I am Russian, but my husband is American. We went to visit Russia last year and had experience with the local town car service my friend recommended us. It's called Moscow Transporter. Here is a link to the website if anyone interested http://www.moscowtransporter.weebly.com. It is a bit different from a regular taxi, you book a professional driver with his car for a whole day! Even though I know both languages, our driver could speak some decent english! He drove us around Moscow at night (it was around new years so the whole city was beautifully decorated), showed us "must see" places and waited for us while we took some photos! and I take tons of photos :D We also had an option to schedule a 3 hours private guided tour with them which is really nice for those who is visiting moscow for the first time.
I am usually very skeptical about taxi services, and never catch a taxi on the streets, so having a referral was wonderful and prices were discussed ahead of time. for Ford Focus we paid about 5000 rubles it is like 80$ right now, and we had a car to ourselves for entire day! which is nothing, compared to 74$ i had to pay per person for a shared van to get from Riverside, Ca to the airport ( it's about an hour drive ). I strongly recommend!
When arriving in Moscow, plenty of freelance taxi drivers with astronomical prices await you at the airport. Most of them only speak Russian and try to charge you thousands of Roubles for a city ride. Be careful with picking those! Also, at the taxi desk folks mostly speak only Russian, thus getting a taxi and finding out a correct, fair fare for the ride to the city can be quite a challenge.
Unique Suggestions: When going to Moscow, book a taxi in advance. There are plenty of websites on the web offering airport transfers from all three Moscow airports to any location in the city center. Prices can differ also here enormously. Check out this TripAdvisor page for some companies operating in Moscow, some also with English-speaking services:
Before I was planning my trip to Moscow I consulted some of my Ukranina friends about taxi services there, and all of them advised to find at first a Russian-speaking friend who can meet me at the airport and thelp getting around for me not to find myself in the trouble) And then they gave me the link to one taxi service - Nowtaxi, that is computerized and works automatically (it means that I actually could leave the order for a taxi online in Engish and do not worry about it being lost or so, as sometimes with people may happen) and I could also be sure that no one is going to take advantage of me in teh way of taking more money than the lift actually cost. It's actually cool that such a complicated service as taxi service started to have some system in Moscow) To tell the truth I liked the service very much)
Especially for the blue lines, it can be hard to tell the light blue verses the dark blue. Also, if you are color blind, the line coloring is not a big help. However, in addition to color, each line also has a number. This number is printed on the metro maps, and also on the station signs in the metro (to the far right). To be sure that you are going on the right line, you can always verify the number.
Unique Suggestions: Remember to plan your trip in advance, before you enter the first metro station.
Fun Alternatives: Inside the brown line, the stations are often not far apart. You can always walk between them, and some of the best sights to be seen are along the small streets that you may encounter while you are doing just that.
The taxi drivers are really crazy bargaining people, and they speak only Russian. If you need Taxi and cannot speak Russian, I think it is impossible if you have no Google maps printout with you (the route best marked clearly). The business runs like this, that you go e. g. to the Taxi location near the metro station and show the map with the route and then start to discuss about the price. Minimum price for short distance was 100 Rubels (August 2009).
To my experience it runs best, if one 1 or 2 taxi drivers standing there. I had one case, where we had already agreed on 150 Rubels, and then further taxi drivers came around and a loud discussion started, and they then suddenly wanted minimum 200 Rubels - I got angry and just walked for this time - only short distance and sun was shining (but at least they started yelling behind be - just I did not look back any more - it was really a bad experience).
Fun Alternatives: One time I was together with a Russian, and he could not agree on price with a (lonely) Taxi driver at a tram station (we wanted to pay max. 200 Rubels for about 1 metro station distance), and then a private car driving by stopped and made it for this price - it was a funny drive with a funky youngster in a very hip car. But I am not sure whether I would dare to board such a car allone.
For most tourists Moscow metro can be a real trap as all signs have no English translations and all announcements are done in Russian. The only one thing on signs, which can help you somehow while changing lines, is indication of a line in color. In order not to be lost it is better to familiarize with metro-map in advance, make plan of your trip, and maybe count the stations on your way. But if you are totally lost, don’t give up, ask young people (better those who are not in a hurry ;) ) for a help.
Have a look at the map here: http://www.metro.ru/map/2007
Don’t know if it is a trap, but presence of two metro stations which have their twins can confuse everyone. So make it clear name or color of the line (light blue or dark blue) if you make any appointment or just need to pass Arbatskaya or Smolenskaya.
taxi in moscow is not expensive..for us, people living in this city...but unfortunately it's not the same for foreign people and yes, you have to be ready to pay at least double price:( taxi drivers are known to be good psycholigists and they instantly feel when you dont belong to this city and always trying to benefit at maximum from this
Unique Suggestions: but... if you have a russian friend with you..it changes everything (the price i mean!)!!! all you have to do..is just step aside, relax and wait till your russian friend agrees about reasonable price:) in doesnt mean you have to hide, just act like you dont know each other..well...this is my advise
Taxi touts at Sheremetevo will try and charge you the earth to take you into Moscow. I was quoted around $70. Public transport will get you there for a fraction of the price. The sooner they build the railway to Sheremetevo the better.
