This section provides information on the Moscow metro (map, ticket purchase and navigation), basic information about the ground public transport, as well as tips on how to use it.
The Moscow metro is a key part of the city’s public transport system. Today it has 203 stations on 12 lines (11 radial lines and a circular one) connecting all districts of Moscow. On average, the metro transports 7 million people a day, but during peak days the passenger traffic may reach 9-10 million. One characteristic feature of the Moscow subway system is that most of its lines intersect only in the middle area of the map, which extends travel time from one part of the city to another and overloads the central stations. The most important line of all is Koltsevaya (‘circular’, coloured brown on the map). Running roughly along the radius of Moscow’s Garden Ring, it encircles the central part of the city and provides transfers to and from all radial lines. Most railway stations, including all three stations that service high-speed Aeroexpress trains (Kievsky, Paveletsky and Belorussky) are located near the stations of Koltsevaya line.
Moscow underground map
Since 2016 the Central Ring has appeared – ground trains, connecting 14 subway metro stations and 6 commuter train stations. Transfer from the Central ring to metro stations is free of charge. This project is very important for the city’s transport infrastructure. It allows to solve the main problem of the Moscow metro – the need to pass on the Koltsevaya Line to move from one suburb to another, even to a neighboring one. During peak hours trains on the the Central ring run every 6 minutes, during the rest of the time – every 12 minutes on the average/
The Moscow metro has no travel zones or other internal restrictions: if you buy a ticket for 1 ride you can travel in all directions all day long (without leaving the metro). The cost of a single ride is 55 rubles. Each station along with ticket counters has electronic kiosks with English-language interface selling tickets for 1 or 2 rides. The kiosks are really easy to use. If you plan to travel by metro a lot, you can purchase a ticket for 5 or more rides or an unlimited pass for 1 day or longer, which would make each ride significantly cheaper. To do this, learn how to say the number of rides in Russian or write it down on paper and show at the ticket counter. Visit http://troika.mos.ru/en/tariffs/ for more details.
The Moscow subway stations are open for entry from 5:30 am to 1:00 am next day. At many stations with two or more exits some of them may be closed early in the morning or late in the evening. Transfers between stations close at 1:30. The average interval between trains is 2-3 minutes ranging from 1 min (during rush hour on priority lines) to 7-8 mins (late at night on secondary routes).
Station entrances are protected with metal detectors; there are police officers on duty at each station. If you have some oversized baggage, be prepared for a closer inspection.
Taxi is the most comfortable way to get to the city center from any Moscow sights. To learn how Moscow taxi works, please, visit our website page “Taxi in Moscow”.
METRO AS AN ARCHITECTURAL LANDMARK
The first station of the Moscow metro was opened in 1935 when the country was run by Joseph Stalin. During the first decades of the metro construction, in the Soviet period, the Communist Party found it important to demonstrate its maximum technological and architectural potential both to Muscovites and to those visiting the capital, and to impress visitors of the Moscow metro by giving each station a unique appearance and dedicating it to some memorable event or a prominent figure. Because of this, the Moscow metro, especially its central stations, is among the world’s unique monuments of architecture with 44 stations included in the cultural heritage list. The metro is an absolute must-see for any tourist coming to Moscow.
NAVIGATION AND TIPS
Travelling in the Moscow underground is quite comfortable, except some of its central stations get crowded during peak hours (those on the circular line and within its limits that provide transfers to other lines). Navigation without the knowledge of Russian has its own peculiarities:
• metro maps are available at each station and inside each train car, and generally have a word for word translation into English;
• floor signs indicating the direction of transfers and exits are duplicated in English;
• hanging sings showing the exits are, instead, in the Russian language only. That is, if a station has two or more exits, you need to be able to read in Russian in order to understand what street or object an exit leads to;
• hanging and wall signs indicating where the trains on each side of the platform are bound for are also only in Russian. So, if you can’t read Russian you won’t understand which side of the platform to choose in order to get to the desired station;
• on each train the next stop voice announcement in Russian is made twice: first upon leaving the previous station, and once again – just before arriving.
Hence our tips for navigating:
• remember the colour and the number of the line that leads to your desired station. All hanging transfer signs show line colours and numbers. Moscow residents normally use line colors instead of their long official names;
• look for the floor signs to find directions in English. This will help you find your way to a different line or locate an exit to the surface;
• Kievskaya, Belorusskaya and Paveletskaya metro stations have floor tiles with graphic train symbols pointing towards exits to the respective railway stations. Each of the three railway stations has a high-speed Aeroexpress train service to one of Moscow’s international airports;
• plan your route and write down the Cyrillic names of objects (stations, streets, museums) you want to see. This will help you visually sort out Russian signs when choosing the right exit and the right path;
• carry a metro map in English and Russian languages (not just in English!). This will help you with the transliteration of various names. Download an app to your smartphone;
• some trains have electronic displays that are placed over the car doors and make visual announcements of the next station in English. But, surprisingly, what they show can be misleading!
