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Transport

A single journey on the Moscow subway costs 55 roubles (about USD 1), while a 20-journey travel card costs 720 roubles (USD 12). Using a student discount one can get a monthly Moscow underground card for 380 roubles (USD 6), the cost is even lower in the other cities.

A monthly metro pass costs between 250 roubles ($8) and 500 roubles ($16). Bus, tram and trolleybus tickets cost 10 – 50 cents (for one journey, irrespective of length). Trips and Excursions: Day trips to Golden Ring towns can be arranged independently for $10 – $20. Train travel in Russia is extremely good value (a 3rd class ticket from Moscow-St Petersburg costs about $12). Outside Moscow and St Petersburg it is usually possible to arrange accommodation for $20 – $30 per night, although that may mean Soviet-style hotels where service and decor leaves a lot to be desired.

Taxis are generally very cheap but sometimes drivers try to gouge foreign tourists. There is no real system of taxi licensing. Taking a taxi often means going out in the street and flagging down any car that passes by (a “gypsy” taxi) and paying the driver $1 or $2 for a ride.

There are two kinds of taxis: official taxis and unofficial “gypsy” taxis. In Moscow, the official taxis are yellow and have a taxi sign on the roof. In regard to which one to take, there are two lines of reasoning. One advises foreign travelers to stick with more expensive official registered taxis for safety reasons. The other line of reasoning is to take the gypsy cabs. They are cheaper, more convenient, more adventurous and more Russian. Russians say there is little risk in taking them. Young women do it all the time, late at night, and rarely have problems.

There are different prices for Russians and foreigners. Russian taxi drivers generally don’t expect the tips from Russians but sometimes they do from foreigners. Avoid taxis that have another passenger inside. Sometimes they are muggers. Also avoid the groups of taxis drivers that gather around train and bus stations, tourist hotels and places frequented by tourists. You are better off and less likely to get ripped off or robbed if you flag a driver down on the street.

Transportation in Russia often entails traveling or transporting goods over incredibly long distances. Most of the rivers travel only north and south and paved roads are difficult to maintain in places with an extreme weather. Thus railroads have traditionally transported the bulk of goods and passengers. This is changing quickly as more people get their own cars and trucks. Locally, in rural areas, you can still see many people using horse-drawn peasant carts.

Students for Moscow generally arrive at one of Moscow’s two international airports, Sheremetevo 2 or Domodedovo. The latter is preferable as it was completely renovated in 2002, and is now an extremely modern and efficient airport comparable with any in Western Europe. Sheremetevo is older and can be worse in terms of passport control and baggage delays. In St Petersburg the main international airport is Pulkovo. Some cities in the Siberia and the Far East of Russia also have airports of their own. The exit process is basically the same in all the airports. After getting off the plane (generally directly into the airport building) you should follow the signs to passport control.

Before you go through, make sure you have filled in both sections of a migration card (often handed out on the plane, otherwise available on desks in the passport control area). Hand in this card together with your passport and visa, have the migration card stamped (and one copy returned to you), and go through to baggage collection and customs. Find the appropriate baggage conveyor belt for your flight, and avoid the trolley caddies who will charge a fortune for pushing your luggage 50 metres.

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