What Russia needs is a good English website that details how to use public transport within cities. The metros in St Petersburg and Moscow are great, to a point (the English is severely lacking once you get past the point where your money has been taken from you), but the bus, marstruka and tram systems in other cities are definitely local transport for local people.
As the man from Shanghai said, no one speaks English in this
country and that’s especially true on the city transit systems, which I understand, I wouldn’t expect a London bus driver to start explaining how Oyster works in Russian either.
Google was brilliant further east. In Yaroslavl, using the free wifi at the autovokzal (bus station) we were able to identify that the numbers 72 and 76 buses would take us from there to the train station, where our hostel was, and then back again for our bus the next day.
Our ride anywhere
tickets were 16 rubles each and our conductress clearly didn’t like the 10 kopeck coins (100 kopecks to the ruble) that she had offloaded on her. But that’s what I like about no one speaking English, if you’re unhappy, I haven’t got a clue. Smile. Shrug. Angliski.
Here in Irkustk, 12 rubles got us on the number 1 (or 2) tram from the IRKUTSK PASS (main passenger railway station – there are several others, make sure you get the right one – to the city centre area. More kopecks, more smiles and shrugs.
There is an English language site that lets you plan your journey in Irkutsk, and the Tourist Info (great map of how to find it at the Railway Station on the outside wall, to the left as you exit) maps also detail the tram and bus routes around the main parts of the city.
There was a rumor that the trams in Irkutsk were trialling wifi on them. Interesting, said Nige, they’re so rattling and bone jarring that I’d be amazed if you could actually type something on a device while moving. I didn’t try.