June 28, 2017

Transportation

No matter how long you plan to be in Kyiv, you’ll have to get around somehow. Kyiv offers a broad spectrum of transport options—each with advantages and some troubling disadvantages.

Metro
Kyiv has a very reliable subway (metro) made of three lines. The main “red line”, as well as the oldest line, links the city from its western edge, across the river, and on to the Left Bank. The “blue line” goes north to south through the center, and the newest and slowest “green line” links the southern Left Bank to central Kyiv. Click the map below to see a larger version. The metro is very reliable and would, most often, take one over long distances the most quickly. During rush hour, trains come every 45 seconds. However, the metro can be amazingly crowded during morning and evening rush hours.

The metro costs 50 kopeks ($0.10) per ride (switching lines is free). A monthly metro pass is available for about $6. It’s rumored that prices will double soon. To navigate the system, it’s essential to learn the Cyrillic alphabet in order to read directional signs. Read more about Kyiv metro and each of its stations here.

Marshrutka
Semiprivate taxi vans marshrutka speed up getting around the city. They follow the routes of trams, buses, and trolleybuses. It normally costs 1.5 hryvna ($0.30) per ride (shorter routes are cheaper), twice the amount of state-run transportation. Prices may increase with notice. They don’t stop unless someone flags them by putting their hand out parallel to the road. Don’t wave. The van stops and most sit down before paying. Passengers then pass their money up and change may be passed back. You may be asked to pass money forward and be told how many people they are paying for. You can just pay as you get on. Since these marshrutka don’t stop at all stops, you have to tell the driver where you want to stop. It’s best to learn the names of the places you want to stop and how to tell the driver you want off.

Tram, Trolleybus, and Bus
These three forms of transport take you where the metro doesn’t. A trolleybus runs on two electric cables attached to overhead cables along its route. Fifty kopecks will purchase you a ticket from the person selling them in the transport, sometimes from the driver, or at a kassa near the stop. Occasionally, there are people who check whether or not you have a ticket. Always buy a ticket and cancel it in one of the devices located throughout the transport. It's quite common for people to pass their ticket to other people to cancel it, so don't be surprised if someone hands you a ticket.

Taxi
Taxis are not nearly as expensive as they are in the West (about $5 from one side of Kyiv to the other). A taxi can be ordered by calling any of the many cab services (Call 059 or 252-9696 for a cheap service). Operators do not speak English. They’ll want to know where you are going and where you are. They often charge per kilometer plus a pick-up fee of less than $1. However, taxi drivers are notorius for trying to raise fares. It’s best to get the cost from the operator or agree with the driver before. If you flag a taxi on the street, you may be surprised that regular drivers stop as well. This kind of “hitchhiking” is very common in Ukraine. Always agree with the person first about the price. Don’t get in a car if the driver appears drunk.

Driving
Although U.S. driver’s licenses are valid here, don’t plan to drive in Ukraine. It’s very expensive to rent a car, and Kyiv motorists are tough, rugged city drivers who often ignore traffic laws and traffic lanes. Riding in car in Kyiv can be a little unnerving at times. Most Kyiv drivers and passengers don’t buckle up, either. Sometimes drivers are even offended if you want to; they perceive it as a sign you don’t trust them.

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