Practical Life in Moscow

Transport in Moscow

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Moscow's magnificent public transportation system was constructed during Stalin's rule to be the "people's palaces". Gorgeous architecture, elegant design, and a lavish use of marble, mosaics, sculptures and chandeliers makes this simply a must-see stop for visitors. Two of the most interesting stations are Komsomolskaya and Novoslobodskaya. The latter is especially deep and was used as a makeshift assembly hall for a Party meeting marking the anniversary of the Revolution during the Nazi bombardments in the winter of 1941.

Moscow's Metro contains twelve lines with a total of 177 stations. The Metro is one of the deepest subway systems in the world and has the longest escalators in Europe. It is also one of world's busiest serving more than nine million passengers daily. As the population continues to expand, the Metro has big plans to grow with the city.

The metro is open from 6am to 1am. Before 7am and after 7pm the metro is rarely busy. During the busy times, there is considerable jostling. The metro is safe, but crimes like pickpocketing are common. If there appears to be danger, get in the car closest to the conductor. There are also beige boxes with a grill and a black button near doors that can be used to alert the conductor or his assistant that you are in need of help.

It is easiest to navigate the lines by referring to numbers rather then color. Signs are usually only in Russian. A single trip costs 22 rubles, independent of the length of the trip. Tickets are sold only at manned booths within the stations (kassa). There are a few stations with tickets vending machines. A multi-trip card for 10 or 20 trips (10 at 200 rubles) can be convenient. There is also an unlimited monthly pass that runs by calendar month. For more information on tickets and prices, go to the official Metro site's price list.

There is allegedly a second, secret metro constructed during the time of Stalin. It was supposedly codenamed D-6 by the KGB. This system is said to parallels the public Moscow Metro.

More convenient for those living outside of the center and in the suburbs and satellite cities is the extensive tram system. This is a system that is historically significant and maps of its many different stages can be examined. There is an elaborate route map that can be read through the use of symbols.



Buses run to a number of towns and cities within 700km of Moscow, but are also not as reliable and less comfortable than traveling by train. Fares are comparable with kupeny (2nd-class) train fares. To buy domestic tickets, go to Moscow's long-distance bus terminal, the Shchyolkovsky bus station.

There are also private bus lines:

  • Eurolines operates coach services into Moscow.
  • Rusatov Bus offers an easy to use site to find the easiest way to your destination.
  • Berlin Linien Bus (975 3309; Leningradsky vokzal) Operates a daily bus service between Berlin and Moscow (around 60 Euros, 12 hours).
  • Eurolines (975 2574 or 737 6743; Leningradsky vokzal) Offers a bus service between St Petersburg and various Western European capitals.


Russia has an elaborate train system that connects most of its major cities and Moscow is well connected through this system. Moscow is also the western terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway, which covers nearly 9,300 kilometres (5,779 mi) of Russian territory to Vladivostok on the Pacific coast.

Train tickets are relatively cheap and the usual mode of transportation for Russians, especially when departing to Saint Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city. There are long-distance and suburban trains.

  • Long-distance trains run to places at least three or four hours out of Moscow, with limited stops and a range of classes.
  • Suburban trains, known as prigorodnye poezdy or elektrichka, run to within 100km or 200km of Moscow and stop frequently. They have a single class of hard bench seats. Tickets can be purchased before the train leaves at a separate ticket hall. There is no capacity limit.

Moscow also has two passenger terminals, South River Terminal and North River Terminal (or Rechnoy vokzal).

  • The South River Terminal was built in 1985 according the design of architect A.M.Rukhlyadev. It is situated in the territory of Nagatinskiy Zaton of Moscow.
  • The North River Terminal was built in 1937 and is the main hub for long-range river routes.

There are nine other train stations, 8 of them offering long-distance and local train services (Savyolovsky Station offers local train service only).

