The BKIK awards the Haltenberger Samu Lifetime Achievement Award every year as a recognition of the activities carried out for the improvement of taxi services in the capital city.
Haltenberger Samu is one of the unjustly forgotten figures in the history of Hungarian automotive industry. He played a pioneering role in motorizing the postal service and transforming the MARTA car factory in Arad. Finally, he made a lasting contribution as the leader of Szürketaxi, which is considered the predecessor of today’s Főtaxi.
Haltenberger Samu was born on February 20, 1875, in Kassa (now Košice) as the fifth child of a family of ten children who worked as a butcher. He completed his high school education in his hometown and then moved to Budapest, where he enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Royal Joseph Polytechnic University. He obtained his engineering degree on June 14, 1897. Following that, he underwent mandatory military service, which lasted until September 30, 1898.
Two weeks after being discharged, Haltenberger Samu got a job at the Hungarian Royal Post and Telegraph Directorate.
Haltenberger Samu (1875-1956)
The management of the Post was quite progressive: it caused a huge sensation in Budapest when they first employed bicycle couriers in 1895. Within the Post, experiments with motor vehicles began in 1897. Although Haltenberger Samu’s main tasks were related to telegraph and telephone services, he soon joined the small team that dealt with self-propelled cars.
From 1901, the equipment of the delivery service was expanded with motor tricycles. Two of these tricycles, based on the designs of János Csonka, were assembled at the Ganz Machine Factory, but the backbone of the fleet consisted of French Peugeot tricycles.
The next few years were a busy period in Haltenberger’s life: he got married, his first child was born, he was finalized and permanently employed at the Post, and then sent on a several-month-long European tour.
Although various individuals (Nándor Hóra, Géza Szám, and probably Donát Bánki as well) offered their own designed cars to the Post, it was not until 1904 that an official public procurement announcement was made. An essential element of the tender for the package delivery vehicles was that the Post favored domestic designs as a protective measure for local industry. Although János Csonka’s designs won, the goodwill of Haltenberger Samu and other leaders of the Post was also necessary to start the trial run of the Csonka automobile prototype on May 31, 1905, after nearly a year-long delay. Haltenberger Samu sat behind the wheel on the first journey.
From then on, automobiles played a central role in Haltenberger’s life. For example, in December 1908, he was assigned to visit the Paris Motor Show.
In 1909, Haltenberger participated in an international tour named after Prince Heinrich of Prussia, driving a Röck-made touring car, but due to a technical failure, he couldn’t complete the tour. In the same year, he was appointed as a technical expert in electrical and automotive technology by the Budapest Commercial and Exchange Court.
Haltenberger’s next major assignment was organizing the postal bus service. In 1907, a delegation visited Ferenc Kossuth, the Minister of Commerce, to promote the organization of rural transportation. In places where the railway did not reach, people and goods could only be transported by horse-drawn vehicles. Kossuth entrusted the Post with solving the issue. In early 1910, Haltenberger was sent to Germany to study the automobile operation of the Bavarian Post Directorate. After his return, he participated in establishing the postal bus network. The first route, which operated between Károlyváros (now Karlovac in Croatia) and Plitvicka, started in August 1910.
Haltenberger also received numerous state commissions: he was elected to the Automobile Department of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, and he became a member of the expert committee responsible for examining and testing drivers, among others.
In 1912, a significant turning point occurred in his life: Béla Rechnitz, the head of the Hungarian Spring Wagon Factory, asked him to take over the struggling car factory in Arad. The MARTA car factory, originally established for Westinghouse-licensed production, had fallen on the brink of bankruptcy within a few years. With the help of Haltenberger and Rechnitz utilizing all their connections, they managed to turn the company around within a year. Expansion of the operations even took place!
For example, the Hungarian Post ordered 175 postal buses, but the greatest achievement was winning the Budapest motor-powered taxi tender. After a prolonged and contentious procurement process, which was marred by personal disputes, the organized taxi service finally started in Budapest in 1913.
Haltenberger became one of the founders and later the CEO of Szürketaxi. He held the position of CEO until 1945!
The rural postal bus network ceased its operations in 1917. In the 1920s, private carriers tried to fill the void in the country with reduced territory. Finally, in 1927, at the request of the Ministry of Commerce, the Hungarian State Railways (MÁV) established its own Automotive Transport Company, the predecessor of today’s Volán. Haltenberger Samu, an experienced professional, became the executive director of MAVART (later MÁVAUT).
As a result of Haltenberger Samu’s diligent work, he received numerous accolades. He used a part of his income to purchase a house. After World War II, he worked on the reconstruction of taxi transportation.
In the changed political and economic environment, his situation became increasingly difficult. Following nationalizations, his pension was revoked, and eventually, in the summer of 1951, at the age of 76, despite his deteriorating health, he was relocated to a village in Szabolcs County, Hungary, together with his wife.
After several relocations, Haltenberger Samu passed away in Budapest in April 1956 at the age of 81.
Among the members of the City Taxi Transport Organization Cooperative, the following Colleagues won this outstanding professional recognition:
2002-ben Molnár Károly (City 965)
2003-ban Boda György (City 216)
2004-ben Tölgyesi József (City 74)
2005-ben Nagy András (City 434)
2006-ban Simon László (City 301)
2008-ban Dombai Zoltán (City 11)
2009-ben Goldstein Róbert (City 341)
2010-ben Dankó Imre (City 12)
2011-ben Kovács Károly (City 120)
2012-ben Csizmadia János (City 153)
2013-ban Balogh Sándor (City 237)
2014-ben Németh Gábor (City 916)
2015-ben Csepregi Tamás (City 691)
2016-ban Császár József (City 249)
2017-ben Gyurik Zoltán (City 779)
2018-ban Trimmel-Bauer Zoltán (City 50)
2019-ben Bordás Ernő (City 469)