The third phase of the refurbishment project of metro line M3 affecting the city centre starts on Saturday, 7 November 2020 with the full closure of the section between Nagyvárad tér and Lehel tér stations. The metro will be operating on both workdays and weekends on the following two sections: between Kőbánya-Kispest and Nagyvárad tér stations as well as between Újpest-központ and Lehel tér stations.
Replacement buses will be operating, making maximum use of available capacity on the skipped section, running in dedicated bus lanes on most sections, with a peak-time frequency of 45 seconds. During the reconstruction of the middle section of the metro, BKK is expanding public transport services that avoid the closed section of the metro line – just like it was the case during the closure of the northern and southern line sections – providing further alternatives besides metro replacement buses. It is clear that the refurbishment will affect the traffic of the whole of Budapest and the surrounding metropolitan area, and it will cause inconvenience to many in the next one and a half years, and although BKK and BKV will do their best to alleviate the difficult traffic conditions, all commuters must be prepared for longer journey times. Car users should prepare for significant changes on Váci út, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, Üllői út and Kiskörút (Budapest’s Small Boulevard). The Municipality of Budapest, BKK Centre for Budapest Transport and BKV Zrt. are asking for the kind patience of the commuters of Budapest for the last major phase of the metro refurbishment project.
One of the most significant Budapest public transport investment projects of the 2010s and 2020s, the reconstruction of metro line M3, used by several hundred thousand passengers a day, was launched in the autumn of 2017. Since the spring of 2019, we have been able to travel through stations that were renovated on the first completed northern section, and on 22 October 2020, the southern section of the metro was opened as well. From Saturday, 7 November 2020, the reconstruction of the metro between Lehel tér and Nagyvárad tér will continue for an estimated period of one and a half years; after the northern and southern sections, this will be the last major phase of the reconstruction which will be followed by corrections requiring smaller restrictions for only a shorter period of time.
How can we travel on the middle section of the metro in the following one and a half years?
BKK has examined how traffic on the affected network is expected to change, and on the basis of this, developed its mobility plans in detail, dividing neighbourhoods into residential zones. BKK also used the experience of the last three years of the reconstruction for the planning, as previous measures to help replace the metro proved to work well: on the northern and southern sections, the metro replacement services have been running smoothly since the beginning of the reconstruction, the replacement buses run frequently and continuously at peak times, making maximum use of the available road capacity. Over the past three years, BKK has fully met the transport needs of the passengers with the metro replacement buses and the additional service capacity in alternative directions that avoided closed metro sections.
The metro will be operating on both workdays and at weekends on the following two sections: between Kőbánya-Kispest and Nagyvárad tér stations as well as between Újpest-központ and Lehel tér stations. Replacement buses will be operating, making maximum use of available capacity on the skipped section, running in dedicated bus lanes on most sections, with a peak-time frequency of 45 seconds. In addition, the replacement bus service between Lehel tér and Nyugati pályaudvar station is helped on weekdays during peak-time by bus M14, which departs from the bus stop next to the tram terminus at Lehel tér, primarily to help passengers arriving by tram 14 to get to the city centre. The faster movement and prioritisation of replacement buses on the entire line will be facilitated by traffic changes, e.g. bus lanes, as well as spare buses that will be placed at certain terminuses and major transport hubs, so that in the case of congestion or the need for a more frequent service, those would be able to enter into service.
Alternatives to the replacement bus: the expanding of fixed-rail (tram and metro) and trolleybus line options
As before, also now during the reconstruction of the middle section, BKK will expand the service offer of lines that connect most neighbourhoods directly to the city centre or to the currently operating metro lines that avoid the closed section of metro line M3. That is why passengers are advised to consider travel options other than the replacement buses: most of these high-capacity travel alternatives were offered already during the reconstruction of the two previous metro line sections with great success.
- There are many alternatives available for those traveling to/in the city centre: it is worth considering metro lines M1, M2 and M4, which offer favourable transfer options, trams 4 and 6 which connect busy transport hubs, tram 2 operating more frequently than usual, or trams 47 and 49 that operate on the inner ring along Károly körút and Múzeum körút.
