Taxis, Saint Petersburg

11 Reviews

Know about this?

  • St. Isaac
    St. Isaac
    by TonyTurk
  • On one of our rides
    On one of our rides
    by lalikes
  • Taxis
    by keeweechic
  • TonyTurk's Profile Photo

    Taxi rip-off

    by TonyTurk Updated Aug 11, 2015

    I took a taxi next to Hermitage museum. He was waiting there with a regular taxi sign on it. Documents inside was complete showing that it was a legally approved taxi. I asked how much it will cost to Lomonosova street before geeting into it. He did not want to tell a figure and said "what meter says". I asked how much it would cost again. He said 100 rubles a kilometer. And I guessed that it would not be more than 300 rubles (which I paid in the morning to get to there). If he would use a very long route it would differ just 100 more. So I got into the taxi, to my surprise he took the shortest route but he was driving crazy. I could not have a chance to look at the meter again. When we arrived, to my surprise, the meter was 920 rubles. Back doors was locked (my wife and two kids was siiting back). I did not argue and paid the price (because meter SHOULD HAVE BEEN RIGHT!). But after checking the web (Google map for the distance, showing the distance slightly less than 3 kms) and read about the fake about meters.
    So, don't ever trust taxi meters.

    St. Isaac
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Theater Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • borritvandis's Profile Photo

    Taxi Meter Scam

    by borritvandis Written Sep 2, 2012

    The cheating cabbies have two settings on their meter. One is for normal behaviour, the other setting they use to prove that where ever you go, taxi drivers are not to be trusted. It makes the meter run incredibly fast. So always negotiate a price, even if they have a meter, all be it a plus-minus price. I got 'ff'-ed royally, even though my Russian is okay. Did not know this trick yet though. Beware of cabbies everywhere, but surely here in St. Petersburg. I have better experience with the illegal cabs (the ones you hail down by just standing by the road), here and in Moscow.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Stanj's Profile Photo

    Taxi info

    by Stanj Written Nov 29, 2011

    I notice most of the posts describe how things were or imagined a number of years ago. The posts that did have some grain of reality are outdated and reflect little on what is true now.
    The best and more reliable taxis are now part of the modern companies who have formed in recent years to standardize operations.
    They can be identified by having newer cars, mostly of Asian manufacture, with large letters painted on the sides showing the phone number of their dispatcher. Call the dispatcher and describe here you are, when you need to be picked up and where you are going. The dispatcher will tell you the waiting time, usually 5-10 minutes max, the color of the car and the license plate. She will give a firm price so there is no need to negotiate with the driver. The prices are much more reasonable than they were in the past, and are not adjusted by assumed wealth(many Russians spend more on services now than tourists who are know for being rather frugal) or nationality but by zone.
    Unfortunately most dispatchers do not speak foreign languages. Call anyway, someone there will likely know how to communicate with you even if they have to pass the phone around. One dispatch office I know has some English speakers is "7-000-000" and another is "6-000-000" but a bit less than the previous dispatch number.
    Getting a car from the airport is even easier now, and cheaper, there are taxi kiosks on either side of the exit door of the terminal. The prices are posted dependent on zone. From the airport to city center is around 600-800 Rubles in the Summer. From the city center to the airport it is 500-600.
    Parked on the curb in the city center are many older Volga taxis with drivers reading or standing next to their cars, They are the remaining old style independent taxis who are mostly responsible for the tales of high prices. They will usually prefer to wait all night for a sucker than accept a reasonable fee for a fare. These will quote a very high price hoping you do not understand them or hoping you get in and he takes off before a price is negotiated. In that case, he can legally demand any price he wants if not agreed on before. Avoid those taxis. They are fading from use however since the dispatch taxis are newer, cleaner and a lot cheaper, more professional.
    The traditional way to get around the city, particularly after midnight when public transportation shuts down it is hail any car passing by. In the past, that meant most cars but now, the economy is such that few people would bother with picking up a stranger for the paid hitch-hiking, unless they just want to chat and practice their English. It is harder now to get a casual taxi than in the past because people do not need the income.
    It is still considered a safe way to travel and it is very common for women alone at night, because the part time amateur taxis have a good reputation for safety. Among my female friends, mostly in their 20s and 30s, the report is that about 1/2 the time the ride offer is free but as a male I always have to pay.
    Now, the dispatch taxis are also cutting into that market as well by becoming accepted as reliable transportation options. If in a theater or restaurant, call a few minutes before you step outside and have the car waiting for you.

    Was this review helpful?

  • iblatt's Profile Photo

    Keep an eye on the meter!

    by iblatt Written Nov 3, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I ordered a taxi from my hotel to the airport. "A blue Volga will be waiting for you at 7:30", said the hotel receptionist. It sure did, with a driver who pretended not to understand even one word of English. When I had inquired at the hotel how much the trip should cost, the answer was 600-700 Rubles. When I asked the driver the same question, the reply was: "No English! Meter!"

    The meter reading kept advancing in a frightening speed while we were driving. We were still inside the city when it showed 800 Rubles. I mentioned to the driver that the meter was not right, but his response remained: "No English!".

    I then moblized my minimal Russian vocabulary and said very assertively:
    "Meter ne Khorosho! [Meter not good!] Stop se-chass! [Stop now!] I take avtobus!"
    Sure enough, the driver looked a bit scared, and miraculousy his English came back to him: "OK, don't worry, I take you to Pulkovo airport for 600 Rubles, OK?!"
    I didn't say a word, he drove all the way to the airport, and I paid 600 Rubles.

