Streets of Tbilisi

Public Transport in Tbilisi

December 9, 2013 - Tbilisi Loves You / Travel to Georgia

If you are a tourist in Tbilisi, public transport may seem to you quite sophisticated and not optimal, but we are here to travel with you in the city and to make clear as much as possible how to deal with transport in the spontaneous city like Tbilisi.

Streets of Tbilisi
Photo by Hasmik Soghomonyan

You remember, what we once advised you regarding the Georgian taxis? Always remember- bargaining will remain an eternal law in Georgia, at least with the taxi drivers without counters.

As what to other types of transport, such as buses and minibuses everything seems more controlled, civilized and systematized here.

For using yellow buses you’ll need electronic travel card which can be purchased and charged at any metro station. You need to charge them, taking into account that one-way ticket will cost you 50 tetris (1/2 Georgian lari). You will need to slide you travel card on the electronic machines placed in the buses. If you don’t have the travel card, prepare the change, as these electronic machines don’t give back the change. So, if you have one lari, but you need only one ticket, you’ll either have to buy two tickets or exchange the money beforehand. The machine accepts 10, 20 and 50 tetri coins only. There are controllers who are checking the tickets. They are usually dressed in blue vests with red lines. As soon as you hear the phrase, containing the words “biletebi”, you should keep the ticket ready to show. When you are getting off the bus, sometimes controllers are “waiting” for checking just sitting on the bench, so be careful. And also be prepared that local people don’t like controllers and don’t hesitate to show their attitude by complaining or arguing with them, simply because temperamental Caucasian nation doesn’t like to be controlled and especially to obey rules.

Tbilisi Transport
Photo by Hasmik Soghomonyan

For finding out which bus you should take you just have to look at electronic schedule tables which are placed at every bus stop. Don’t be confused when you see routes of buses written in Georgian, wait until it changes into English. Basically, buses follow the schedule quite well and you can count on the arrival time you see on the e-board. Be prepared that though you can run to catch the bus, the bus won’t always wait for you. Nothing personal, just the schedule. Oh yes, and don’t expect people giving you way or seat in the buses. Nothing personal in this cafe either, but generally everyone is more concerned with their own comfort zone. Buses work every day from 7:30am to 11:00pm officially. Though, it is difficult to catch a bus after 10:30pm.

Tbilisi Transport Board
Photo by Hasmik Soghomonyan

Yellow minibuses or “marshutkas” as locals call it, are driving faster than the buses. The ticket price is 80 tetris. There are electronic boards installed right beside the door (or the driver, or more precisely between driver seat and the door), at which you can slide the same travel card you might have purchased for travelling by buses. If there is no credit on your travel card you should give money to the driver who will surely give you the change back.

So, in this case no need for exchanging money to have coins. The general rule is that minibuses stop at bus stops when passengers say so. This means you have to say it beforehand or else you will have to walk back to your destination considering the speed the minibus drivers like to drive. If you don’t know Georgian, you can ask to stop in Russian, or if you don’t know Russian, you can just learn magic phrase “ak gatcheret” which means “stop here”. It would be better that “here” is near the bus stop, or else driver might complain that you are making him to break the law. If you are ready for more sophisticated local phrase, you’d learn “gatcherebaze gatcheret” meaning “stop at the bus stop”. Minibuses work usually from 7:30am-11:30pm. Unfortunately, no schedule is available for minibuses, nor any English info on their route. However, feel free to ask local people, they are hospitable and will try to help you as much as they can.

Tbilisi Metro

Subway/Metro in Tbilisi operates from 6:00am to 24:00. You should use the same travel card, ticket price is 50 tetris. No money is accepted in metro, so you will have to buy the travel card. Alternatively, if you don’t want to buy it, you can approach any passenger before the turnstile and say that you don’t have the travel card, give them 50 tetris, so they can help you with their travel card. It is common thing local people are doing. Usually, the station name will prompt you what famous place you will find nearby. The only area where there is no metro station in Vake district, which is considered the fanciest one and surprisingly doesn’t have any metro station. Maybe, because the metro is not fancy enough for Vake traditions?

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