Subway is a key mean of public transportation in Moscow. If you have to commute, subway probably is the only way of getting to work and back, unless you do not mind spending hours in traffic. Many foreigners living in Moscow omit using subway – for a number of different reasons. Some expats and short term visitors are just afraid to use Moscow subway. Below are few things about Moscow subway to encourage you to give it a try. Millions of Russians use it daily, why can’t you?
Moscow subway is very efficient. It covers most parts of the city and you can get almost anywhere by subway. There are few areas not served by subway, but the system develops rapidly and new stations open every year. In addition, in September 2016 railroad ring line was opened, which technically is not part of the subway system, but it connects many subway stations, making convenient transfers and shortening travel time.
Moscow subway is fast. Trains ride every 40 seconds to 2 minutes depending on the line in peak hours. In non-peak hours waiting time is somewhere between 2 to 5 minutes. Distances between most stations are quite long, especially outside ring line, but trains ride at a high speed, so Moscow subway gets you to your destination really fast.
Stations are large and spacious. Stairs are wide, passages and hallways on most stations are capable of carrying heavy passenger traffic. There are bottlenecks however, mostly escalators on some stations.
Moscow subway is very clean. Train cars are clean both inside and outside, stations are very clean and premises outside stations are clean too. In the past years many station entrance areas were rebuilt or renovated, so they look brand new.
Some stations have unique and distinctive historical design. Many people call Moscow subway “the world’s most beautiful subway”. This is subjective though, but it is true that many stations look like palaces with stunning decoration. Most of the design and decoration comes from soviet era, so subway decor resembles communist themes and ideas of art. New stations boast contemporary design, which by all means is good. There are guided tours available to experience art of Moscow subway.
Moscow subway is safe, especially if you follow very basic safety rules. All stations are patrolled by the police. Every corner is under video surveillance. There are x-ray machines and metal detectors on every entrance. There are patrol dogs on duty to search for dangerous things.
Moscow subway is very affordable. Single ride does not depend on distance and costs bargain compared to subways cost in other world capitals. If you buy a monthly ticket or a butch of trips, it will cost you even cheaper than a single trip. Different types of tickets available to suite different travel needs and reduce costs if you need to get to your destination using subway and ground transportation.
Station names announced loudly and clearly - in Russian and English. In newer cars special screens available above entrance doors where you can read station names in English.
There is internet in all trains.
Subway maps are bilingual - in Russian and English.
Useful links to get more practical information on Moscow subway in English:
Official subway website is all in Russian, but here is interactive Subway map in English from Yandex. You can plan trips by selecting stations of origin and destination. The system will calculate optimal rout and give you travel time estimate (very accurate). Beware that estimate time is between stations (in other words – platforms). Getting into the station and out of the station may require extra 10-15 minutes. This extra time is due to long escalators and passage ways. Also entrances and exits can be crowded in peak hours and that will slow you down. You can download phone app with the same functionality and use it on the go. The app can also locate you in the subway.
Full information on tickets and fares – very easy to understand and thorough guide – all in English officially from Moscow department of transportation. Includes other useful information on using subway.
Plenty of information on Moscow subway is available on the internet in English, just use search engine of your choice.
Метро (Metro) - Subway, metro
Билет (Bilet) - Ticket
Поездка (Poezdka) - One subway trip (when buying tickets)
Станция (Stanciya) - Station
Поезд (Poezd) - Train
Переход (Perekhod) - Transfer (they use the word “interchange” when announcing transfer stations in English)
Линия (Liniya) - Line