The last models of the famous Ikarus 200 bus type will be decommissioned soon. This legendary type has been roaming the streets of Budapest since the ’70s. This is an outstanding achievement for such a vehicle; we might even call it a world record. This bus type was one of, if not the most important type in the world at some time in history. Let’s see where it all began and how it will end.
Fifty years of service for a bus is an incredible time. Technically, there is no single bus in circulation that was still produced in the 1970s, but we can still see some of them around. The Budapest Transport Privately Held Corporation (BKV) would purchase the 200-type buses until 1993. But even long after, new or second-hand buses still arrived in Budapest to serve the public. Over the years, these were modernised. However, even in 2021, there were buses that were more than 30 years
In the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), the Soviet Union’s economic bloc, Hungary was given the right to produce buses. This happened in 1963, after which Ikarus started producing economical but modern buses. The result was the Ikarus 200 series. According to Pestbuda.hu, this series turned out to be so good, that no other model was needed. This was of course not beneficial for the Ikarus company after the fall of the Soviet Union.
This type became so important in major markets like the Soviet Union or East Germany, that they refused to buy any newer bus types. However, the success of the bus was not limited to the Eastern Bloc. The Ikarus 200 series made its way to Western Europe and even to North America. In the 1980s, the Ikarus 280 type made up three-quarters of the world’s bus production.
Why was it so successful?
The revolutionary feature of the series was the variability of the base design. Forty different types of buses belonged to the Ikarus 200 series. Among these, we could find regular, articulated, short- or long-distance and even luxury buses too.
The large capacity of the bus was also advantageous in the growing cities. Prior to this design, the other bus types were barely able to handle the number of passengers. Then came the Ikarus 260 and the articulated 280, the latter of which became the most-produced bus type in the entire world. The first ones were introduced in the city of Budapest in 1972. The regular version could transport 76, while the articulated version could transport 148 passengers.
Nonetheless, everything has to come to an end. The half-century-long career of the Ikarus 200-type buses will end in 2022. But we will be able to see them in museums and in the form of nostalgia rides.
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