Unique Suggestions: If you absolutely need to use a taxi, remember that prices are negotiable. The best thing to do is say 'Nyet, doraga' Íåò, äîðîãî, and they will invariably come back with a lowered price. Repeat this a few times and you'll get a much more favourable price.
Fun Alternatives: There are buses that go to Rechnoi Vokzal metro station, from where you can get the underground to wherever you're going.
If you are going to the railway station by taxi, watch the taxi driver, he will communicate by sms to a guy waiting for you at the station. When arriving, the driver will open the backcar and will take his time to get paid in the car by you. Meanwhile the other guy will take your luggage without offering you the service...you will have to run after him, he walk's very fast :-). And will try to charge you for is good act. Be carefull.
I felt that the train operation of thesubway (METRO) in MOSCOW is unbelievable. Trains are running with very short time interval. I never waited more than 3 min. Average may be 2 min. But... , I had to wait more than 15 min. to buy a ticket of METRO. Workers in the ticket booth were very lazy. The slow work may be reasonable because there were other crowded ques to escalators going down to a platform. Anyway, several trains were arriving and departing during I was waiting to buy a ticket and to take the escalator.
Unique Suggestions: If you have a plan of multi-ride of METRO, you should buy a book of tickets. Indeed, it is not a ticket, but a card with a magnetic strip. If you pay for the multi-ride in advance, the worker can record the paid charge in the card. You can use the same card repeatedly for each ride.
In Moscow, any passing car can become a taxi if you are willing to pay them enough for the privilege. Meters are few and far between - and speculative prices are offered - they are generally rather high. To ensure that you don't get ripped off, get a taxi booked from your hotel - they have pre-payment often and then you usually get a more reasonable price than you would otherwise.
Unique Suggestions: When they suggest a price knock a half off to start off with i.e. offer them 350 if they say 700. They'll more than likely come down to close to half way which you'll know is a more reasonable fare to pay. Always agree on the price before the start of the journey - if you don't like what they want to charge you, then walk away, they'll usually drop the price.
At the airport, do not accept any offer and head straight to a taxi office.
Fun Alternatives: Use the metro where possible - it is convenient, efficient and above all, very cheap!
Moscow has bid for the 2012 summer Olympics along with London, Madrid, New York and Paris. Although the Moscow winning bid would force Moscow to improve its infrastructure ahead of the Olympic games, I do not think this is a good idea. For one, the city's infrastructure is already overloaded. I cannot see how the city could provide enough alternative transportation routes to and from the airport to accomodate the surge in traffic?
Sheremetyevo II was built for the last Olympics in 1980 and has barely been rennovated or upgraded since. Gettting to and from the airport can take up to 2 1/2 hours by car. There is of course the metro, but it stops short of Sheremetyevo II and would need to be extended at great cost and time.
Domodevedo is the other airport located farther from town. The owners or leasors spent a lot of money fixing it up and attracting new tenants such as British Airways. However, now that it is functional again, the state wants to review the terms of the lease. This means less money spent upgrading and improving facilities.
Unique Suggestions: Also, Moscow's mayor has had most of Moscow's older hotels in the city center torn down so that he can build new ones. However, the city suffers from a chronic shortage of hotel rooms, especially 3-star economy ones and therefore rooms are very expensive. There are plans to build prefab hotels for the games. These will simply be an eye sore and a blot on the landscape much as the Kruschev era apartment blocks are now. If you're not going to build decent hotels, better not to build any.
City Hall is planning to increase Moscow's hotel capacity dramatically -- one of the prerequisites for hosting the 2012 Olympic Games from roughly 60,000 beds to as many as 200,000.
It is clear that Moscow would like the prestige of the games, especially as its old sparring partner China will get them in 2008. However, I think Madrid and Paris are both in a better position to host a successful games in 2012. If Moscow wants the games in 2016, it should start now to upgrade its facilities, including roads, metro and hotels. These are admirable goals with or without the games. It will also make it easier for more tourists to visit Moscow, too.
Fun Alternatives: http://www.m2012.ru/en/
If you arrive at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow and plan to head to the city centre by taxi, never ever accept the offers from the guys who approach you even before you leave the building. They are going to offer you a ride for about 85$. I made them put down the offer to 40$ and was very proud of myself... But in the end it was still way to expensive. I could have get it for 20$ or so. Don't let the taxi drivers f@@@ you!!!
Unique Suggestions: If you think the price they offer is too high, just start walking away and tell them, you will use the metro. Take your time until you get a fair price.
Fun Alternatives: Use the metro, if you can handle with your luggage.
If you are having a connecting domestic flight after your arrival to sheremetevo 2 from abroad, you will probably have to transfer to domestic sheremetevo 1. Aeroflot has a free transfer bus outside the terminal. TAXI DRIVERS will start asking you if you need a taxi and they will often become annoying!!!....AIRPORT INFO AND AEROFLOT INFO have been fooling around
with me tellimg me...'today there are no busses' or 'the next bus is after four hours' ...so that i will be forced to take a taxi and very likely overcharged!! WATCH THEM ..THEY ARE ALL IN THE ...PLAN!!!.....I talked with the airport manager who told me that there is very frequent bus transfer service which i finally used free of charge!!!
Fun Alternatives: TAKE THE AEROFLOT FREE BUS JUST OUTSIDE THE TERMINAL!!