As you've probably heard or read - many Russians are using some Taxi APPs in order to get around the city. Someone will suggest a specific company because of the pleasant experience, some that they've traveled many times and accumulated good bonus miles, some just because the price is very low. Generally, the trips are relatively cheap but there are few cons and pros to know about.
- Yandex Taxi is a software company and transportation services aggregator. Seeking personal attention is useless as you'll not get any.
- Yandex Taxi App is a fast way of getting a car to your door, just make sure that your smartphone is having an internet connection and figure out how the App works.
- Yandex Taxi and Uber have merged in Russia, therefore don't be surprised when you will get an Uber branded vehicle after ordering the service from the Yandex Taxi App. It's also normal in Russia that the driver will subscribe to several aggregators. Here comes the problem that he will work around the clock to make a living and save on proper rest or sleep.
- Always keep in mind that often (50/50 chance) you will be driven by amateur fellow, who have subscribed to several aggregators (Yandex, Uber, Gett, Bolt, Vezet) and merely giving you a lift in order to get an extra buck on the way home from his work or during the weekend. Many guys from the Eastern republics are sharing a car and even the driver's license.
- The ride prices may vary, depending on the time of the day, traffic conditions, day of the week, weather, etc. One can pay for the ride 300 RUB and come back for 700 RUB for the same distance.
- There are no or almost no English-speaking drivers which will be sent to you by Yandex or other aggregators. Make sure you enter correct pick-up and the destination addresses as the drivers can read Latin letters though.
- Before ordering: it's very important to consider the number of passengers and luggage. Many cars are small and having a child seat in the trunk. Some will end up holding a suitcase on their knees.
- Many drivers are coming from small towns of former Eastern Soviet republics and their driving habits are way below perfect. We're also strongly suggesting not to involve in any argument with them.
- Be prepared to end up in a car that smells like an ashtray from time to time. Many drivers smoke and not hesitating of doing so in their cars, thinking that 10 minutes with the windows open will help get rid of the smell, which is actually terrible.
- Do yourself a favor and don't take the cheapest vehicle option. Comfort or business class will bring you a much better experience and will have a good chance of not spoiling your stay in Russia.
- Some bank cards may not work with taxi apps. Have cash on hand in smaller bills and avoid giving 5000 RUB notes. Firstly: your driver might not have a change, secondly: you can end up having a pile of fake money given to you as change.
- The driver will always appreciate a tip, but that's purely at your own discretion.
- Using a taxi in St Petersburg in Summer during the night - don't be alarmed if your driver will be taking a longer road. Consider the drawbridge factor and plan your timing and a trip accordingly. The trip from the popular Rubinsteina street to Vasiljevsky island (3 km) could take up to good 35-40 minutes via the Western bypass highway.
- There was a bad experience with advanced bookings on many occasions. The driver will simply not show up at the requested time. The applications designed the way to find you the closest to your car as soon as possible. That's the main point to have it. Ordering a vehicle for 03:15 am pickup will be at your own risk, especially on your way to the airport. The support desk will just apologize in case of no show and will assure you that it will not happen again. Which will not help you in this particular case.
- Use the Taxi App for short city trips, though the best way to experience St. Petersburg is by feet or on top of the hop-on-hop-off bus.
- Pre-book St Petersburg Airport Transfer with an English-speaking driver from the relevant company and get a wealth of information and useful tips from the locals on your way to the accommodation or just have a pleasant chat. Being picked up right from the arrival hall by the transfer specialist will bring you much further than questionable savings and the transportation arrangements onsite.
The summary and all comments are strictly based on the experience of our customers. The taxi apps work well in Russia and there are many excellent drivers providing a great service every day. One just has to know how to use the APPs and what to expect.
To wrap up: stay wise and safe. Welcome to Russia!