Kiev’s Metro Attracts Local and Foreign Admirers

Metro systems have long been a fixture in European and American cities, but in the city of Kiev, underground trains are a contemporary option for public transport. Opened in the fall of 1960 after an eleven year construction period, Kiev’s metro system is a measure of speed and style. Indeed, though rapid transit may have been a latecomer, but these days over 1.7 million passengers swear by its speed and efficiency.

Built during the decades following Stalin’s rule, the original underground train station architecture leaned heavily on Soviet motifs. As stations aged, a more decorative architecture emerged integrating Ukrainian designs. By the time Ukraine secured its independence in 1991, Kiev’s metro system underwent a Ukrainian facelift. Signs and voice announcements, previously displayed in both Russian and Ukrainian, claimed the Ukrainian tongue only.

Vandalism and graffiti rarely mar Kiev’s metro system, and today, the network is better protected than other more established rapid transit programs. With the rise in terrorist incidents around the world, CCTV surveillance cameras were installed throughout the 59 kilometre system. Cleanliness is not the only attribute Kiev’s system can claim. Forty years of operation has produced a spotless safety record making it one of the few systems in the world to be entirely accident-free.

Though the system transports travellers to almost all of Kiev, the metro system is slated to nearly double in length by 2030. Provisions for the disabled have been thin in the past, but new station plans incorporate lifts and upgrades to older stations are in the works. Metro signs are in Ukrainian, but English maps are available for purchase. Transport on the underground is outrageously inexpensive. A 50 kopeck token is the equivalent of an American dime. Token dispensers are located in the underground, or a token may be purchased from an attendant.

If your feet are tired from walking miles in Ukraine’s largest city, why not rest on the underground. People-watching can help you pass the time as your train spirits away to another part of the city.