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How To Pay for Bus Rides in Russia and Eastern Europe

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The bus systems in Eastern Europe, and even within Russia itself, vary in how they function, especially when it comes to paying for a ride. This can be somewhat confusing to travelers to Eastern Europe. Here's how to pay for buses that don't use a ticket system.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Varies

Here's How:

  1. Locate your bus stop. Sometimes, these are marked quite clearly. Other times, the bus stop might only be identified by the line of people standing to wait for the bus. You may ask another passenger if your bus stops there. This is also a good opportunity to ask if the bus requires ticket purchase if you aren't sure. Passengers should be able to point you to a ticket kiosk if you need to purchase a ticket.
  2. In the event that the bus does not require passenger tickets, you will be expected to pay upon boarding, or upon exiting, the bus. Buses may not stop automatically. You may need to hail the bus by waving your hand when you see the correct bus approach.
  3. Board the bus. Sometimes, it may be okay to board from the back of the bus. If you see locals doing this, and the front of the bus seems crowded, follow their lead.
  4. If you don't have your money ready, now's the time to dig for it. Exact change is appreciated, since bus fares tend to be quite affordable (you may only have to pay a few cents). The driver may accept your fare directly. If there is a stern woman sitting at the front of the bus accepting money, give your fare to her. She will make change for you if necessary.
  5. If you are in the back of a very crowded bus, it may be necessary to pass the change up to the driver. This seems like a bizarre way of handling payment, but it works. The other passengers know what to do - you will be handed money and be expected to pass it up to the driver, as well. Just go with it.
  6. If you haven't paid, but have reached your stop, simply drop off your bus fare when you exit through the front of the bus.
  7. Don't be tempted to skip bus fare. The bus fare amounts to very little (it is usually posted in the window or at the front of the bus) and is a good way to get rid of your extra coins.

Tips:

  1. Have bus fare ready prior to boarding the bus. Keep correct change in a separate pocket in your bag or on your person.
  2. Offer seats to fellow passengers - women, the elderly, and mothers with babies.
  3. Keep your bag close at hand. The crowded nature of the bus can mean that pickpockets have plenty of opportunities to steal.
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