A Small Dictionary of St. Petersburg Metro

A Small Dictionary of St. Petersburg Metro
22 August 2017

As every authentic big city, St. Petersburg has its own metro: this is the most useful mean of transport, especially if you need to reach a distant place very quickly or if you have to travel from an extremity of the city to the other.   Maybe during the summer, it would be better to enjoy the city and walk through it (when it doesn’t rain, of course!), instead of breathing the “healthy” air of the metro.  But if you prefer to enjoy the underground world and do as the Russians do, then this small dictionary could help you to become familiar with it.

Let’s start!

1. Жетон (Zheton – Token)

When I got in a metro station here for the first time, I didn’t know how the transport pass worked and I decided to buy just some tickets for the day. Looking around me, I saw people buying something like tokens from the machines at the entrance of the station but I didn’t see any paper ticket; then I went near a machine and I saw that there was written продажа жетонов (tokens) and I thought “What for?”.  I didn’t want to buy something wrong and went ask for a ticket to the cashier…and she sold me a token! Yes, in St. Petersburg single routes correspond to tokens and not to paper tickets. Of course, if you’re planning to stay for a long time it would be better to buy a transport pass that is cheaper than single routes.

2. Автомат (Avtomat – Ticket machine)

You can find ticket machines (Автомат) in every metro station in St. Petersburg. There you can buy жетоны (tokens) or top up your электронная карта «Подорожник» (electronic pass) and I think that is the easiest way to avoid misunderstandings with the Russian staff, especially if it’s complicated for you to be understood. Bu if you prefer to speak to a human, go to the касса (kassa – cashier), it will be an interesting conversation exercise and you will learn a lot. Don’t hesitate!

3. Эскалатор (Escalator)

St. Petersburg metro is one of the the world’s deepest subway (the deepest world’s subway is in Kiev) and all the metro stations are equipped with эскалатор (escalator). Thus, don’t forget that if you don’t want to be late for a date or for school, you have always to consider that even reaching the platform by escalator will take you some time. As an alternative, you can run down the escalator to the platform, but this is only for those who aren’t afraid of heights! If you are always on time, I suggest you can take with you a good book and read it while standing on the escalator, you may have enough time to finish the whole chapter.

4. Час пик (Rush-hour)

I’m sure that after some days in St. Petersburg you will have the possibility to experience the час пик (cas pik – rush-hour) and maybe this word will become your worst nightmare. But don’t worry, because the traffic in the subway is nothing compared to the street traffic (пробка – probka), that’s why I suggest you take a taxi or the car at this time only if you have a ЧП (чрезвычайное происшествие – an emergency) or an important appointment.

5. Подземка (Padzemka – Subway)

Maybe you will not hear this word very often but this is the Russian term for underground. In St. Petersburg, there are only underground routes and no elevated railways; you will certainly notice that this is the most used means of transport in the city, serving about 2 million passengers daily.  Luckily, the beautiful murals and artwork are all next to the platform so you can visit all of the stations listed below with just one ticket. Moreover, almost all of them are on the same line.

Stations not to miss:

  • Avtovo (line 1) – it has magnificent columns and chandeliers that make you feel like you are in an underground Russian palace. This station has also many bas-reliefs representing Soviet industry.
  • Ploshad Vosstanyia (line 1, 3) – in this station you can also notice some bas-reliefs. These represent revolutionary events in Russian history and don’t forget that this is the only metro station where you can find a bas-relief of Stalin.
  • Admiralteyskaya (line 5) – this is the deepest station in Russia and the second deepest in the world (the deepest is in Kiev). Once you are inside you can’t really tell that it is deep, except for the fact it takes close to 10 minutes to get from ground level down all the escalators to the platform. I really liked all the murals at this station as well. St Petersburg is a navy city and they are very proud of their maritime history.


Now is your turn to get lost in this underground world, don’t miss it!!

Posted by Lara Malacarne

Hello! I am Lara and I'll be interning until the end of August at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg, writing about this wonderful city and the local culture.

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