Yerevan’s metro – the underground transport system (launched in 1981), is a true blessing on hot summer days. The Soviet built metro serves 10 stations and is only 13,4 kilometers long short. I mean – it is quite short actually and mostly serves the central Yerevan. The number of passengers is surprisingly quite low, ranging between 40-42 thousand on regular working days, although it’s the cheapest public transport available costing less than 15 cents (50 drams).
The metro wasn’t very fit for tourists until recently, as all signs were only in Armenian and Russian. About a month ago I met a lost French tourist in “Baghramian” station. The poor woman had no idea where she was and where to go – looking at the map in her hands with a lost expression on her face. I accompanied her all the way to “Hanrapetakan” (Republic Square) metro station, so she could find her hotel.
Luckily, things are changing. We heard back in February, that the government, which subsidizes about half of Yerevan metro’s budget by providing around 1 billion drams, has decided to allocate an additional 400 million drams for renovation works. Those works are now complete at “Yeritasardakan” metro station – everything looks pretty good, and most importantly – there are now signs also in Latin latters (English), which is surely a welcome addition for tourists.
More importantly, since February 14, 2009, Yerevan’s metro redesigned its old payment system and now they have magnetic plastic payment cards.
“Zoravar Andranik” metro station, where I arrived while making the video posted above, has not been renovated yet, and only bares signs in Armenian and Russian. Same holds true for most of the other stations I’ve been to recently – but change is coming!
I’m such a fan of the Yerevan Metro! It is truly an institution unto itself.
I had noticed that there had been some renovation, although very selectively, only for the more “exclusive” stations running from Barekamoutiun to the Hraparak. But still, things will improve overall over time, I am sure.
The new turnstiles – with bright orange tokens to boot – are much more efficient and attractive. I am not a fan of the screens at the stations or in the wagons, though. Very random and irritating advertising… And I was wondering, when watching your video, how you pulled off recording it because, as you note in your video’s P.S., they are still very close-minded about taking pictures in the metro. It is a state secret, of course; there are no other metros in the world. 🙂
Another change I am looking out for is a bilingual or trilingual announcer. I remember when the woman’s voice would declare that the doors are closing and the name of the next station both in Armenian and Russian. Perhaps it is redundant – I have been to other metros, and some don’t even bother mentioning anything – but a return back to Russian and the addition of English might be welcome.
Re recording – I was just lucky this time 🙂
The Metro used to be Yerevan’s lifeline during the war years with packed trains and people riding clinging to the outside of the train cars.
Even now when I visit Yerevan, I take the Metro instead of the minivans – it’s a small city so getting around by walking and by Metro is feasible if you have time. Too bad the trams were removed – I liked taking those, too. The Yerevan municipality is following the American urban planning of the 1950-s. Hopefully they will catch up with modern planning before too much damage is done to the city’s infrastructure.
They have already done irreversible damage to the infrastructure by removing most tram lines. I honestly envy cities like Prague, which make such a massive use of trams!
There are a number of factors why they removed the tram lines:
– they needed the iron as concrete reinforcement for the buildings on the Northern Avenue;
– as a landlocked country with hostile transport route through Georgia, it was difficult to import new trams from Germany or Switzerland;
– how else they can fit their Hummers through the streets of Yerevan;
– boost the minivan revenues;
– boost the sales of imported fuels;
– they saw that there are no trams in the US, so that’s how a developed urban environment must look like;
– a misguided notion of progress.
It’s the same mentality across the former USSR as encapsulated in this:
Елена Батурина в интервью «Ведомостям» отмечала: «Я, честно говоря, с ужасом гляжу на Венецию, на эти жуткие облупившиеся дома — страшное зрелище на самом деле».
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