Before coming to Russia, I could count on one hand the number of times I had been on a Metro. Upon arriving in Moscow, I learned I would be primarily using the Metro to get around. I was in a panic! I could barely speak the language and had no idea how to use public transportation. I also didn’t have good memories of the Metro systems in the States. I remembered dark, dirty, crowded places where no one wanted to linger long. After almost two weeks in Moscow and countless trips on the Metro, I can confidently say the Moscow Metro system is one of the most user friendly systems I have ever encountered.
The first station I ever entered was Белорусская. It was like being in a museum or an art gallery. The station was well lit, the walls and floors were well designed and beautiful to look at, and it was so clean despite the large numbers of people passing through. I pass through it nearly every day, and the wall decorations and mosaics still catch my interest. However, the most stunning station I have seen so far is Киевская. It is one of the most frequently used stations and has light fixtures resembling chandeliers, paintings on the walls of the platforms, and statues.
Not all stations are as opulent as Киевская, especially as one gets further away from the center, but all the stations are clean and safe. My favorite station is Боробъёвы горы or ‘Sparrow Hills’. It’s close to my home station and is one of the few stations above ground. The station itself offers a beautiful view of the Moscow river and the local park is large and perfect to гулять. It’s also close to МГУ, the most famous Russian university, and the Russian Academy of Sciences.
More importantly, the system itself is easy to navigate.
The different lines are color coded so while I may not have the actual names of the lines memorized, I can always refer to the ‘dark blue line’ or the ‘red line’. If I accidentally got on the wrong train or pass my station, it’s a simple matter of getting off at the next station, crossing the platform, and boarding the opposite train back. The trains pass by pretty regularly (I haven’t had to wait more than three minutes for my train) and the stations are rarely closed or under construction.
The Metro also has unspoken rules that all Russians follow (and make it really easy for foreigners to stick out). If you’re not walking down the escalator, stick to the right side. If you’re walking down the escalator, walk down the left side. Always give up your seat to old бабушки or women with children (thus, all the men tend to rarely get a seat). Get where you’re going and don’t just stand in the middle of the Metro talking. On the Metro itself, don’t speak above what’s necessary for your friend beside you to hear. It’s a beautifully efficient system, and that I feel quite fortunate to experience. My resident director told my group at the orientation that the Moscow Metro system is the best in the world, and after experiencing it firsthand, I am inclined to agree.