Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What We Don't Have in America #7

#7 Marshrutka (Маршрутка)

A marshrutka, or marshrutneh taxi as they are known, is something between a bus and a van. The best translation would probably be shuttle bus. They drive specific routes throughout the city according to the number they display. There are also special ones that travel between cities. Unlike a bus, you can flag one down pretty much anywhere you see them and they'll let you out anywhere you ask along their route. They are more expensive than the buses, travel to more areas within the city, and usually get you there a little faster than the bus can. People will often sit down before getting their money out to pay and then pass it to the front for the driver to make change and then pass it back to them through the sea of people. The scary part is watching the driver make change while he's weaving in and out of congested traffic at a relatively dangerous speed.

The main reason we try to avoid them and take the bus is that they are usually packed. The seats seem to always be full which means we end up standing most of the time. Just because a driver's marshrutka is full doesn't mean he won't stop for more passengers. He will often yell back and tell the rear passengers to squeeze in tighter. In the heat of the summer this can make for an unpleasant ride at best. In the winter time, heavy jackets and clothing create an even tighter fit. The running joke is that if you asked a marshrutka driver how many people he can fit in his marshrutka, the answer would always be "one more". The real trick is trying to get a family of four off the marshrutka when you're buried twenty-five people deep.


Conor & Koren said...
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Conor & Koren said...

We feel your pain!
Love, Conor and Koren