- Passengers traveling to Nagyvárad tér by metro can reach the city centre not only by the replacement buses, but also by new tram line 2M, available as a new transport connection. Tram 2M departs from Keleti pályaudvar station and reaches Nagyvárad tér on the route of tram 24 by taking advantage of the new tram track built at the junction of Haller utca and Soroksári út, and after turning from Haller utca onto Soroksári út it operates on tram line 2 along the Pest embankment until Mari Jászai tér, serving several busy hubs in the city centre.
- Access options will be expanded by several trolleybus line developments from Monday, 2 November:
- trolleybus 72 marked as 72M is now running on an extended route on weekdays too, between Zugló and Orczy tér terminus via Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út–Kiskörút–Baross utca, offering extra capacity on the inner city route of the metro replacement buses;
- trolleybus 79, which operates from District 13 via Dózsa György út directly to Keleti pályaudvar, is now marked as bus 79M to better serve the transport connection needs of the passengers from the Népfürdő utca residential area by operating on an extended route to Dagály utca via Népfürdő utca, instead of Kárpát utca;
- In order to enhance the connection to the city centre, trolleybus 73 will continue to run on an extended route to Deák Ferenc tér via Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út.
- In order to facilitate travel across the city from North Buda and North Pest, BKK significantly enhances the service offer of tram line 1, which avoids the city centre and the replacement bus route of the metro section and connects the northern and southern sections of metro line M3 on the Hungária körút ring-road via Göncz Árpád városközpont and Népliget metro stations: a new tram line marked as 1M starts operating between Óbuda and Népliget, helping the service frequency of tram 1.
- Between the northern parts of the city and the city centre, BKK – in addition to using the metro which operates to Lehel tér – recommends the use of the following alternative routes, which have become widely known and used during the reconstruction of the northern metro section:
- From Újpest, it is worth using express bus 20E, which operates more often than usual, and will stop at Munkásotthon utca in the direction of the Keleti pályaudvar station from as of Monday, 2 November, in order to better serve the residents of the Rózsa utca lakótelep;
- Buses 5 and 7E, which run more frequently from Rákospalota and Újpalota during peak hours and directly to the city centre via Thököly út, reaching tram 1;
- From Óbuda, the interconnected tram lines in Buda, suburban railway line H5 which provides direct connections to metro line M2 as well as to trams 4 and 6, and also tram 1M providing extra frequency on the route of tram 1 between Óbuda and Népliget;
- From Angyalföld, it is worth traveling by bus 105, which runs more frequently during peak hours.
- BKK maintains the lines operating from southern Budapest that were introduced during the reconstruction of the now opened southern metro section:
- We will continue to provide enhanced operation from Pesterzsébet via Soroksári út directly to the Grand Boulevard: express bus 223M from Soroksár-Újtelep will continue to run via Pesterzsébet to Boráros tér, furthermore, from as of 2 November, express bus 23 will operate more frequently not only during peak-time and at weekends, but all day on weekdays, expanding the alternative services of the city centre.
- We will continue to provide quick access to metro line M3 from the Gloriett and Havanna residential areas (lakótelep) via Ady Endre út: the popular express bus 194M, which proved successful earlier, will run from Monday 26 October between the residential areas of District 18 and Határ út metro station.
- Instead of accessing the closed metro section, express bus 254M, which operates from the Alacskai út lakótelep and the Pestszentimre area, will run from Monday, 2 November, on the Nagykőrösi út – Illatos út – Soroksári út route to Boráros tér, by reaching the Grand Boulevard.
- From Gyál and Pestszentimre, VOLÁNBUSZ continues to provide express buses 84M, 94M and 294M directly operating to Nagyvárad tér.
- Express bus 161E continues to operate from Rákoskeresztúr between Rákoscsaba and Örs vezér tere, helping to access metro line M2.