Five metro stations near the Kremlin and transfer corridors between them are posted with detailed maps of the district showing top sights and attractions, and exits that lead to them. You may find these maps quite useful.
1. Free Wi-Fi Internet is available in metro cars. To connect your device to the wireless network you’ll be requested to enter your phone number (from any country) and then the code sent to your phone in a text message. The Wi-Fi connection is not available out on the platforms.
2. Watch out for pickpockets!
3. Stopping locations of car doors are, with rare exceptions, not marked on platforms. Passengers first go out, then in.
4. Average estimated ride duration: 3 minutes per station plus 5 minutes per each change of line.
6. All stations of the Moscow metro are equipped with emergency call points (see below). They have a panic button, as well as a metro map with English translation.
7. The busiest hours for the metro are from 8:00 to 9:30 and from 17:30 to 19:00. During these periods, travelling through central stations may give you a rough time. Firstly, you’d be moving slowly, pressed hard by the crowd from all sides, with each change of line taking up to 5-10 minutes; secondly, it may be unsafe (pickpockets here are quite active); thirdly, in heavy traffic you may be unable to see English-language floor signs, which will make it more difficult for you to navigate your way around.
8. Many station lobbies have cash machines (ATMs).
ABOVE-GROUND PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
We strongly recommend that you avoid using any public transport in Moscow other than the metro if you don’t speak Russian and do not know the city well enough. There are over 800 routes and 12,000 stops of municipal ground transport in Moscow (i.e. city buses, trolleybuses and trams), and each route has its own individual schedule (waiting time can vary from 7 to 30 minutes and transport on a certain route can operate 24 or just 16 hours a day). Navigation and stop announcements are only in Russian. Even locating the bus stop you need and finding your way to it from a metro station might be problematic.
It’s true that compared to taxis, public transport can save you some money, but the inconveniences and the risk of getting lost outweigh the potential saving. Another issue with above-ground transportation is Moscow traffic. During peak hours the speed of traffic may drop to 10-15 km/h.
Scheduled above-ground public transport (buses, trolleybuses and trams) running in Moscow and the Moscow Region is city-owned; bus fares and rules of operation are regulated by the city government. You can purchase tickets from a driver, in ticket booths or automated ticket terminals at bus stops. The cost of one ride from a driver is 50 rubles. If you buy a ticket for 5 or more rides, each of them will cost you around 20-25 rubles. Learn more at http://troika.mos.ru/en/tariffs/
A few rules:
1. Passengers use the front door to get on and other doors to get off.
2. Tickets are validated in a turnstile-terminal or a validating machine installed inside the bus at the entrance to the passenger compartment.
3. On some routes you are supposed to signal a driver to stop by pressing the call button located on the handrail near the exit.
4. Fare collectors work on buses. The fine for riding without a ticket is 1000 rubles. This fine is paid only in a bank; cash payment to a collector will not be valid and is prohibited by law.
More information about the fares, routes and rules is available at http://www.mosgortrans.ru/ (in Russian only). More information on fares and ticket types for all kinds of public transport can be found at http://troika.mos.ru/en/tariffs/ (in Russian and English).
Another means of transport, one that Russians call ‘marshrutka’, is worth a separate note. Marshrutkas are numerous minibuses with 15-20 seats running on fixed routes mainly in dormitory districts of Moscow in addition to full-sized municipal transport. These are privately owned. The fare is usually around 30-40 rubles; it is paid in cash to the driver at the time of boarding. The two main advantages of marshrutkas are speed and frequency (they depart as soon as they are full). Downsides — they are overcrowded, you need to know your route and tell the driver in a timely manner when to stop and drop you off.
TROLLEYBUS AS A CHANCE TO EXPLORE THE CITY
Trolley route Б (which sounds like the English ‘B’) goes along the Garden Ring (in Russian sounds like Sadovoye Koltso) of Moscow; it operates around the clock and has no final stop. Letters Бкр (‘Bkr’) on a trolleybus mean that it follows the inner radius of the Ring; letters Бч (‘Bch’) mean it goes along the outer radius. A ride on this trolleybus may present you with an unexpected opportunity to take it slow and thoroughly enjoy the beautiful views of this modern city through panoramic windows. A city tour like this would be particularly exciting at night or on the weekend, when there is no heavy traffic. Making the full circle around the Garden Ring will take you about an hour.
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