Getting around St. Petersburg by metro, public transport, taxi, rent-a-car.

Author: Dimitry Paranyushkin (on 14 Jul 2011)
St. Petersburg is not as crowded as Moscow, but the transport system is far from ideal. If you have a chance, just get a room in the center of the city, so you don't have to use the metro or buses. There are no bicycle lanes, but some companies rent bicycles and it may be a good idea to get around the city this way in summer. Google maps  can be of great help, when you're planning your route in St. Petersburg. What you need to do is to set St. Petersburg as your default location, press Get Directions buttom, choose public transport, then fill in your start address and destination. Google will suggest your several routes, shown them on the map and tell the approximate time. The local Russian Yandex portal offers live traffic jam information (unfortunately, only in Russian). Every night starting from the end of April till November, when there is no ice on the waters of Neva river, some of the bridges are raised to let ships pass through the city. That means you should check the bridges' schedules, in case you plan to move around the city during the night, so you don't get stuck on one of the many islands for a few hours (see the information at the bottom of this page).
 

St. Petersburg Metro

St. Petersburg's metro is one of the most elegant metros in the world as well as one of the deepest, which makes it worth a visit even if you don't really need to move around the city a lot. As you can see on the metro scheme there are 5 lines. Metro entrances are marked with a blue letter "M" on top. The metro is opened from 5.45 a.m. to 0.30 a.m. Usually the last train in the line starts its way at 0.00 and the passes between the stations are closed at 0.15 am. When there're rush hours 8.00-9.00, 17.00-19.00 the metro is overcrowded so it's better to avoid it.

St. Petersburg Metro / Photo by Rolfnoe@FlickR
St. Petersburg Metro / Photo by Rolfnoe@FlickR

Orientation. There are metro schemes both in Russian and English in every car and on most of the stations, however names of the stations are announced in Russian only. It might be useful to print out metro scheme or to buy it somewhere. When you're on the station and want to find out the direction you need just look up there're signs hanging on the ceiling - a list of stations in every direction. If you need to find a way out of the metro also look up to see where the exit to the city is ("Exit to the city) and to which street (ulitsa).

Tickets. The metro has no special zones - all metro is one zone, and there's no time limit for using your ticket. So you can buy a token ("zheton") for 25 roubles for one trip (0.80$) and spend as much time inside as you like. A good way to save money is to buy a card for many rides - the price of one ride will be cheaper then. For example, you can get a card for 10 rides that can be used in 7 days for the price of 210 roubles.
 


Buses, Trolleys and Trams

Most of them don't go on the schedule, and the average waiting time can be from 5-10 minutes to 40 minutes in the evenings. The hours of work are from 6:00 until 24:00. The bus stops are yellow plates marked with "A" signs, trolleys' - white plates with "T" and trams' with "Tp". The routes are written in Russian on the back side of these plate as well as on the vehicles. The city transport stops working after 24:00 and starts working after 6:00. There are no night buses or trolleys or trams. If you're late, you can take a taxi.
A ticket for one trip costs 21 roubles. You can buy the tickets from the conductor, in the metro and also in some buses you pay the driver when you get out of the bus.

Trolley on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg / photo by Way To Russia User

There are some "express buses&quot, which are privatly owned. These buses are marked with letter "K" before the line number. They are slightly more expensive (30 roubles = $1) and less crowded than the standard buses. Usual passes and tickets can't be used on these.


Marshrutka

...is a minibus. This kind of public transport became very popular in the end of the 1990s and has even replaced some bus routes. In front and on the right side of marshrutkas there are usually signs with their main stops along the route (in Russian), so check these signs out or ask locals for advice. Here  is a comprehensive website about marshrutkas and their routes (Russian only). If you see an approaching shuttle just wave it down like a taxi. You must pay for a trip around 30 roubles ($1) to the driver after getting inside. When you are near your stop just say aloud to the driver where to stop. He will understand if you just say "Stop!" or more polite "Ostano`vite po`zhaluista" (stop please). I wouldn't recommend using marshrutkas unless there are no other ways of transportation available: the cars are often quite old and the drivers are migrants from former soviet republics that talk on the phone and even smoke while driving.


Cars and Taxis

Lots of private drivers will agree to give you a lift but only for money. It's better to negotiate the price before starting a trip (even cabmen don't like to use counters). When the driver recognizes you as a foreigner, he will try to make you pay the highest price - so bargain. It is a good way to find out a typical price (ask natives) before. It costs around 200-300 roubles (7-10$) to move around the central districts and about 400-500 roubles to get from the outskirts to the city center.
Using taxis is more safe and sometimes even cheaper, but there are not many taxis on the streets, only in lively places. Usually taxis take around 20 roubles for one kilometer and they start at 35 roubles.
Taxis from the airports are more expensive: for example, it costs about $30 to get from Pulkovo II int'l airport to the centrum of the city.
You can phone these numbers to order a taxi: +7 (812) 7000000, +7 (812) 6008888.


