The transportation system during the Soviet period was organized in the form of vertically integrated monopolies controlled by the central government. Thus, for example, the same administrative agency owned and operated the airports, airlines, and enterprises that manufactured aircraft.
The metro is the most popular form of transport in the capital – the Moscow metro system serves 7 million passengers a day. The St Petersburg system serves 2 million, a lot of people considering the network only has five lines. As well as Moscow and St Petersburg there are underground metro systems in Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Samara and Yekaterinburg.
Overground transport can be daunting in Russia but in recent years the competition between public and private companies running the bus services have made it more efficient and cheaper. A lack of centralised organisation has, however, rendered it difficult to find information regarding timetables online, so it is best just to check at the bus stops. Using buses is an excellent way to get a feel for where you are, it allows you to see places that the metro doesn’t reach.
Bus tickets in Moscow can be bought on the bus, but the driver will rarely give you change, so be prepared to overpay. Alternatively if you are planning to stay for a while, buying a book of tickets will be more cost effective as the more tickets you buy the cheaper each one costs. These can be bought at kiosks with the sign “proezdnyue bilety”; they are usually situated just inside or outside the metro stations. In St Petersburg, however, bus fares are paid to the conductor on the the bus.
You cannot hail a cab off the street in Russia, they have to be called in advance. Fares are not measured on a meter so it is important to agree on a price when booking or before setting off. Foreigners will often incur a higher starting rate, so it is a good idea to know approximately how much your journey should cost. It shouldn’t cost more than 500 rubles to get from one side of a city to the other. However, factoring in the fact than non-Russian speakers will probably pay a premium, this could double to 1,000 rubles.
Taxi drivers in Russia rarely speak English so it would be a good idea to get a local to book your taxi or to write down your destination in Russian for you.