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If you want to get around St Petersburg quickly, cheaply and easily you`ll want to get to know the metro…
Что такое – метро?
The Saint Petersburg Metro (or underground or subway if you prefer) is one of the fastest, cheapest and most convenient ways to get around the city. In Saint Petersburg the metro has five different colour coded lines: Red, Blue, Green, Orange and Purple (M1, M2, M3, M4 and M5 respectively). These five lines already serve 67 stations and a new brown line (M6) with 6 new stations is also planned for the future. The St Pete`s metro is the second largest in Russia, the 19th largest in the world and also the deepest in the world according to average station depth. The deepest station in the system is Admiralteyskaya, which is 86 metres below the surface.
Как использовать его?
In comparison with some other cities` metros (I`m looking at you Paris) the St Petersburg Metro works incredibly simply. Finding a metro station is simple, they`re well marked on maps (both digital and physical) and you can easily spot the entrance by looking out for the distinctive blue “M” logo.
When you enter a station through any of its entrances you will end up in a main vestibule, where you will find ticket machines, ticket desks and cash machines. The easiest way to ride the metro is to buy tokens (жетоны). One token costs 35 rubles and can take you anywhere on the metro. That`s right, there`s no need to worry about zones or anything like that, so long as you don`t leave the metro system (and you`ll need to pass you an automatic barrier to do this) you can travel as far and as long as you want, to wherever you want. Using only one token you could even go and do a tour of every single metro station if you wanted to (more on why you might later).
Once you`ve bought your token either from a token machine or a ticket desk head towards the ticket barriers. Insert your token into the slot on the right side of the gate that you want to use. If you have heavy luggage with you, you`ll find a luggage gate at either the far right of far left of the ticket barriers depending on the station you`re in.
The alternative to tokens is the Podorozhnik electronic top-up card. The card itself costs only 60 roubles and, whilst the cost of a single journey is the same as if you buy tokens, carrying a card with 1000 roubles worth of funds is far easier than carrying 1000 rubles worth of tokens. To get past the ticket barriers with a Podorozhnik simply hold it on top of the card scanner (again on the right side of the gate you want to use) until you hear a beep and see a green light.
Once you`re through the barriers, to reach the trains you`ll need to head down the escalators. Just remember, whether you`re going up or down the escalators you should be standing on the right. The left hand side should be left clear for people who are in a rush and want to walk.
Once you`re on the platform check the signs to see which train is going in the direction you want and jump on board. If the train isn`t there when you arrive, don`t worry, another should appear in about a minute or two. If the train is there when you arrive, be careful when you get on; the doors can shut pretty suddenly. If you`re not sure if you`ll be able to get on in time, it`s probably just better to wait.
To help yourself find your way around the metro I recommend downloading the Yandex Metro app. It allows you to easily plan your journey and find the fastest routes to your destination.
Travel isn`t the only reason to use the metro however. It`s also a bit of an architectural treasure trove. Think less Музей под открытым небом and more музей под землёй. On the red line there are many examples of imposing Soviet style stations whilst the purple line has many examples of beautiful but more modern stations.
If you`re lucky you might even have a chance to ride on one of the metro system`s themed trains. These might have art exhibits, information about Russian film and literature or pictures of nature and famous sights, you`ll just have to see what comes your way.
Riding the metro will also sometimes give you the opportunity to enjoy St Petersburg`s musical traditions. Whether they`re on the platform or on the train itself musicians are just as common under St Petersburg`s streets as they are on them. The south bound platform of Technologicheskii Institut is an especially good place to go if your looking to experience the more melodious side of the metro.