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Hungary

Transportation and Telecommunications

Figure 7. Transportation System, 1989

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Train station in Csopak
Courtesy Gustav Forster

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Bus station in Mezokovesd
Courtesy Sam and Sarah Stulberg

The nation's transportation and communications systems were highly centralized because of Budapest's importance as the capital and principal urban center (see fig. 7, Transportation System, 1989). Like other East European countries, Hungary redirected much of its transport system after World War II to accommodate a dramatic increase in trade with the Soviet Union. Despite the fact that transportation employed about 14 percent of the total work force in the late 1980s, transportation delays were frequent.

Hungary began constructing the main lines of its railroad system between 1850 and 1900 in order to link Budapest with other major cities. In 1986 this system consisted of 7,769 kilometers of rail lines, of which 1,128 kilometers were double tracked. Diesel and electric locomotives have replaced steam engines, and the length of electrified track almost tripled between 1970 and 1986, reaching about 25 percent of the system. The country's two rail-transport enterprises employed about 134,000 workers in 1986. The railroads carried about 119 million tons of freight in 1986, about 20 percent of which were coal and other fuels; they also carried 232,920 passengers. The system improved its fuel consumption per ton-kilometer from 1,235 kilojoules in 1970 to 322 in 1986.

In the late 1980s, Hungary's 140,163 kilometers of roadway, 21 percent of which were paved with asphalt or concrete, carried a greater volume of freight than the railroad. The country's sixty-six truck and bus fleets carried 4.5 million passengers and 572 million tons of goods in 1986 and employed 122,000 workers. In 1986 the nation's truck and bus fleets totaled 163,151 and 25,920 trucks and buses, respectively, more than double their size in 1970; passenger automobiles numbered 1,538,900, including 1,500,800 private automobiles. Hungary has modernized its road system since 1950, but the roads were still inadequate to handle the country's increasing number of private automobiles and heavier domestic and international truck traffic.

The Danube formed the largest part of Hungary's 1,622 kilometers of navigable waterway. The principal port was Budapest's Csepel free port. Dunauvaros was also an important port. In 1986 Hungary's fleet included 52 passenger boats, 41 tugboats, 236 barges, and 15 seagoing ships. The river transport system carried 3.4 million tons of cargo and 4.1 million passengers, most of whom were tourists.

The national airline, MALEV, flew twenty-four aircraft on forty-one international routes in 1986, carrying 1.2 million passengers and 16,372 tons of cargo. Hungary discontinued domestic air transport in 1969. Several major Western airlines flew into Budapest's Ferihegy Airport, which in 1986 recorded 18,025 takeoffs and departures and served 2.3 million passengers.

A 5,604-kilometer pipeline network linked Hungary's main oiland natural gas-producing centers with Budapest and other major cities. The system transported 20.2 million tons of oil and natural gas in 1986. In the mid-to late 1980s, Hungary annually received about 1.2 billion cubic meters of Soviet natural gas through the two Friendship pipelines and an additional 4 billion through the Alliance pipeline. In 1986 Hungary and the Soviet Union began negotiations on Hungary's participation in the construction of what was to be the longest natural gas pipeline in the world. Planners projected completion by 1990.

In the late 1980s, Hungary continued to suffer from a severe shortage of telephone lines. In 1986 the country had 770,200 telephones, including 524,600 private telephones, which gave it about 145 telephones per 1,000 persons, an increase of 46 percent since 1975. Despite this increase, the average wait for the installation of a telephone was about fifteen years. Telephone possession was one of the clearest indicators of class distinctions in Hungary. A 1983 study showed that only 6 percent of Hungary's unskilled and semiskilled workers had a telephone, while 40 percent of professionals had them. The telephone system did not have the capacity to accommodate computer telecommunications. In the late 1980s, Hungary had two television channels, and it issued more than 2.9 million television licenses in 1986. Licenses to purchase radios were not required after 1980.

Data as of September 1989


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