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Exercise caution when using taxis. There are standard taxis of various makes and colors, but professional ones all have taxi lights on top. Official taxis also have a "T" and checkered emblem on the doors (but there aren't many of them). When you enter a cab, check to see if the meter is working; if it isn't, agree on a price beforehand. Everyone with a car is a potential taxi driver in Moscow, and there are huge masses of people who make extra money or even their entire livelihood driving people in their private vehicles (often beat-up Soviet models), so you never have to wait long for someone to stop. This is generally a safe practice, but it's best to avoid it, particularly if you don't speak Russian, as most drivers will try to swindle you. Some private drivers also don't know the city very well and may not be able to reach your destination without directions from you. If you do choose to take a ride in an ordinary car, take some precautions: never get in a car with more than one person inside, and if the driver wants to stop for another fare, say no or get out of the car.

The easiest thing to do if you want a cab is to order one by phone or through your hotel. Moscow has numerous cab companies, most with 24-hour service. There's sometimes a delay, but a cab usually arrives within the hour. If you order a cab in this way, you usually pay a set rate for the first 20–40 minutes (around 350R–500R) and then a set rate per minute (usually around 10R per minute) after that. Always ask for an approximate price when you telephone for a cab. Unfortunately, most operators don't speak English, so when possible ask your hotel concierge (or a restaurant's maître d') to order one for you. Formula Taxi provides city cabs (typically silver Renault sedans) as well as airport service from hotels or private residences. Novoye Zhyoltoye Taksi (New Yellow Taxi) is a cab firm with a good reputation. Yandex Taxi is a smartphone app and a website that allows you to locate the closest cab, depending on your location.

Taxi Contacts

Formula Taxi (Moscow. 495/777–5777. www.formula-taxi.ru/en.)

Novoye Zhyoltoye Taksi. This is one of the larger taxi companies operating in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Prices start at 22 rubles a kilometer. Bookings can be made on the phone or via the online system. 495/940–8888. www.nyt.ru/en.

Welcome Taxi. English-speaking drivers make airport pick-ups and trips around the city. They'll purchase a mobile SIM card for you and meet you at the airport with it. Bookings may be made online. Moscow. 499/922–0674 or 499/553–0158. welcometaxi.ru.

Yandex Taxi. This site, with a smartphone app, allows customers to book a taxi online. The system uses Yandex maps to locate your phone, and then allows you to choose a taxi service that's closest to your location. The site is in Russian, but you can type your location in English. Moscow. taxi.yandex.ru.