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Service on Budapest's subway system—locally called the metro—is inexpensive (for Western visitors, anyway), fast, and frequent (even the escalators are fast!); stations are easily located on maps and streets by the big letter "M" (for metro). Bejárat means entrance; kijárat means exit. Tickets valid on all forms of mass transportation within the boundaries of Budapest can be bought at hotels, metro stations, newsstands, and kiosks—but metro stations are least likely to run out and therefore your best bet. Metro fares are the same as bus and tram fares. Special metro-only tickets are also available in several varieties, but it's generally not worth the confusion and the minimal cost difference. Tickets must be validated in the time-clock machines in station entrances and should be kept until the end of the journey, as there are frequent checks by undercover inspectors; the fine for traveling without a ticket is 2,500 HUF plus the fare.
Line 1 (marked "földalatti"), which starts downtown at Vörösmarty tér and follows Andrássy út out past Gundel restaurant and City Park, is an antique tourist attraction in itself, built in the 1890s for the Magyar Millennium; its yellow trains with tank treads still work. Lines 2 and 3 were built 90 years later. Line 2 (red) runs from the eastern suburbs, past the Keleti (East) Railway Station, through the city center, and under the Danube to the Déli (South) station. One of the stations, Moszkva tér, is also the terminus for the Várbusz (Castle Bus). Line 3 (blue) runs from the southeastern suburbs to Deák tér, through the city center, and northward to the Nyugati (West) station and the northern suburbs. All three lines meet at the Deák tér station and run every few minutes from 4:30 am to shortly after 11 pm.
Subway cars are comfortable, though they are often so crowded during the day that you won't find a seat. Smoking is strictly prohibited anywhere within the area of the metro (generally, beyond the ticket-validating machines located above the escalators); and this rule is enforced.
BKV Customer Affairs Office (District VII, Akácfa utca 18, Around Blaha Lujza tér, Budapest. 1/258-4636. www.bkv.hu.)
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