The public transportation system in Moscow is moderately accessible, much to the surprise of many. Use of this transportation network will require some planning for disabled travelers, especially those in wheelchairs. An ability to understand and recognize the Cyrillic alphabet will also make its use much easier for travelers of all abilities. The city’s subway system is not accessible to wheelchairs. The vast majority of city buses and trolley buses offer step-free access.
Aeroexpress Train (Airport Express)
The Aeroexpress (Аэроэкспресс in Russian/Cyrillic), or Airport Express, is a rail service which connects the city’s three primary airports with train stations inside the city center. The journeys take approximately 30-45 minutes. Each airport is served by a dedicated Aeroexpress line, each with service to a different railway station in the city. The three routes are listed below:
- Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) to Belorussky Train Station
- Domodedovo International Airport (DME) to Paveletsky Train Station
- Vnukovo International Airport (VKO) to Kievskiy Train Station
Fares on each of the three Aeroexpress trains can be purchased at the airport or rail terminal ticket offices and self-serve kiosks. Tickets may be purchased with cash or major credit card. The fare for tickets is 450 RUB each way or 900 RUB round trip. There is no discount offered to seniors or persons with disabilities.
The Aeroexpress is fully accessible to wheelchair users. Each train has at least one car with a fold out wheelchair ramp, allowing barrier free access to the train cabin. Wheelchair accessible train cars are equipped with a large, accessible bathroom. Flag down the conductor or station personnel for assistance deploying the ramp.
All Aeroexpress trains are nonstop and provide direct access between the airport and designated city rail station. Accessible city bus connections are available at each of the three train stations within the city. Additional information on the Aeroexpress can be found at aeroexpress.ru/en.
The Moscow Metro Subway is spread across 12 lines and serves 196 stations throughout the city. While some stations have recently had elevators installed, the system cannot be considered wheelchair accessible. Large gaps of up to 6 inches exist between the subway train and station platforms. Trains are often not level with the platform and require a step up of a similar distance.
Stations without elevators require travelers to ascend or descend long flights of stairs. I strongly recommend that you use the accessible city bus network and avoid the subway.
City Bus and Trolleybus System
Moscow is served by an increasingly modern city bus system with hundreds of routes/lines. Every major city street is served by at least one bus line. Busses are numbered and lettered with route information. The network consists of normal, gas-powered city buses and the largest electricity-powered trolleybus system in the world.
The majority of city buses and trolleybuses now have lowered floors and are wheelchair accessible. The door at the center of the bus is equipped with a manual ramp which the bus operator will extend for wheelchair users. These ramps can be quite steep, but the bus operator can assist with pushing the wheelchair up the ramp. Wheelchair accessible buses are equipped with a securement space for wheelchairs with tie downs/straps and a seatbelt. Priority reserved seating is available for seniors and persons with disabilities.
All wheelchair accessible buses are marked with the international symbol of access (the wheelchair icon) at the center door or on the front of the vehicle. Wheelchair entry is possible only through the center door, where the retractable or fold out ramp is located. Wheelchair travelers ride the city bus and trolleybus free of charge. You should flag down the approaching bus if wish to ride, so that the operator can maneuver the bus close to the curb for ramp deployment.
On-street rail trams
The City of Moscow is served by 44 on street tram lines, which run on recessed rails and are powered by electricity. All trams require riders to climb several steps in order to access the passenger cabin. There are no implements which make wheelchair access possible. Disabled travelers should plan to avoid any routes which require the use of a tram. City buses adequately serve all parts of the city in which the trams operate.
City Sightseeing Moscow Hop-on/off Tour Bus
Although it is not managed by the city, the City Sightseeing Moscow tour bus travels to all of the major sights in Moscow and allows patrons to hop-on and hop-off at nearly 40 stops. The bus stops at or near all of the sights I have reviewed on this website. The next bus is available 30-40 minutes after the one before and the entire route circle takes 60 minutes to complete. Buses are wheelchair accessible, with fold-out ramps at the rear doors. One dedicated wheelchair space is available on each bus.
Passengers are provided with a set of headphones which can be plugged in to the at-seat ports. An audio guide is available in multiple languages, including English. Tickets for adults, good for 24 hours from the time of purchase, are available for 700 RUB. They can be purchased online with credit card, or onboard the bus with cash. Tickets are provided free of charge to wheelchair users and for other persons with proof of disability. Discounts are also available to seniors with identification. For additional information on the Moscow City Sightseeing Bus or to download route maps, visit city-sightseeing.com.