St. Petersburg Marshrutka

A marshrutka or marshrutnoe taksi is a privately owned minivan or small bus that follows a fixed route, collecting and depositing passengers anywhere along the way. Anyone who has traveled in the Middle East or Asia will be familiar with the concept, although they are particularly widespread in Russian cities. Visitors may find the network of marshrutki a little too complicated to be worth using in the city center, especially now that they can longer run along Nevsky Prospekt, but they are often the best means of getting to St. Petersburg's suburban attractions, and are the cheapest way to get to/from the city's airports.

A typical St. Petersburg city marshrutka
A typical St. Petersburg city marshrutka

Route numbers, usually prefixed with the letter 'K', are prominently displayed on the front and side of the bus, often alongside the most important stops along the route (sometimes in English for popular tourist areas). Rules have changed in recent years, and marshrutka drivers are now only supposed to pick up passengers at official bus stops. They will normally stop anywhere to let you off, however, provided you give them reasonable warning. If you have the language skills, then explain exactly where you wish to be dropped. Otherwise, just shout "as-ta-no-VI-tye, pa-ZHA-lu-i-sta" - "stop, please!" - when you get close to your destination.

In St. Petersburg, although not everywhere in Russia, it is the norm to pay as soon as you have boarded a marshrutka, passing your money to the driver through the passengers in front of you. For this reason, it is best to avoid the seats at the very front of the cabin, otherwise you will find yourself passing money backwards and forwards throughout your journey. Unless you are traveling to the end of the route, you will need to request the driver to stop at your destination.

Fares on marshrutki are slightly more expensive than on public buses, but are only just over $1 within the city, and only slightly more for suburban trips.