While much of Kazakhstan runs on buses, Almaty, its former capital, boasts the country’s first metropolitan rapid transit system. Here are some quick facts about the Almaty Metro, which has an annual ridership of about 13 million people.
It can be traced back to the Soviet era
Work on Almaty Metro began in September 1988, but stalled when funds dried up after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The project was revived in 2003, with the first seven stations completed in 2011. Today, there are nine stations on a single line, beginning at Raiymbek Batyr and ending at Moskva, with expansions being planned. Each station sports a unique design, mixing modern architecture with traditional elements. You might want to hop off the train to have a closer look at the intricate murals, glass walls and artworks. The metro stations are more than just places of commute. They have hosted art exhibitions, celebrations and concerts too!
The numbers that matter
Trains arrive every five minutes or so, which is roughly the same amount of time taken to travel between each station. The metro operates between 6:30am and 11:30pm daily. The ticket for a ride costs just 80 tenge, or about S$0.30 — regardless of the length of your journey. Tickets can be bought at the ticket office and come in the form of tokens that are valid only for the day of purchase. Children below seven ride for free, while those aged seven to 15 can buy half-price tickets. While Almaty sees fluctuating temperatures ranging from -8 degrees Celsius in January to 30 degrees Celsius in July, the train stations are equipped to ensure riders’ comfort, no matter the season.
Where to stop, and for what
Raiymbek Batyr, the first metro stop on the line, is a 10-minute walk to the Almaty-2 railway station, where you can catch a domestic ride to Nur-Sultan and Shymkent, or travel out to Urumqi in China, as well as various Russian cities.
The Zhibek Zholy and Almaly metro stations take you close to a cluster of restaurants and attractions, like the Arasan baths. The next stop down the line, the Abay station, is near the Palace of the Republic concert hall. The Baikonur and Auezov Theater stations are connected to a stadium, a theatre and an amusement park, while the remaining stations take you deep into the residential districts.