    Related to:
    • Study Abroad
    • Business Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • lalikes's Profile Photo

    Hitching a ride

    by lalikes Updated Oct 10, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    It is very normal for people to flag down drivers on the road to hitch a ride for a small fee. This was completely odd to me but luckily we had met two students from the night before and they showed us around St. Petersburg for 2 days. Instead of taking cabs they would flag down just a regular driving person, negotiate a price- if they were going in the same direction that we were and decide to take a ride. We did it about 3 times. I was scared, for sure, the first time but it's quite common there. Of course, if you don't speak Russian or aren't with some who does, you can't really do it anyway. In my mind, I'd rather pay $15 for a cab instead of $2 and risk my safety. However, looking back it was kind of fun to know we did it the way the locals do.

    On one of our rides

    Was this review helpful?

  • Rachaelpass's Profile Photo

    Bizarre Taxi Ritual

    by Rachaelpass Written Apr 19, 2006

    OK, so I would strongly suggest if you are not accompanied by a Russian, you should hire taxis from the hotel or out in front of the hotels. One of the ways people get around (and make money) is to flag down passing cars, private cars, and negotiate a price with a total stranger to take them where they want to go. We had 2 friends from Moscow with us and did it quite a few times, but it was rather awkward at first - and seemed dangerous, but in the end we were fine. Some taxis are quite expensive and especially if you speak no Russian and are on your own - from what I experienced! Taxis from the hotel cost around 20 bucks depending on where you were going - but there are no meters so negotiate up front!!!

    Was this review helpful?

  • gussymons's Profile Photo

    You only live twice

    by gussymons Written Jul 3, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Buckle-up when you get into taxis.

    I was in a car-crash with two other Westerners, and the driver, from Azerbaijan, was merrily chatting away to a guy (Spencer) who could speak some Russian.

    Driving at 60mph past red-lights at 0100hrs is an invitation to dance with the devil, and sure enough, someone rammed into the side of our taxi.

    We were all ok, but the driver had a bloody nose. Slightly pissed, we decided not to wait for the friendly militia to finger us for some green, so we coughed up the fare, and scarpered to the 'Tribune' bar opposite the Bronze Horseman.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • keeweechic's Profile Photo

    Beware Gypsy Taxi's

    by keeweechic Updated Sep 18, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Do not use gypsy cabs or accept rides in cabs that already have a rider. In Russia, taxi fees are usually negotiated with the driver ahead of time.

    In Russia there is a bit of a racket in taxis. Think twice before getting into a taxi that has more than one person sitting in it. Almost all taxi-related crimes happen after dark and usually with people they pick up on Nevsky or other areas frequented by the well-to-do, like bars. Just exercise caution.

    Was this review helpful?

  • tvdm's Profile Photo

    St Petersburg isn't really...

    by tvdm Written Sep 12, 2002

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    St Petersburg isn't really more dangerous than any other large city. Many people are scared of the Russian mafia, but they are more a threat to companies than to tourists. Having said that, you must be aware of small crime in St Pet and use a lot of common sense. Don't wander off into tacky areas, avoid quiet streets after dark and don't hail cars for taxi rides when you're alone, use official taxi's instead.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Do not think, please, that I...

    by maxovna Written Sep 12, 2002

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Do not think, please, that I want to frighten you, but Saint Petersburg IS a criminal city, like other capitals of the world. Be careful at night, use only municipal taxies, don't ask for a lift in a private car - you never know the driver's intentions. Do not carry much cash at a time.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Unless you are making the trip...

    by polrbear Written Sep 7, 2002

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Unless you are making the trip to or from the airport, a taxi ride in St. Petersburg should not cost you more than $5 (roughly 150 rubles). The metro system is fantastic, so unless you are pressed for time you don't need the taxi services. As with everything in Russia, as soon as they know you aren't Russian, the prices go up. Hold your ground on cab fare prices, you won't offend anyone. Hailing a cab is similar to any other European country. Stand on the curb or step off slightly and extend your arm out and slightly downward. Don't be surprised if a regular citizen stops to see where you are going - it's a way for them to make some extra money.

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Saint Petersburg

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

9 travelers online now

Comments (1)

  • Jul 13, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    I can assure you that taxi scams are currently operating in St. Petersburg. I cut my RU trip short due to having been abducted, assaulted by, and taken for a generous sum of money by a taxi driver / thug just two days ago. This happened in broad daylight, where I found the cab at a taxi stand outside of The Hermitage. Official-looking cabs were lined up at the museum exit, and customers were getting into them on a first come / first served basis. I got into a Mercedes cab that looked like a town car to go to my hotel, which was 2 miles away. The cab windows were darkened, and things became very scary very fast as the driver sped past my hotel and into a run-down neighborhood. He had control of the door locks so I couldn't exit the cab. He demanded money. I didn't have much on me, so he stopped in front of a bank so I could go in and use an atm. I waited inside the bank, where no one spoke English, and my Russian is extremely basic. I got some money. He said he wanted 2000 rubles (around $64). I left the bank and didn't see the driver, but he was waiting for me about a block from my hotel, where he jumped out of the car and tried to force me back into the vehicle. He grabbed my arms and we struggled into the street. I started to scream for help, and not one single passer-by so much as looked in my direction. No one wanted to get involved or they were simply too passive. I got free of the driver and sprinted to the hotel, where the driver followed me inside. I told the hotel staff person what had happened, she and the driver exchanged a few words in Russian, then turned to me and, with a terrified look on her face, advised me to give the guy some money. She recommended 4000 rubles. I paid the guy to go away. As he left, he said he would be waiting for me outside. I went to my room, called the airline, and changed my flight to the next one home. I did manage to take a photo of the vehicle license plate number, though I now realize that was a futile gesture.

View all Saint Petersburg hotels