Rent-a-Car

To rent a car you need to have your driving license, at least one year experience, and to be minimum 21 or sometimes 25 years old. All the companies prefer booking, but in most of the cases you can easily rent a car right in the office.


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Hertz. Offer cars with or without drivers. Credit cards accepted: American Express, Visa, Diners Club, EuroCard/MasterCard, JCB.
Address: Pulkovo Airport, Terminal 1 and 2, arrival halls.; Opened: 09.00 - 21.00 (daily), phone: (812) 326-4505, internet: http://www.hertz.com/

Biracs. Cars with and without drivers. They offer some models of Ford (Focus II, Mondeo), Nissan (X-Trail, Teana) and Opel Antara. The cheapest car to rent is Ford Focus II for 1090 roubles per day. The minimum rental period is 3 days./
Credit cards accepted: American Express, Diners Club, Maestro, MasterCard/EuroCard, UnionCard, Visa, Visa Electron.
Address: Boytsova per the Sadovaya ul., pass the park on your left (this park is called Usupovsky sad), take the first turn to the left as you pass the park. This is Boytsova per.., #8. Metro: Sadovaya. Go straight ahead as you exit the station along. Opened: mon-fri: 9.00 - 19.00, sat-sun: 10.00 - 18.00; phone: (812) 310-5356, fax: (812) 319-4849; Internet: http://www.biracs.ru/ (all the prices and conditions in English).

Avis. Offers cars with and without drivers. The cars to rent range from small and compact to business class and even minivans. The cheapest will be to rent Skoda Fabia for 60 euros per day. If you book a car more than 24 hours in advance you can get it delivered free of charge between 10.00 and 20.00.
Address: Pulkovo Airport, Terminal 1 and 2, arrival halls; 2 sq. Alexandra Nevskogo, Hotel "Moscow", podiezd 3. Metro: sq. Alexandra Nevskogo. Opened: 9.00-21.00 (offices in Pulkovo I and in Hotel "Moscow") and 11.00-22.00 (office in Pulkovo II); phones: +7 (812) 600-1213; fax: +7 (812) 600-1719; е-mail: reservation@avis-rentacar.ru; Internet: http://www.avis-rentacar.ru

Bike Rental

St. Peterburg in general isn't bicycles friendly: no bike lanes, bad weather conditions, agressive drivers, plus bikes often get stolen. However, the city center is quite compact, so if it's summer and you really feel like cycling here is the place where you can get a bike:

RENTBIKE.ORG. To rent a bicycle you'll need to present a valid ID or a deposit of 3000 roubles/70 euro. RENTBIKE.ORG also organizes bike tours for the price starting from 1000 roubles.
Address: Stolyarniy per., 10 (neat Sadovaya metro station); Opened: 10.00-22.00. Tel. (812) 717–68–38; internet: http://www.rentbike.org/en; e-mail: info@rentbike.org

Scatprokat. To rent a bicycle they require a valid ID and a deposit: a document + 2000 roubles or 7000 roubles without a document. Rent prices are 150 roubles per hour or 500 roubles per day.
Address: Goncharnaya st., 7; Opened: 11.00-20.00. Tel. (812) 932-14-86; internet:http://www.skatprokat.ru/rent/rules/?lang=en ; e-mail: info@skatprokat.ru

St. Petersburg Bridges Schedule in 2011

This is important to know because every night many of St. Petersburg are lifted, so you can't get from one part of the city to another. Here's the schedule for the largest bridges:

Volodarskiy 2.00 - 3.45 and 4.15 - 5.45
Alexandra Nevskogo 2.20 - 5.10
Liteiny 1.40 - 4.45
Troitskiy 1.35 - 4.50
Dvortsovy 1.25-4.50
Leytenanta Shmidta 1.25-2.25 and 3.10-5.00
Birzhevoy 2.00 - 4.55
Tuchkov 2.00 - 2.55 and 3.35 - 4.55
Sampsoniyevskiy 2.10 - 2.45 and 3.20 - 4.25
Grenaderskiy 2.45 - 3.45 and 4.20 - 4.50
Kantemirovskiy 2.45 - 3.45 and 4.20 - 4.50

 

 

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