Uber in St. Petersburg and Moscow!

Now there is Uber in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Upon arriving in St. Petersburg or Moscow, many students depend on the metro to get around the city. It’s the easiest system to figure out, since metro maps are readily available and stops are clearly marked. But what are your options if you need to get home after midnight when the metro closes, or simply want an alternative to public transport? One useful option which I’ve been using here in St. Petersburg is Uber.

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Definitely a better view than the metro! Sunset at Petrovsky (Петровский) Stadium, as seen from the backseat of an Uber

Uber is a private transport network service based around a smartphone app, allowing customers to order a private car as an alternative to a taxi. It originated in the U.S. in 2009 and quickly became popular worldwide over the following years as “everyone’s private driver”. In Russia, the service is active in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Many of you probably used Uber before coming to Russia, as the service is offered in hundreds of cities in 57 countries worldwide. Even if not, you may have read about Uber in the news, since its introduction to the market has been rather controversial in many countries. You’ll certainly find no shortage of news articles if you are interested in learning more about these issues.

If you’re new to the concept and would like to use Uber here in Russia, here is a brief guide:

To get started, you can simply download the Uber app on your smartphone. You’ll need to enter your credit card details, and all rides you take with the service will be automatically charged to your card — this way, there is no need to exchange cash with the driver, which is extremely convenient.

To request a ride, all you have to do is open the app on your phone, confirm your location, and press a button to request a car. You can also enter your destination and get an estimate of how much the ride will cost before you confirm your order. You will then see a photo of the driver, his or her name and car model, and the license plate number, so you’ll know who to look out for. You can also see, with a live map, where the driver is and when he or she will arrive (usually within 10 minutes), so you won’t need to wait on the street!

When you reach your destination, the app will automatically update that the ride is over, charge your card, and ask you to rate your driver. That’s all! It really is an easy way to get around the city, especially at times when it’s tough to find a cab on the street or if you are nervous about ordering one on the phone in Russian.

Uber rates within St. Petersburg are very competitive, averaging 100-300 rubles within the center in my experience. Please do note, though, that it is common practice for Uber to raise prices during busy times (this seems to happen right after the metro closes or right before a bridge opens, when everyone is trying to get home!) If this is the case, you will see a special screen stating how much higher the price will be (for example, 2.8x the normal fare) and you will be asked to confirm that you accept this increased rate before you can request a car — so there are no hidden surprises! 

Even if you download the Uber app in Russia, you’ll be able to use your account in other countries where Uber is operating, so it may come in handy for you in the future. And of course, if you have any other suggestions, please feel free to comment!

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