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Quick, flexible and cheap, Marshrutka’s are local shared taxis of Russia, operating on fixed routes.
A Marshrutka in Sochi
A Marshrutka is a minibus, a shared taxi seen is most of the erstwhile Soviet states. Similar to privately-owned public transportation in many countries, these vehicles operate on fixed routes, picking up and dropping passengers on the way, often waiting until they get full and squeezing more passengers in.
I traveled by Marshrutka on several occasions, in Sochi, in the Golden Ring cities and in St. Petersburg and I loved it (oh my hatred of private taxis and love for crowded public transport!) All these vehicles ran on the honor system – you pay your fare, usually fixed and clearly displayed, on your own. If you don’t know, just ask: Skolka s-menya? (Сколько с меня? / स्कोल्का स् मी्न्या?) meaning “How much from me?” You could even ask other passengers to pass the money to the driver and expect change to come back the same way.
Marshrutka’s were introduced in Russia in the 1930′s but their presence boomed post liberalization (1990′s) when private ownership of public transport grew. Equivalent vehicles that I have traveled in in other countries are: tuk tuk / tempo (India), Sherut (Isreal) and Collectivo (Peru).