So here’s my take on the Brasov city bus system. I know the view of city buses in the US and it’s not good. When we came here I was a little worried about how the buses would be. Luckily a cab ride just about anywhere in the city is about 10 lei, so I had a backup plan. Fortunately, I didn’t need a backup plan as the buses are really good and convenient.
I’ll start with learning the system. The RATB website is great. There are schedules for every line posted with stops included. Used along with Google Maps on your phone you can figure out where you’re going quite easily. In the last few months I’ve discovered Moovit. Moovit is a great app that alerts you when you’re near a bus stop and what times buses are scheduled to come through. You can type in where you want to go and the app will tell you how to get there. No matter how many transfers you have to make or if you have to walk on foot for a stretch. It’s really useful if you don’t know your way around the public transportation system. What’s funny is the app has many times been more accurate than the electronic signs or the posted schedule. Not sure how they’re doing that, but I’m glad they are 🙂 The stops are always close enough to where you want to go and the buses are generally on time. My son texted the other day that the bus wouldn’t start. He was disappointed and had no idea how long he would have to wait. Three minutes later I got a text saying a new bus was there. So they handle problems very well.
Dogs are welcome on the bus to a certain degree. Since my dog is larger, there are people that are uncomfortable with her even though she’s the nicest dog in the world. I’m not completely sure, but I think the rules say if a big dog is on the bus, then it has to be muzzled. I carry a muzzle everywhere she goes just in case. She has a problem riding the bus in general because she has bad knees and the drivers aren’t very smooth with their starts and stops. Little dogs are good to go since they can sit in your lap if the bus gets full.
The buses do get extremely full in winter. I’ve been on buses so full that the doors can’t close. The driver is yelling at people to cram in or get off so he can move on. It can be uncomfortable being in such close proximity to others if you’re not acclimated. During the summer most people walk and opt out of the bus system if they can make it wherever they’re going. The bus gets very hot in the summer because people don’t like to open windows.
The buses are often dirty, especially in winter. There is a lot of snow, ice, mud, and muck that gets dragged onto the bus. They clean out the buses whenever they can, but it’s not possible to keep up the amount of riders. You can also get dirty from the dirt on the outside of the bus as you get on and off. So don’t expect to be perfect if you’re riding the bus, even though it’s possible once you learn the ins and outs.
There are signs all over the buses now warning about pickpockets. I’ve never had an incident like this on the bus, even though the signs say to watch your pockets. I was worried about that when I first came to Romania, but it’s not as big a threat as everyone says. The only issue I’ve ever had was there was an old drunk talking trash on a bus once.
Only one bus driver I’ve ever met spoke English, but I’ve never attempted to speak English with any bus driver though. The one just spoke to us because maybe he overheard us, so I can’t say whether or not they’re adequate or not. The controllers that sometimes board the bus and check tickets do not speak English. The people that work in the ticket booths have all had enough English to get the job done. The interesting thing is there are now ticket machines at a lot of bus stops. You can get tickets and even passes from the machines. They have a button to make the machine use English. Unfortunately, if you try that button the machine usually doesn’t work. So with a little Romanian, some good guessing, or a friend who understands, you can buy tickets from the machine.