The city gets a public transport makeover

One of the impetuses for me to start this blog was the wave of recent changes in Moscow, specifically in infrastructure. From the slew of metro station openings that have carried over from the past two years and are still on-going, to the new tourist information hotline, to the new metro map design, the Russian capital is making itself over to be friendlier to residents and visitors alike. And in the last two months, there have been not one, not two, but three major changes that attempt to improve the city’s overloaded transport situation.

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

A) The new all-in-one Troika card for public transport

Moscow’s public transport has historically differed from most major European cities in that a ticket for one form of transport does not carry over to another within a certain timeframe, usually 90 minutes — transfer from the metro to the bus or tram for free, or at a reduced rate. Instead, you have to buy a ticket for 28 rubles with each new form of transport that you board on a single trip.

Although with monthly transport passes, residents have an option for unlimited rides on all public transport. But getting a transport pass is not an option available to most visitors.

Photo credit: RIA Novosti, Maksim Blinov

Troika is based on London’s Oyster card and similar to Shanghai and Beijing’s transport cards in that passengers put down a small deposit in order to enjoy reduced fares. And as of June 1, there is even a “90 Minute” fare where you can transfer from the metro to an unlimited number of buses, trams or trolleybuses within a 90-minute period, for only 44 rubles. The best part is that this fare activates automatically over the usual 28-ruble single fare (26 rubles for non-metro) when you transfer. I haven’t encountered such an automatic fare in Europe yet… pretty nifty, Moscow!

Plus, unlike with the old disposable single tickets, now I’ll have a souvenir to keep in my wallet to remind me of this city even when I’m away 🙂

B) Paid parking

This one is a pretty big deal and probably has a lot of non-locals scratching there head — huh? What do you mean paid parking is new? Isn’t that standard for major world cities?

Well yes, that’s exactly what I thought too. And with Muscovites complaining about the city’s infamous traffic jams, often due to Range Rovers improperly parked half on the street and half on the sidewalk, I thought paid parking would be an effective (not to mention profitable for the city) solution. I even wrote a comment stating as such on a forum and someone responded to me, “But Moscow is not like Europe!”

Well whaddya know, it’s arrived! And the results are pretty dramatic:

Photo credit: Ilya Varlamov
Photo credit: Ilya Varlamov

I don’t know if the emptiness on many streets is related to the paid parking, but it sure is nice for a change.

The only minus is that some of the signs are positioned rather low, around 170 cm, so if you’re built tall, perhaps like many readers of, then watch out on those Moscow sidewalks!

Photo credit: Ilya Varlamov
Photo credit: Ilya Varlamov

C) City bike-sharing

And rounding out our transport trifecta, we finally have a city bike-sharing program! Many Muscovites say that this is long overdue and indeed, many major world cities already have one.

UPD: My friend sent me a good article by the New York Times on how this bike-share system is the fruit of political activism.

Bank of Moscow is the sponsor as you can see:

Photo credit: Ilya Varlamov
Now visiting hipsters can easily score their own swag on two wheels. Photo credit: Ilya Varlamov

The system started working on 31 May and had their busiest day so far on Saturday, 1 June, when 1,500 people used its bikes. As you can see, the bike stations are mostly positioned along the inner ring.

Screen shot 2013-06-04 at 11.52.44 PM

Four bikes have already been stolen and 15 sent for repair, sparking a common discussion among Russians of whether it is worth building a nice communal service since vandals always seem to ruin things.

I was planning to get a bike in Moscow, but this may be a better solution.

What do you guys think of all these changes? What infrastructure would you like to see next in Moscow?

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