As one of the most progressive cities in the world, Moscow provides lots of options for public transportation, which you can easily choose when you arrive in this historical capital city. But, as the saying goes, “better safe than sorry”; carefulness is something that you can’t just leave at home. Pack it in your bag and carry it along your journey!
No matter how sophisticated the city is or how developed the country is, a review from someone who has already been to the country is always worth a read, right? Especially in this era, when you can access any kind of information via the internet.
So, here is the list of available transport in Moscow, along with my opinion about them.
Bus and Trolleybus (Troika for Moscow Region and Strelka for suburban areas)
Moscow has a handful of buses that depart every 5-10 minutes to almost all directions, including to suburban areas and other cities around the capital. They will pick the passengers up at the bus stops and go directly, without caring about how many passengers are inside. I find this method both good and surprising - preferable to, for example, Indonesia, where all drivers will wait patiently till they have loaded all the passengers they could find, until there is no breathing space between passengers and we are suffocated because the bus is too full.
There are two types of buses in Moscow; Trolleybus and normal bus. You can check the routes carefully on the available timetable at the bus stops. Normally they are written in Cyrillic.
To be honest, I never use the bus in Moscow. I use it enough to get from my town to the center, so I don’t want to waste my time trapped in the traffic, especially during rush hour.
I have been living in Moscow for about 5 years but I have not tried yet the monorail. Oh, how come? That’s all because my town is located far far away from the center, and you can catch the monorail ONLY from VDNKh, Fonvizinskaya, and Timiryazevskaya metro stations. The people who use this public transport method are mostly tourists, as this train passes many Moscow sites such as VDNKh and Ostankino Tower.
The train is a simple way to reach suburban areas or even to go to the airport and other cities outside of Moscow. The price is quite friendly, as usual, except when you buy the Trans-Siberian Railway Ticket or Sapsan (high speed electric express train) - that’s another thing, but let’s forget about it and back to the topic.
The appearance of the trains is also devastating in some contexts. Some of them look modern but as you enter, you will feel deceived by what you’ve judged from its cover, whereas some of the others look pathetic (and in this case you won’t give any initial judgement), and the last type, the one that you’ll see mostly in the center, especially after the grandiose event such as the FIFA World Cup: new wagons, with comfortable seats, clean, and quite fast.
The advantage of using the train in Moscow is you won’t get stuck in a traffic jam.
Taxi (Cash and sometimes Visa, MasterCard)
Although Uber and Yandex Taxi exist in Moscow to simplify our lives, you still need to be very attentive when choosing a taxi. Don’t ever try an ‘illegal taxi’ from one of the unreliable companies that will bleed you dry. As you might read from other sources, Russian taxis are infamous for their scams. The method which the scammers use is very simple: they tell you the price, bring you to the destination, and overcharge you. So, make sure you only use Yandex Taxi or Uber. There is no need to have a new adventure in Moscow, especially if you don’t speak Russian.
Tramvay or trolleys are available in the city. They won’t take you to suburban areas, but, as I know, it is quite comfortable, cheap, and fast compared to a taxi or travelling by foot. Here is the map of the trolleys:
Metro or Subways (Troika)
The metro in Moscow offers not only the most convenient way to reach your destination, but also some attractions. Every metro station here has its own history, design, and uniqueness. In other words, you will not find the same design between one station and another. And don’t forget the metro stations in Moscow were built deep down the earth (the deepest one is about 200 meters) because they are located close to the rivers.
It’s forbidden to take too many pictures inside the stations unless you are in a tour group with a permit.
Map of the metro:
Moscow Central Circle (MCC) (Troika)
The Moscow Central Circle is a 54-kilometer long railway that opened one or two years ago. By riding the MCC that goes circular around the center, you can visit many city sights and, of course, easily change to Metro or Subways. It departs every 5-10 minutes and closes earlier than the Metro.
Marshrutka (route taxi) (Cash)
There are two types of Marshrutka that you can find in Moscow: the official one with the routes stated on the window or the unofficial one for going to suburban areas. I could say this as unofficial because they never mention where they go as clearly as the official ones. You will get full information if you ask the drivers, but make sure that you don’t take the wrong car.
How to pay for the journey?
To minimise the time and to reduce the cost, I want to introduce you to some cards that can be used for your trip in Moscow.
Multi-fare passes a.k.a Unified Travelcard can be used on surface transport, such as bus, trolley bus, tram, and also Metro and monorail. They are available for a 24-hour journey, three days, or a week. The prices are about 210, 400 and 800 roubles respectively. Please check this site for more information about the tariffs: https://www.mos.ru/en/news/item/31475073/
For Muscovites but also for tourists
Most Muscovites, including myself, and also some tourists planning to stay in Moscow more than a week, opt to use these cards, which are not only cheap but also more flexible than the ones used by tourists.
TROIKA: the card that depicts three horses running together, dominated by turquoise, is the must-have card for any visit to Moscow. The card can be used for paying your journey on the METRO, BUS, AND TROLLEY.
The good news is that by using this card, you will get a discount for your trip. For example, one trip on the Metro will cost only 35 roubles (or 32 roubles) if you use this card. If you buy a one-way ticket, it will cost around 50 roubles.
STRELKA: this card can only be used when you take a trip to a suburban area. You can use it for TRAINS, and some buses to suburban areas.
Have a great time in Moscow!