don’t think so.

Crowding at the door – not worth it


Again, just because you travel for a short time, you shouldn’t look forward to disembarking too much. By standing right next to the door, you make it difficult for other passengers to get on and off the vehicle, and they will either shove you out of the way or bump into you anyway. Believe us, you won’t miss your stop by waiting a few steps away – but if you’re really anxious about it, be a good sport and let people through by getting off the vehicle for a few seconds, and then reboarding with the new passengers.

Don’t trample on considerate folks


Following up on the previous point: if someone is considerate enough to let others get off by also stepping off the vehicle and standing to the side of the door, don’t cut past them in line! They already made a nice gesture, so follow that example.



Most of you might already know what manspreading is: when men spread their legs so wide that they end up taking multiple seats on public transport. While male anatomy might warrant sight spreading, arranging your legs in a 90-degree pose doesn’t conform to the norms of society in any way. For more material on the topic, feel free to research on the blogs Saving room for cats and Your Balls Are Not That Big, complete with photographic illustrations. Take the hint and close your legs.

...and #bagspreading


Even the general guidelines of Budapest’s BKK public-transport company ask passengers to take off their backpacks in order to provide more space and avoid knocking over other people. However, the rule applies to all bags – if you see people standing around you, take your bag off the seat and put it in your lap. Just because they don’t ask, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to sit down.

Give up your seat


The golden rule of public transport is: give up your seat to those in need. The elderly, pregnant ladies, people in leg casts, etc. – they probably need that seat much more than you do.

Keep your voice (and music) down


Other passengers are surely not interested in your favorite songs, personal banter, or the details of your gastroscopy. So, when listening to music, use earphones or headphones, and save sensitive phone calls for when you’re alone – or not surrounded by crowds of strangers, at least.

It’s rude to stare


It’s the 21st century, so except for some nerds who read books on public transport, most people stare at their smartphones while taking a ride, which is all good as long as they keep their glances to their own devices. The same applies to checking out extravagant hairstyles and outfits, cleavage, and same-sex couples – live and let live.

Don’t toss your hair


Throwing back long hair over one’s shoulders can indeed look very attractive – just not when those luscious locks make their way into our esophagus. Before performing any dynamic hair whips, check if someone is standing behind you.

Window-opening etiquette


Everyone tolerates cold differently, as best demonstrated during the spring and fall months, when outfits range from shorts and tank tops to scarves and jackets. Keep this in mind before opening a window on the bus, and ask those around you if it is OK with them.

Unpredictable umbrellas


Sticking with the topic of the weather – let’s talk umbrellas. Buses and trams are wet and muddy enough when it’s raining outside, so please don’t make matters worse by shaking the water off your umbrella and onto other passengers. Instead, close it and set it at your feet – or inside its sleeve if it’s a compact version.

Public health and body fluids


Hygiene-wise, grabbing the handrails after coughing or sneezing into your hand makes you a germ-spreader. To avoid infecting the public, try covering your face with your elbow (optionally while performing a stylish “dab”) or a face mask, or even better: just avoid public transport and crowds if your cold is contagious!

After getting off…


If you’re exploring new terrain and need to check your phone for directions, or just really need to check your messages, do so after stepping aside and allowing other passengers to get off the vehicle, as well. This applies to the on-board purchasing of tickets, too: have your wallet ready and you won’t hold up the entire bus.

We could continue the guide indefinitely, but the point is clear: while everyone has different tolerance levels, some things behavioral norms cannot be avoided. With minimal effort, we can make life and public transport much more pleasant for everyone involved.

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