Getting Around in Moscow

Moscow is a city of over 12 million people, and expats will likely find the metropolis to be plagued by constant traffic jams and congestion. Apart from the delays experienced while driving, rush hour within the public transport system can also be crowded and uncomfortable.

That being said, the Moscow metro is one of the most beautiful in the world and expats in the city will have access to a range of additional options for getting around. 


Public transport in Moscow

Metro

The Moscow Metro opened in 1935 with one 6.8 mile (11km) line and 13 stations. Since then, it has become the fastest and most efficient way of getting around in Moscow. Despite the merits of its usability, however, expats certainly will find travelling on the metro to be an interesting experience.

Travel is cheap and the trains are fast, clean and on time. Maps are available with the station names spelled out in the Latin alphabet that English-speakers are used to. Before taking the metro, one will need to be sure of the route necessary for the journey as stations can be enormous and are often interconnected by underground passages. This can involve long walks up and down many escalators to get to the correct platform and line colour.

Stations are open from 5.30am until 1am. The final train does not allow passengers to make transitions from one line to another.

Buses, trolleys and trams

When the metro cannot connect with where one needs to go, buses, trams and trolleybuses provide a comfortable alternative for getting around Moscow. These modes of transit don't always run on the advertised timetable and the average waiting period is generally longer than that of the metro, ranging from five minutes to 40 minutes in the evenings.

The bus stops are yellow plates marked with "A" signs; trolleys are designated by white plates with "T"; and trams with "Tp". There are no night buses, trolleys or trams, and trams do not run in the most central parts of the city.

Buses, trams and trolleys usually all follow the same pricing. Ticket purchases can be made within metro stations, at bus kiosks or directly from the driver.  

Minibus shuttles (marshrutka)

Minibus shuttles, or marshrutka, are smaller than buses and generally get around much faster than their larger counterparts. These shuttles bear the same numbers as the buses and trolleys and travel the same routes. To get on an approaching marshrutka, just wave it down like an ordinary taxi. 


Taxis and ride-sharing services

In Moscow, any private vehicle can operate as a taxi. If hailed like a regular taxi, many drivers will stop their cars to pick up passengers. It is best to negotiate the fare before getting into the car as locals might look to take advantage of foreigners. Bargaining is commonplace.

It is generally considered a safer option to use 'official taxis'. There are numerous taxi companies in Russia, some of which have English-speaking drivers. Uber and other ride-sharing services are also readily available in Moscow and other Russian cities. 


Walking in Moscow

As long as the weather isn't too icy and the distance one needs to cover isn't too vast, getting around Moscow on foot is a viable option for expats. Downtown Moscow, with its compact design and beautiful, historical architecture, is especially pedestrian-friendly. Expats should, however, exercise caution when walking through the more run-down areas of the city, especially late at night. 


Driving in Moscow

Expats considering driving in Moscow should carefully weigh up the pros and cons. As previously mentioned, traffic jams can be monstrous and navigating the city's ring roads can be difficult.

Russians are fond of making dangerous manoeuvres behind the wheel, and the police are notorious for extracting fines for small driving offences. Furthermore, winter weather can make for slick streets and less than ideal driving conditions. This has prompted many expats to hire a driver instead of attempting to drive themselves around Moscow.

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