Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

THE WORD'S WORTH: The Passenger's Guide To Driving in Moscow




"Priyekhali!" my driver muttered with a curse as we came to a sudden halt beside the offices of The Moscow Times ("we've arrived"). I sheepishly handed over the 30 rubles we had agreed on for the journey. Sheepishly since we had just hit another car at 50 kilometers per hour after it pulled out in front of us, ricocheted across the road and crumpled into the back of a parked Mitsubishi sports utility vehicle.


Such are the hazards facing all voditeli (drivers) in Moscow, where traffic regulations apparently exist to be broken, but particularly the chastniki, gypsy-cab drivers, or people who make a bit of spare cash running people about town. Some drivers do nothing else but bombit' or cruise around all day looking for fares.


If you feel confident about traveling this way - there is after all always a degree of risk involved - then it's easy enough to ostanovit' or poimat' mashinu (stop or catch a car). Just stand by the roadside and golosovat ("vote") by holding out your arm. If there is a rule of thumb in this game, it is make sure you take cars with no more than one person, the driver, inside.


When a car stops, there are various ways of asking for a ride. Try Ne podvezyotye na Tverskuyu Ulitsu? (Will you drop me off on Tverskaya Ulitsa?) or Mne na Tverskuyu/do aeroporta (I want to go to Tverskaya Ulitsa/the airport).


If the driver is willing to go that way, you then have to dogovorit'sya o tsenye (agree on a price). People usually ask Skol'ko daditye (How much will you give). Once that's agreed, he will say Sadis'/sadityes' (sit down, or get in).


When pressed for time, you can say. Kak mozhno bystreye (as fast as possible). In this case know the word ostorozhno! (Watch out!).


As you set off you may be asked nakin'/nakin'tye remen' (throw your seatbelt across you), to avoid being fined by the traffic police. This is not the same as fastening your seatbelt, zastegnut' remen'. (Most drivers don't understand why in the world you would want to actually fasten it. I read somewhere that a person has been in Russian too long when he finds himself refraining from fastening his seatbelt so as not to offend the driver.)


Words to know en route are probka and zator, which are both traffic jams, and mnogo/malo dvizheniya (heavy/light traffic).


As you approach your destination it will help to know also v kontsye/nachalye ulitsy (at the end/beginning of the street), pered svetoforom, or u/posle svetofora (before the traffic lights or at/after the traffic lights) and za ugol (round the corner).


And to stop without the assistance of a parked Mitsubishi, just say ostanovitye's zdes' pozhaluista (stop here, please).