The full name of the ubiquitous marshrutka is “marshrutnoe taxi” – basically, “taxi with a route.” These privately-owned minibuses combine the low rates and set routes of a bus with the faster speed and more flexible stops of a taxi. Marshrutkas are often the best bet for trips to the suburbs of Moscow and, for budget travelers, the best-value to get to and from the Domodedovo airport (although it can be crowded with all of the baggage).
Most marshrutkas are 8-12 seat Ford Transits or Russian Gazelles, with a growing number of Mercedes 15-seat mini-buses, which have higher roofs. They follow a fixed route, which may or may not differ from a municipal bus route. The main stops of the route are identified by a paper sign in the front (or occasionally side) window, in Russian. Centralized route information is not available.
Marshrutkas run from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m., as does most public transportation in Moscow. Intervals are quite frequent – 5 to 15 minutes – during peak hours and taper off towards evenings. They are not posted anywhere and will be learned with experience.
While marshrutkas tend to congregate at official bus stops, they will stop anywhere along their route. To catch one, signal from the side of the road, just as you might hail a taxi. If there is space on the bus, it will stop for you. To get off, request your stop loudly and clearly as your destination comes into sight.
Fares vary according to the route and are posted inside the minibus. It ranges from 25 to 40 RUR. Like all modes of public transport, the fare is the same whether you travel from start to finish or just for a couple of hundred meters.
You normally pay the driver once in your seat. The passenger directly behind the driver becomes responsible for passing fares and change back and forward.
Moscow’s 75-year old trolley bus system is the world’s largest, with 1,600 vehicles and 87 routes. Routes are named using letters. Trolleys, trams, and buses use the same ticket system. Tickets can be bought in single fares (22 RUR) or booklets of ten (200 RUR) from kiosks and metro stations. You can also purchase tickets directly from the driver for 25 RUR. As with buses, don’t expect the driver to have the correct change.
Trolley stops are designated by a sign marked ‘Tp’. They generally run from 6:00 to 1:00 a.m. The actual times of first and last service for each route, as well as frequency of intervals, are displayed in Russian on yellow boards at each stop. Routes are typically displayed on maps in bus stop shelters. Centralized information on trolley routes is not readily available. A useful route is the ‘B’ route, which runs continuously round the Boulevard Ring in both directions.
Entry to most trolleys is through an electronic tourniquet, similar to the metro. Insert your ticket into the ticket slot. The ticket is processed and returned to you within about 2 seconds. You must take the ticket back before you can progress through the tourniquet.
Etiquette requires you get on trolleys through the front door, and off through the rear door.
The majority of Moscow’s tramlines – which cover a total distance of 415 km – are found in the outskirts of the city. They are most useful for travel to the suburbs. Stops are designated by a “T” sign above the rails.
Some city tramlines use the same tickets you can purchase for buses. Tickets can be bought in single fares (22 RUR) or booklets of ten (200 RUR) from kiosks and metro stations. You can also purchase tickets directly from the driver for 25 RUR although the driver may not be able to change a big note forcing you to over pay or get off.
Tickets for out-of-town tramlines are best purchased at the station from which they depart. Fares are based on the distance traveled and range for 15 RUR to 113 RUR.
Up-to-date information about routes, including full schedules, is available in English at http://tram.ruz.net/routes/routes.htm
The famous in-city ‘A’ route, known affectionately as ‘Annushka’ by Muscovites, has been partially revived, and is a tourist attraction in its own right. The route includes the eastern section of the Boulevard Ring, from Chistye Prudy Metro Station to the river, then continues through the old Zamoskvarechye district, passes the Danilov Monastery and the Shukhov Radio Tower, and eventually ends up at Oktyabrskaya Metro Station, a short walk from Gorky Park. The trams that run on the route have a distinctively retro design.