If you ask me about what’s nice about living in Moscow, my answer may be surprising-the metro system. While the triumvirate of St. Basil’s Cathedral/Red Square/the Kremlin are the stereotypical images people think of upon hearing “Moscow,” the metro is just as significant. Carrying an average of a staggering seven million (by contrast, the population of my home state of Virginia is eight million) passengers daily over a total of 200 stations*, it is a model of efficiency. Compared to the erratic, unclean, and often late D.C. metro, it is nice that waiting time generally tends to be about two to three minutes maximum. Since I arrived on the hallowed ground of the Russian capital, I’ve stumbled across a fair amount of articles highlighting the gorgeous architecture of individual stations-they’re absolutely correct! Off the top of my head, I believe the designers were given a solid amount of leeway in designing the stations, which, several years later, passengers are thankful for.
However, some things may be a bit confusing for visitors, so this post intends to offer some advice.
- While there has been a recent movement to provide more English-language announcements (offered mainly on the purple line), the extent of tourist-friendly signs is just the English transliteration of the stops. These signs can be found at the top of the metro wagons, meaning you have to already know either the stop you want or be able to read Cyrillic.These signs can be hard to read during rush hour, but thankfully there are maps of the entire metro system in each wagon.
- Compared to back home, tickets are cheap. For instance, 20 trips costs 650 rubles (= $8.50), and you can purchase 40 and 60 trips, and a Troika card (which can have trips added on) too; these cards also work for the buses and trams! Making life even easier is the fact that as long as you don’t leave the metro, your trip is valid-one could literally visit every single metro stop on a single swipe.
- There’s a decent amount of stations that interchange with each other (i.e. going from one line to another), so switching between, say the dark blue and light green, will add a few extra minutes to your trip. Plan accordingly.
- Kitai-Gorod station is unique when transferring, which can cause issues if you’re not paying attention. It is in the center of the city, and the purple and orange lines run through it. However, it strays from having north/southbound trains on the same platform, and instead has the orange line on one side and the purple on the other. While there is an announcement while arriving, don’t assume that a certain platform will be on the line you want.
- Finally, Yandex Metro is your savior. The app, for both Android and iOS, is constantly updated to reflect closures, as well as providing accurate estimates for arrivals and multiple routes to destinations. If you’re planning on visiting both Moscow and St. Petersburg, this should be one of the first things you download.
*The newest station is Salaryevo, which opened three days ago on February 15th.