- The expanded service offer will continue on bus lines operating from South Pest directly to Blaha Lujza tér: bus 99, which operates throughout Pesterzsébet and Kispest, will operate more frequently, and express bus 217E, which connects Pestszentlőrinc with the city centre via Gyömrői út will operate on weekday afternoons as well.
- Passengers can travel by bus 200E to Kőbánya-Kispest during the day, and to Határ út at night.
Passengers with Budapest-passes can still use MÁV-START InterCity trains, which operate in the South-Pest region, and express trains, which operate between Nyugati pályaudvar station and Kőbánya-Kispest and Ferihegy, at no extra charge. To reach the city centre, we advise our passengers coming by train from the metropolitan area to travel further to Zugló vasútállomás station or Nyugati pályaudvar station.
The traffic order of the metro replacement can be found in more detail on a map, broken down into residential areas and districts at bkk.hu/m3felujitas, under the menu item “Interactive map”.
Transport changes made for the prioritisation of metro replacement buses
From November 2020, changes are expected on the route of the metro replacement buses between the transport junctions of Váci út -Lőportár utca and Üllői út-Könyves Kálmán körút and also on the Váci út–Nyugati tér–Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út–Deák Ferenc tér–Károly körút–Astoria–Múzeum körút–Kálvin tér–Üllői út route.
- Bus lanes are established in both directions between Lőportár utca and Ferdinánd híd on Váci út, while one bus lane is opened between Csanády utca and Nyugati tér in the direction of the railway station instead of the parking lane, thus the parking spaces will be temporarily suspended. The traffic order currently in force at Nyugati tér remains unchanged.
- No entry is possible from the Grand Boulevard to the section of Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út between the boulevard and Alkotmány utca, thus motorists are able to reach Szent István körút via Podmaniczky utca. The traffic direction of Stollár Béla utca is reversed between Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út and Bihari utca, providing accessibility of the section of Markó utca connecting to Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út.
- The metro replacement services have the most significant impact on the traffic of the inner city ring: between Andrássy út and Kálvin tér, there are bus lanes in both directions, thus one lane per direction remains for other transport modes. Past St. Stephen’s Basilica on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, one traffic lane in the direction of Deák Ferenc tér is suspended, while one lane is dedicated for bus transport from Jókai tér to Erzsébet tér on Andrássy út. In addition, lane allocation is changed at the junction of Andrássy út.
- In order to provide the possibility of turning right from Károly körút to Kossuth Lajos utca and to separate metro replacement buses, on Károly körút from Gerlóczy utca, lanes are interchanged, by the help of traffic light-based traffic management: the inner lane is dedicated to bus transport while the outer lane is designated for other road users. At Astoria, on the side of Károly körút, on the section next to the tram platform, the bus lane is suspended, thus it is possible to go straight and turn right, however motorists going straight must change lanes, without interfering with bus transport. At this same spot, cyclists will have a different interval of green light. On the other side of the Astoria hub, at the junction of Múzeum körút, buses are given a different green-light interval, in order that after passengers have got on and off the buses, the buses could pass through the junction in time.
- On Múzeum körút, the outer traffic lanes are dedicated for bus transport. At Kálvin tér, one of the two lanes turning from Múzeum körút to Üllői út is designated for buses. In the junction of Vámház körút, from Lónyay utca, lane allocation is changed, with one lane remaining for going straight to Múzeum körút.
- At the beginning section of Üllői út, bus lanes are dedicated in both directions. Considering the increased passenger traffic, the pavement in the direction of the Grand Boulevard is widened, thus the straight lane from Üllői út to Kecskeméti utca and also the left lane to Vámház körút are suspended. Therefore, passengers wishing to go towards the Liberty Bridge or to District 5 are recommended to opt for the route via Közraktár utca–Csarnok tér–Vámház körút.
- On the other route sections of Üllői út, the outer lanes, including the bike lanes on Szentkirályi utca and Nagyvárad tér are dedicated for buses from 2 November.
