How to get a taxi in Moscow

How to get a taxi in Moscow

After covering how to get around the city by metro, I will show you how to get a taxi in Moscow. More often than not, taxis are a better option than the metro. And I probably don’t need to tell you that you’ll absolutely need to rely on taxis in Moscow nightlife.

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So here’s what you’ll find out:

  • What a gypsy cab is and why you should avoid taking them
  • Why you should use apps to get a taxi and which ones are the best
  • How much does it cost to get a taxi in Moscow

By the end you’ll be all prepared to avoid merciless negotiations with shady Moscow cab drivers!


What is a gypsy cab and why you should avoid taking gypsy cabs in Moscow

Since cabs existed before the advent of smartphones and apps, people had to find a way to call one as fast as possible. Russians are, by and large, a very inventive people and this is where gypsy cabs come in.

If you’re looking for a ride you stick your hand out, just like you would do to call a regular taxi. Only that in Moscow you’ll pretty soon have a growing number of cars stop by you, eager to give you a lift. Unfortunately these will not be the city’s BMWs and G-Wagens but more the Ladas and Zhigulis with more or less shady looking people at the wheel.

This is the basic procedure of how to get yourself a gypsy cab. These unofficial (and technically illegal) rides used to be all over Moscow 10 years ago or so. With smartphones offering a quick, easy and secure way of calling cabs, these unofficial ones are gradually dying out now. You’ll still get plenty of offers though, if you decide to get one.

However, I would definitely advise against that. If you don’t speak Russian, you are 120% sure to get ripped off. Even if you do speak Russian, it will 99% of the time be more expensive than a legal taxi. Not to mention that you’ll ride in a shitty car with god knows who. I’m not going to go into all the things that have happened and can possibly happen, just stay away and stay safe.

Why you should use apps to get a taxi and which app is the best in Moscow

Again, thanks to smartphones I can’t think of a single person these days that still actually calls a company to get a taxi, at least not in Moscow. That might be a different story in a smaller Russian city but definitely not here.

Apps are easy to use, fast, convenient and cheap. You can also get a fancier business or luxury car if you want. Here are the 3 main apps that I use and one for executive rides that I have not tried yet.

Yandex Taxi

Installation and ease of use

After you download the app and verify your phone number you're good to go. No need to register a credit card, you can choose to pay in cash. The app is really easy to use and you can for example add several destinations right away.

Prices and options

Yandex Taxi is nowadays actually often the cheapest option to get a ride. Within the city center you will find it hard to spend more than 500 Rubles (~8$), even if prices increase at peak times. Yandex Taxi gives you the option to choose a fixed price or ride by the meter. The former is usually preferable.

In terms of cabs themselves, you get several options ranging from basic Kias (cheapest) to Mercedes E-types (business, most expensive). You can also call minivans or child-friendly taxis. 

The basic cabs are often, but not always, yellow. I found drivers to be ok, usually not talkative or friendly but they get you safely to your destination. 

Overall impression

I would recommend Yandex Taxi as the cheapest and often quickest option to get a taxi in Moscow.

Uber

Installation and ease of use

Just like with Yandex Taxi you download Uber and verify your number. If I remember correctly (it's been a while), you also have to enter a credit card number. You can choose to pay in cash as well but be aware that no driver in Moscow ever has change. Unlike at Yandex, you can only enter one destination.

Prices and options

Uber used to be the cheapest option but recently I found that it's often a bit more expensive than at least Yandex Taxi. Since the two companies are going to cooperate in Russia in the future, I expect prices to become very similar soon. 

Uber always gives you a fixed price and four options to choose from (basic, comfort, business, child-friendly). You can't call bigger cars and there's also no cab-sharing like in the US for example. Some cars are yellow, some are "civilian". Drivers are pretty much the same like anywhere else but you often run into some damn incompetent ones too.

Overall impression

Uber is a decent and fast option although it can be more expensive, especially if they have a price surge (which can happen to the experienced party person Saturday night). Their customer support is friendly and any issues are generally resolved quickly. Ther drivers are probably the weakest out of all the big companies.

Gettaxi

Installation and ease of use

Just like Yandex Taxi, Gettaxi is good to go without a credit card. The app is userfriendly and easy to navigate.

Prices and options

Gettaxi is really similar to the other options. Prices can be a few % higher but you might also catch a cheaper ride if the other apps have a price surge. The only difference is that you can also choose to get a VIP option and call a Mercedes S-type or BMW 7 series, which will be around 3-4 times the price of the cheapest car. 

The drivers at Gettaxi are usually pretty competent and I've found them to be better than Uber for example. No unasked for conversations, less trouble finding the pickup spot, just overall a better experience. Sometimes you also get nicer cars even if you ride economy class (a Ford vs a Kia for example). 

Overall impression

I have been using Gettaxi more and more recently and I am pretty satisfied with them. Gett is usually 10% more expensive than Uber but I found it to be well worth that difference in terms of service.

Wheely

Installation and ease of use

The app is easy to install and use. You have to enter a credit card to get a taxi though. Unfortunately Wheely does not show you the price of the ride beforehand.

Prices and options

Wheely is an app that specializes in executive rides. As such, you don't get cheap ass cars driving you around. Wheely starts where Uber ends. The cheapest options or Mercedes E-types but you can also get a Maybach if you fancy. In total there's three options + cars with seats for children or Mercedes minivans for groups. I've never seen SUV's as taxis in Moscow.

Since I have not actually used it, I can only comment "from afar". Prices are in theory comparable to the other taxi companies but Wheely does not offer fixed pricing. This might backfire if you run into one of Moscow's ubiquitous traffic jams. Presumably price will not be an issue for anyone who uses this app regularly.

Waiting times are longer for the more expensive options, especially if you're not dead in the center. After all, there's only so many Maybachs roaming the streets of Moscow as taxis.

I can't comment on the service but heard only good things from people who have actually used it.

Overall impression

The app makes a good impression and presumably you get a good customer experience if you're looking for more than a basic lift. I would definitely try Wheely first before using one of the business options offered by the other companies.

Keep in mind that 90% of the time drivers do not speak English. That is fine though since you basically just want to get from A to B. It can be a bit iffy when they pick you up. My advice is to indicate a spot where they will have no problem to see you, so you avoid a useless phone conversation.

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