Baku has bus, tram, trolleybus and metro services. These are inexpensive and the network is very comprehensive, although the comfort, quality and reliability of services vary.
Baku is the only city in Azerbaijan with a metro service. The Baku metro is very convenient, the stations are generally clean and safe. The trains are also clean and run every two or three minutes. The prices are cheap and independent of the duration of the trip.
The metro had two bombings in 1994 and several serious security incidents. In 1995, more than 300 people died from carbon monoxide poisoning during an incident, which is still the most serious accident in the metro today. However, the metro is widely used even by foreigners.
There are two main lines, one going around the city center and the other roughly in a north-west-south-east axis, plus two small annexes. The two main metro lines meet near Baku central station, at Jafar Jabbarly double station / May 28 – entry is via Jafar Jabbarly. The old town is served by the Baku Soviet station. The other station in the city center is Sahil, near Place 26 Comissars. The only surface station is Bakmil, just before deposition.
Buses, trams and trolleys are paid in cash directly to the driver or controller – often no return slip is given.
There is no easy way to get a schedule, but routes are posted inside the shelters at bus and tram stops. Buses, trolleys and trams run from 5 or 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. or midnight. There are often private minibuses that monitor the official bus lines, cost around double and offer slightly better service (swamp).
A funicular takes you to the Martyrs alley (former Kirov park). It dates from 1960 and is often out of service. Like the metro, not a good place to photograph because of the police and paranoid soldiers.
Remember that taking the “cart 11” is a local jargon for walking!
A good alternative to public transport in Baku is to hire a private car with driver. A minimum cost is around 30 euros per day
1. Baku Taxis
Most taxis are counterless. A trip anywhere in the city center will cost 15,000 manats, although it is possible to negotiate much lower rates if you have the patience. Expect to be asked more if you don’t speak Azeri or Russian. Driving can be a little adventurous and there is no shortage of rear seat belts.
Taxis do not generally accept foreign currency. Make sure you change before you travel, as some drivers cannot.
Baku – Azerbaijan: white taxi: Azerq (photo by Miguel Torres) There are only two official taxi companies in Baku, use either the yellow Star taxis, or the white taxis with the blue Azerq Taxis sign. Those with blue license plates are officially authorized and are considered safer. You can book taxis by calling 62-15-15 or 62-12-44 / 7.
As in Russia, it is common to stop private cars and agree on a price for the journey, this may seem strange at first, but you will get used to it quickly.
2. Marshrut – Shared Taxis
As elsewhere in the Caucasus, you will find shared taxis, generally called marshrut / marsrut / marshrutka, from the French “ route des marches ”, via the Russian “ marshrut ”. The vehicles are generally 12 seater Russian vans or used vans from Western Europe. It is common for 15 people to crowd in a 10-person minibus. Keep in mind that Azerbaijan is not a society that forms a line …
Marshes travel a fixed route and stop at any point on this route when they are signaled or told to stop. They operate in parallel and more often than most buses, but some have their own routes. Determining how to get from one place to another with marshes can be a challenge, as a master list of routes is not available.
Marshruts / marshrutki can be used for local, regional and even international transport. They have no timetables, they leave when they are full! On long journeys, count stops at roadside restaurants, although many passengers choose to bring their own food.
For the independent traveler, it is the mode of transport with the best combination of convenience and cost. As a bonus, you get to know the locals well. Pilots can however be a bit erratic. Crossing borders can be slow due to the amount of baggage to be checked and bribes to be negotiated.