Taxis and gypsy cabs in Moscow


Hi there readers, in this updated post, I'm going to break down the safest, cheapest and most comfortable ways to get around Moscow by cab.

As of writing this in 2014, there are basically three types of cabs that will get you around Moscow:

Official cabs
Unofficial cabs (just hold your hand out and wait)
Cabs via taxi apps (the Russian versions of Uber)

The best way to get a car

Late at night, during low traffic times

Download and install Yandex Taxi for your smart phone, it's basically Uber. Turn your gps on, type in the address (or let the gps locate you), then hit the search button. You'll usually be able to get a car within 10 minutes and select what type of tariff you want. First ten minutes costs about 250 roubles, then 15 roubles per minute after that. This will be a lot cheaper and a lot safer when getting cars at night, after the clubs and, for those who don't speak Russian, you don't have to piss around, haggling with pushy drivers of 1962 beat up Ladas. My typical late night journey has gone from a guaranteed 500 roubles (or less but only if I want to do endless haggling then the driver can't find the place) to about 270-350 roubles.

Yandex taxi cars are only ever a max of 3 years old (so you get to ride in comfort) and the drivers depend on feedback you leave via the app, so they are much more likely to not be total assholes. 
sexual assault = terrible feedback

During heavier traffic times, longer distance

For the journeys you know will be longer, try another popular cab app called Get taxi. It's around 20 minutes for 400 roubles, but then are mere 2 roubles per minute after that.

Compare that to a standard cab: you typically have to pay 350 roubles for 20 mins, you will have to wait up to 40 minutes or longer for the cab to arrive, then once those 20 minutes are up (and they'll go quick in traffic or if the driver wants to take you scenic route) that meter will start going off the hook. Forget ordering a cab the old way. 

Getting to/from airport

This is the only case where it is worth calling up a taxi company and booking a cab, seriously. I use 2x2 taxi and their standard airport tariff, last time I  checked, was 900 roubles and 1100 for pick up. Since the ride usually takes a minimum of an hour (and more if traffic is bad) this is by far the only financially sensible way of getting to the airport, excluding the shuttle of course. I personally would rather pay the extra money and not have to haul all my shit around the metro, then shuttle.

Many years ago I would just roll out of the flat and flag a car to the airport, but guess what? I would still end up paying 1000 roubles back then, the car would usually be a typical piece of shit 1960s scrap job, the driver would usually speak shitty Russian and - bonus points - would often not know the best way to get there, thus dragging us through traffic and making me almost miss my flight.
Even if you catch a ride to the airport for 700, it just ain't worth the hassle.

As for coming back from the airport, get ready to be assaulted by a group of 5000 sweaty Georgian men, all saying такси, такси!! Same shitty cars, same lack of GPS (or knowing where anything is) and prices start from 1500. They'll often complain that it has to be higher because of parking costs, as if this is somehow your problem.

And yes, if they catch one whiff that you are not Russian, your price will be tippled, if not quadrupled, so just call a cab in advance, have them meet you and avoid the cacus love fest.

For the other times when you want a gypsy cab 

Fun fact for those that might not have seen this in action  - in Russia it is completely normal to simply stand by the road, stick your hand out and wait for a car to stop. You haggle, agree on a price and then away you go, hopefully without getting raped before arriving at your destination. 

You'll be amazing at how many cars stop to haggle with you and service your ever transport need.

While taxi apps are king in my opinion, there might be a time when you will need a gypsy cab, maybe your phone breaks, maybe your gps stops working or your smartphone dies. These days I don't ever plan on doing it again, but I have used gypsy cabs regularly for over 6 years.

They really are quite safe as long as you adhere to some basic rules. As always, common sense is king.

Rule one: Never get in a car with more than two people. Just don’t do it. Back in the day me and my friends got charged $100 for a 13 minute cab ride in SPB when we did this. The guys started getting aggressive - criminal-esque aggressive -so in true pussy fashion we coughed up the roubles like bitches and wrote it off as a lesson learned. My muzhik levels have never been the same since. 

Rule two: Always agree on a price before hand and stick to it. If at any point during the journey the driver starts bitching you should forcefully say that you either go for the agreed price or you get out on the spot. Stick to your guns and do not be pushed around

I once broke this rule myself in 2009 coming back from the airport. It was was raining super hard and I was in a rush. And yes, it was at the hands of a very dumb, very sleazy Georgian - the kind of guys who's calling you buddy one minute and stabbing you the next.

I got screwed over for 50% more than what we agreed on, he didn't know the way and he took the longest, most outrageous of routes I have ever experienced. I was exhausted after a long day of travel and just wanted to get home but couldn't, because this asshole had to stop every five minutes to ask directions (although I suspect he may have known and just been leading me on a longer route). 

You'd think a guy working as a taxi driver, even unofficially, would have a satnav or map at least, but no. Probably just had a stabby knife and a rape kit in his glove box.   

This was 5 years ago, and just thinking about it pisses me off immensely, even now. I was a fool and Mr T would have been disgusted

Rule three: Never accept a drink from a cab driver, any cab driver 

Especially not late at night!

I have been offered a swig of something before and, while I do go full retard on myself at times, I've never been stupid enough to drink from some unmarked bottle in a cab. I had a friend who accepted the magic swig and he ended up passing out and getting his ass robbed (to be fair, he must be an easy target because he has been robbed on at least 3 occasions in Moscow).

Another girl I used to date told me how once, after getting a car after a night in the club, the driver went in Кофе Хаус to get a no-doubt raucously overpriced espresso. He said he could do with the energy boost and brought her a coffee back too. Next thing she remembers is waking up in his car, with the freaking seat tilted right back, and no sign of the driver. 

As you can imagine, waking up on a fully tiled-back seat is never good.

She doesn't remember anything happening, but when she stumbled out of the car to get home, the driver came running back, got aggressive, saying she hadn't paid or something, and she ended up giving him a shit load of money so he would go away. She said her head was exploding for the next two days.

So stay safe people and stay the fuck away from unmarked liquids and overly-friendly cab drivers.

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Nino's Mutterings on March 10, 2018 at 8:53 PM said...

Very Informative... Re taxi cabs, might be wise to buy a map; study it and carry it with me wherever I go. And then use public transportation first; taxi last.

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