- On 23 October, Friday, at Nagyvárad tér, the temporary bus turn is suspended and a new bus turn is established at Delej utca. Due to the suspension of the bus turn at Nagyvárad tér, two bus lanes are available again to turn left to Haller utca from Üllői út, however on Üllői út, two lanes are available for going straight. Furthermore, it is important to note that the temporary bike lanes are suspended at both Nagyvárad tér and on the route section of Üllői út to Könyves Kálmán körút.
Instead of driving on the routes affected by the replacement of metro line M3, especially Károly körút and Múzeum körút, BKK recommends that motorists avoid the city centre. Primarily, the Hungária ring road is recommended to detour the city centre and also the lower embankments are worthwhile to take into consideration. The Erzsébet híd - Kossuth Lajos utca - Rákóczi út transport axis is not affected by the metro replacement services, thus on that section the usual transport order remains in place.
What is BKK’s advice to cyclists?
From Árpád híd to Szent István körút
Coming from the direction of Árpád híd, there are several route options available to reach the Grand Boulevard: BKK recommends Moszkva sétány, the promenade along the river and the then the upper embankment in Pest. To Szent István körút, you can also ride via Párkány utca–Pannónia utca, while to Árpád híd, the Hegedűs Gyula utca–Esztergomi út route is recommended. The metro replacement buses run in the dedicated bus lanes along Váci út, therefore cycling is allowed only in the outer traffic lane.
Along the Grand Boulevard and within the area ringed by it
BKK recommends cyclists wishing to pass through the city centre to ride along the section of the Grand Boulevard between Boráros tér and Nyugati pályaudvar, which was made more bike friendly earlier this year. Going from Szent István körút to Deák Ferenc tér, we recommend the bike lane along Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út then the shared pedestrian-bike path from Alkotmány utca; another good option being the riverbank–Kossuth Lajos tér–Nádor utca–József Nádor tér route. Going from Deák Ferenc tér towards Szent István körút, the following route is recommended: Október 6. utca, Arany János utca, Hercegprímás utca, Hold utca and then Alkotmány utca to Kossuth Lajos tér.
The recommended route between Deák Ferenc tér and Kálvin tér is via Bécsi utca–Petőfi Sándor utca–Ferenciek tere–Egyetem tér. From Egyetem tér, continue along Királyi Pál utca to the square, or coming from Kálvin tér take Kecskeméti utca. Cyclists wishing to go from Kálvin tér to Ferenc körút are advised to ride on the Ráday utca–Bakáts tér–Tompa utca route instead of along Üllői út.
On the Károly körút–Múzeum körút section, the traffic alignments will be changed to facilitate the continuous operation of the replacement buses, which at the same time will reduce comfort levels for cyclists, especially in the vicinity of Astoria and Kálvin tér hubs. A further change entails the closure of the bus lanes to cyclists along Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út. Also, the majority of public space at Kálvin tér will be turned into a construction area due to metro station refurbishment, thus Baross utca becomes accessible only through a narrow section shared with pedestrians. The shared bus and bike lane along Üllői út is closed to bikes due to the service frequency of the replacement buses. Cycling is allowed only in the regular traffic lanes during the metro reconstruction period.
Beyond the Ferenc körút and József körút sections of the Grand Boulevard
Going to the city centre from Haller utca, we recommend the Tűzoltó utca–Angyal utca–Tompa utca route, while in the opposite direction take the Tompa utca–Balázs Béla utca route. Going from Haller utca to Könyves Kálmán körút, the best route to follow is Fehér Holló utca–Vágóhíd utca–Albert Flórián út. The Grand Boulevard is also accessible via the Baross utca–Kőbányai út axis. The shared bus and bike lane along Üllői út is closed to bikes due to the service frequency of the replacement buses. Cycling is allowed only in the outer traffic lanes during the metro reconstruction period.
New developments to facilitate cycling during this period are expected to be realised in the cooperation of BKK and Budapest Közút by the spring of 2021.
It is also worth going on foot between two metro stations as the walking distance between the currently closed stations is 10 minutes on the average. The map below shows walking times between stations in minutes. Those who opt for walking instead of using a car do a lot not only for air quality in the city, but also for their own health.