  • Belorussky Station: Serves Smolensk, Minsk, Vilnius, Kaliningrad and, through the border crossing at Brest in Byelorussia, Warsaw, Berlin and most of the Central and Northern Europe. Metro: Belorusskaya.
  • Savyolovsky Station: Commuter trains only, to the northern suburbs and beyond. Metro: Savyolovskaya.
  • Rizhsky Station: Relatively small; serves only Riga and other Latvian destinations. Metro: Rizhskaya.
  • Leningradsky Station: Trains for northwestern and northern destinations. Serves Novgorod, Pskov, Saint Petersburg, Petrozavodsk, Murmansk, Tallinn, and Helsinki. Metro: Komsomolskaya.
  • Yaroslavsky Station: Starts out going through northeastern suburbs but then turns east. Serves Rostov Veliki, Sergiev Posad, Yaroslavl, Vologda, but mainly functions as the primary gateway for the Trans-Siberian Railway, serving several destinations in Siberia, the Russian Far East, Mongolia, and China. Metro: Komsomolskaya.
  • Kazansky Station: Southeastern direction. Serves Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Kazakhstan, Ulyanovsk and Uzbekistan. Metro: Komsomolskaya
  • Kursky Station: Actually two directions at one terminus. Southeastern branch serves Vladimir and Nizhny Novgorod, but most trains go south, through Tula, Orel, Kursk and eastern Ukraine to the Black Sea and beyond, including Adler/Sochi, the Crimea and the Caucasus. Metro: Kurskaya/Chkalovskaya.
  • Paveletsky Station: Serves Voronezh, Astrakhan, and other destinations to the South. Metro: Paveletskaya.
  • Kievsky Station: Southwesterly direction. Serves Kiev, other destinations in central and southern Ukraine and, through the border crossing at Chop, the Southern Europe destinations such as Budapest, Zagreb, Belgrade, and Sofia. Metro: Kievskaya.

These last three are all located on one huge square, informally known as the "Three Stations' Square". There are long lines to enter or exit the Metro at peak times, as people are getting off or on the commuter trains.



There are five primary commercial airports serving Moscow:

  • Sheremetyevo International Airport is the most common entry point for foreign passengers, handling sixty percent of all international flights
  • Domodedovo International Airport is the leading airport in Russia in terms of passenger throughput, and is the primary gateway to long-haul domestic and CIS destinations and its international traffic rivals Sheremetyevo's.
  • Bykovo Airport offers flights within Russia and to and from states from the former Soviet Union. This is the farthest from the center of Moscow at 35 kilometers (21 miles).
  • Ostafyevo International Airport offers flights within Russia and to and from states from the former Soviet Union
  • Vnukovo International Airport offers flights within Russia and to and from states from the former Soviet Union


In most of Russia, the difference between hailing a cab and simply hitchhiking is almost non-existent. It is an old Russian tradition for drivers to offer rides to strangers for a fee. This makes hailing a cab fairly easy no matter time of day and where you are. Hold your hand out low by your hip, not up in the air. Beware that few drivers will speak English. Normally you tell the driver where you're going, and negotiate an amount with you naming the first price. Giving the name of the closest Metro stop usually makes things easier. If riding in one of these unofficial "cabs", there is no standard practice and you ride at your own risk.

Most destinations should be reachable within the Garden Ring for 200 rubles or less, unless it's a high time (national holiday or hours when metro is not running).

Official taxis may be recognized by their checkerboard logo on the side and/or a small green light in the windscreen. Not all drivers uses a meter (even if the cab has one), and few will admit to having change. If you book a taxi over the phone (hotel staff will do this for you if you don't speak Russian), the dispatcher will normally ring back within a few minutes to provide a description and license number of the car. It's best to provide at least an hour's notice before you need the taxi.

As a general rule, it's best to avoid riding in cars with more than one person. Problems are more likely if you take a street cab waiting outside a nightclub, or a tourist hotel or restaurant at night. Women need to be particularly careful.

Taxi companies (with websites in Russian only) :


A series of channels and locks cut through Moscow to connect the Moskva River with the Volga River. This provides a waterway all the way to the Baltic Sea through the Volga-Baltic channel. Unfortunately, there is no longer scheduled passenger traffic along these routes. Raketa speed ferries were decommissioned following the 2007 season.

