Carsharing in St. Petersburg – an overview
One of the first things I noticed when I arrived in Russia was the sheer number of companies offering carsharing services. At first, I wasn’t used to it, but then it became normal for me to see people standing next to a car while holding their mobile phone and within seconds unlocking the vehicle and driving away. And since this appears to be a daily thing here in St. Petersburg, I decided to give you a short insight into the different carsharing services operating in this beautiful city.
1. A curious fact to start with
There are an estimated 1.4 billion cars and 7.6 billion people on Earth. Assuming there is room for five people in every car, we could distribute almost the entire population (7.1 billion) in all of them. Of course, this calculation is merely a concept, but it allows us to have an idea of the immense (and unnecessary) number of cars that already exist in our planet.
Having said that, I dare say that it is not necessary to travel the world with your own car (or even to own one, for that matter), as in most parts of the world (and presumably also in your hometown, dear reader) there are carsharing companies that can facilitate the way we get around.
2. So… why give carsharing a chance?
In addition to being a more environmentally friendly option, carsharing has proven to be a cost-effective alternative, as (in most cases) you pay only for the time you use the vehicle, thus eliminating the costs associated with owning a car. It also allows users to be more flexible and not be dependent on public transport schedules, giving them the possibility to leave the car at any point in the city as long as it is permitted by the carsharing service.
Another advantage is that the rental of the vehicles takes place via an app, thus eliminating all kinds of intermediaries. And it goes without saying that the service is immediate, convenient, and quite easy to use!
3. Some relevant general information about driving in Russia
You must be at least 18 years old to drive in in this country. For the first six months after arriving in Russia, tourists can drive with their current driving license. However, driving in Russia requires you to have your license translated and notarised by an official translator. Therefore, it is necessary to get an International Driving Permit (IDP), which is a translation of your license into nine languages that must accompany your national license.
It is also advised to always carry your ID, passport and visa, in case you get pulled over by police. Registration and insurance documents are also very important, although in most cases this is taken over by the carsharing company.
If you want to know more about driving in Russia, I highly recommend to take a look at this page.
4. Carsharing companies in St. Petersburg
I tried to contact the following carsharing companies so I could provide you with first-hand information on how their service works and what to look out for. Unfortunately, I did not receive any response, so I took it upon myself to find out a little about each of the carsharing companies operating in St. Petersburg (some basic information regarding the companies’ tariffs can be found in this article).
Overall, the registration process is similar in every company (although some steps may vary):
– Download the app of the carsharing company of your preference.
– Register yourself with all the necessary documents (usually: pictures of your passport and your driving license).
– Register a credit card.
– Sign/accept the terms and conditions
After that, the process to get a car through the app is very easy and self-explanatory (there will be a separate blog about this topic soon).
Here is a list of the most known car sharing providers in St. Petersburg:
This company is known for being the largest carsharing company in the world, and in January 2020 its fleet consisted of more than 21’000 cars. The official launch of Yandex Drive was announced in 2017, and only a year later the service went live in Moscow with a fleet of 750 cars. Yandex Drive started out with a wide fleet and pioneered among Russian services in providing users with flexible pricing according to the demand for cars and the current situation on the road.
To use this service, you will need a Russian passport and a driving license (as stated on their website). I could not find out whether tourists with an international driving license were also allowed to use the service. Also, you must be over 21 years old and have two years driving experience in category “B”.
The cars may be driven in any area (even outside the ring road for 250 km), but the rental needs to be completed in the city.
Rates are flexible, and they start from 5 rubles / min. The program calculates the price, which is determined by the demand for cars during the rental.
CitiDrive is a part of urban mobility platform Citimobil. Formerly known as “YouDrive”, this company offers a fast and convenient short-time car rental service.
While looking at their homepage I read that, to sign up, you will need a driving license, a passport and a bank card. No visits to the office and other paperwork is needed, nothing else but the Citydrive App. It is also mentioned that parking fees, insurance policies and among other things are included. Lastly, it is nowhere explicitly mentioned that a Russian passport is needed, which might be a good alternative for tourists.
The tariffs vary from 8 rubles when the car is in motion and from 2.5 rubles when it’s not moving. Free parking is available from 20:00 pm to 08:00 am outside the green zone.
The company was founded in 2015 in Moscow with a fleet of 100 cars. Today, with 15,000 vehicles and more than one million members, it is one of the largest carsharing organizations in Russia, operating in the cities of Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Nizhniy Novgorod, Ekaterinburg, Samara, Kazan, Novosibirsk, Krasnodar and Tula.
You can choose between the “Basic” and the “Skazka” plan. With the “Basic” plan you will have to pay 7 rubles per minute when the car is in motion and 2.5 rubles when it’s not moving. The “Skaza” tariff offers one of the “most profitable tariffs among those offered by different operators”. If the car is in motion, the rental cost per minute will be 8 rubles, and when it is not moving, it’s expected to cost around 2.5 rubles. The reason why it is one of the most attractive plans, is because “in case of getting into an accident, the responsibility of the client will be – 0.”
After signing the agreement with Colesa, the user gets unlimited access to the company’s fleet. The user can then choose from a variety of car models equipped with automatic transmission and built-in navigation system.
Colesa has its own way of calculating their fare. For every kilometer driven, the user pays 2.5 rubles per minute while the car is in motion, plus 18 rubles per kilometer driven. Overnight parking is available free of charge from 22:00 hours until 08:00 hours and the area of parking covers almost entire St. Petersburg.
This company is also operating in the city of St. Petersburg, but in comparison to other carsharing providers, there are notably less cars to be found on the streets.
Carsmile offers its services at a rate of 9 rubles per minute while the car is in motion and 2.5 rubles per minute when it’s standing still. Parking time is free from 00:00 am to 06:00 am.
According to the company, they are “the new standard for urban mobility”, as they provide users with modern cars without any complications or extra costs.
The cost per minute while using the company’s least expensive car is 5 rubles when it’s in motion and 2 rubles per minute when it’s standing still. The rates increase depending on the chosen car.
If one day you arrive in St. Petersburg or Moscow and plan to give carsharing a go, I hope this article will serve as a useful first tool for you to choose your provider!