When in Ukraine, riding the Kiev Metro safely is something most visitors can approach safely and with confidence. Visitors to this Ukrainian capital will see evidence of the previous violence of the Maidan (Independence Square) protests and especially in those areas will find shrines erected to memorialize those whose lives were lost in that turmoil.
There may be conflict in Eastern Ukraine, but the earlier events on Kiev’s Maidan Square appear to be over, and so today travel to most parts of Ukraine is safe. The people of Kiev are friendly, the city is beautiful and bounding with history and culture, and the transportation system will take travelers just about anywhere they would want to go in Kiev.
The first idea for an underground subway was proposed in 1916, before the Bolshevik revolution, but with revolution came a civil war, and the idea for a metro system in Kiev was shelved. It was only after the war against Nazi Germany that finally the reality of a metro system for Ukraine’s capital was begun. Construction started in 1949, and today Kiev residents and visitors enjoy a modern transportation that is on-time, inexpensive, and reliable.
At the time when construction began, Kiev was the third largest city in the Soviet Union, and so it was not an accident that the Moscow and Saint Petersburg metro systems were begun first. While three other Ukrainian cities have subway systems, the one in Kiev is by far the largest in Ukraine with three lines, and the 52 stations today accommodate 1.4 million passengers daily. Of the three lines, the first is colored red on Kiev metro maps, the second is shown in blue, and the third line is green.
The Metro is easily identified by the large M logo that marks station locations across the city. The Cyrillic alphabet spelling is МЕТРО and is the same whether in Ukrainian or Russian. No matter how one spells it, the subway is a thoroughly convenient and quick way to get around the city, and visitors to Ukraine will find it worthwhile to learn how to ride the Kiev metro safely.
The first line to open was the Sviatoshynsko-Brovarska Line in 1960. This line includes the Arsenalna station, which at 105 meters is the deepest subway station in the world. Kiev lies along the large and beautiful Dnieper river, the best-known river in Ukraine, and metro stations on the eastern side of Kiev are typically above ground. The second line, Kurenivsko-Chervonoarmiyska, was opened in 1976, and by 1989, the third line, Syretsko-Pecherska, began operation along the north side of the city. This line features larger platforms and officials began to add access for disabled persons in newer stations. Three of the stations in the heart of the Kiev Metro serve as interchanges between the lines.
The Metro is owned by the city and managed by Kiev Metropolitan, a city-owned transportation company. Fares are reasonable for riders, but the city says that the Kiev subway system operates at an annual deficit, due to inadequate rider ticket pricing. Plastic cards for multiple rides are purchased by some, but many riders purchase a daily round plastic token. The cost for one ride, regardless of destination or length of travel, is roughly the same as 25 cents. Tokens are inserted in turnstiles at the entry to stations.
Ukraine’s hosting of Euro 2012 meant that officials were ready to upgrade Kiev for tourism, and every station received bilingual signs along with maps in English. The residents of this beautiful and historic city are confident that future visitors to Ukraine’s historic capital will enjoy the Metro as one of the city’s most memorable attractions while learning to ride the interconnected system safely.
By Jim Hanemaayer