A river bus system is available in the warmer months. The only regular route has 7 stops, from the quay near the Kievsky rail station, downstream through the center, terminating at Novospassky bridge and back. Passenger ferries depart hourly, every day; and cost 300 rubles.


Driving in Russia is an unfiltered Russian experience. Poor roads, few signs, low-quality petrol and many highway patrolmen can make driving anywhere in Russia frustrating.

Directions to Moscow:The direct way to drive from Germany, Poland, or Bielarussia is along the E30 road. EU or American citizens have to get Belarussian visas to pass through Belarus, so the route through Latvia using the E22 road may be easier.
Access from Finland through St. Petersburg and Novgorod is along E18 road. Road from St. Petersburg to Moscow is also known as Russian Federal Highway M-10. Traffic on M-10 is heavy and driving less relaxing.

Moscow's road system is centred roughly around the Kremlin. From there, roads generally radiate outwards to intersect with a sequence of circular roads or rings. These have rotating roadblocks where teams of traffic police stop all vehicles without Moscow plates. Visitors are stopped and questioned, but cars are usually able to proceed. Foreign cars, especially expensive foreign cars, can attract unwelcome attention and more paperwork than usual.

The MKAD is one of only three freeways that run within Moscow city limits. In 1995-1997 the road was widened from the initial four to ten lanes.

  • The first and innermost major ring, Bulvarnoye Koltso (or Boulevard Ring), was built at the former location of the sixteenth century city. This ring changes street names numerous times throughout its journey across the city.
  • The second primary ring, is the Sadovoye Koltso (or Garden Ring).
  • The third ring is simply called the Third transport ring and was completed in 2003 as a high-speed freeway.
  • The fourth transport ring, another freeway, is under construction to further reduce traffic congestion. The outermost ring within Moscow is the Moscow Automobile Ring Road (often called the MKAD), which forms the approximate boundary of the city. Outside the city, some of the roads encompassing the city continue to follow this circular pattern seen inside city limits.

Driving within Moscow is complicated at best. The streets are not accommodating to the amount of drivers that troll them everyday and Moscow's exploding population has made the entire city a traffic jam. There are over 2.6 million cars in the city on a daily basis. Most roadways are also in some state of disrepair. Drivers are also aggressive and drive close together, cutting each other frequently. Taxis are by far the most aggressive vehicles, with large buses shifting in and out of their lane regardless of their surroundings.

Parking is hard to find and just as difficult to navigate as driving. Signage is spotty at best and cars may be towed because a spot that looked ok is actually illegal. Some people become very possessive of "their" spots and will disrupt any car that parks in a space that belongs to them. For serious altercations there is the GIBDD, the road police. However, this group is notoriously corrupt. The easiest and safest places to park or at your hotel (if you are staying at one). For more places to park, try parking garages.

Motor insurance in Russia is one of the most popular insurance classes among consumers, possibly due to the high amount of property crime concerning cars.

Car hire

Be aware that many firms won't let you take their cars out of the city, and others will only rent a car with a driver. A driver is not always more expensive and they can help you navigate the area and helps avoid some of the troubles foreigners have with Russian roads and police.

Most major international car-rental firms have outlets in Moscow. Advance reservations usually offer discounted prices. Prices for walk up rentals plus basic insurance are around 80 Euros per day. Major car-rental agencies will usually pick up or drop off the car at your hotel.

Tel: 578-7179
Address: Sheremetyevo-2 Airport, Arrival Hall


Tel: 783-7172

Sheremetyevo-2 Airport
Tel: 775-7565

Domodedovo Airport, Arrival Hall
Reception Desk 65
Tel: 788-0417

Leningradskoye sh., 16/9
Tel: 937-3274


Krilatskaya ul., 17, str. 3
BC "Krilatskiye Kholmi"
Tel: 956-9871

pl. Tverskoy Zastavy, 2
Tel: 232-0889

Sheremetyevo-2 Airport
Arrival Hall
Tel: 578-5646

Domodedovo Airport
Arrival Hall
Tel: 797-4672

City Map:
Road Map: or

Update 10/07/2009


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