Riding the Metro

Someone just left a comment in response to the last entry, inquiring about the Yerevan metro and how it compares to subway systems in other countries.

I can say that I have ridden the metro close to a hundred times or even more, and I have really never been disappointed by the service. The Karen Demirjian Yerevan Metropolitan subway system was constructed during the 1970s and 1980s. In all there are 10 stations, from “Paregamutiun” (Friendship Square) to “Karekin Njdeh Square” in the “Third District” of Shengavit. It takes about 35 minutes or so to go from one end of town to the other. There is only one line, although there is a special train that goes to “Charbakh” station, completed in 1996, when transferring at the “Shengavit” stop. There were two other stations to have been built north of “Paregamutiun”—one in the lower Achepenak district on Halabyan Street and also one in Davitashen, but the stations were never completed due to the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Trains come every four to six minutes, but during off-peak hours they come every 10 minutes or so. The metro remains the safest, most reliable and affordable means of public transportation at 50 drams, versus now 130 drams for the minivan routes that zigzag throughout Yerevan—vans are always overfilled, uncomfortable, and dangerous, as many of them teeter on the verge of completely breaking down due to their age.

In terms of how the metro compares with that of other cities, with my experience the Yerevan metro shares the same traits as many other metros I have traveled on, like a few stations have water leaks and thus there are lingering odors of mildew. The stations’ walls are lined with marble (they are virtually identical to the metro stations of Moscow), and each station has something characteristically aesthetically different from the other. Platforms are always clean as they are patrolled by special guards (usually women). The trains, however, are darker than I remember a few years ago, as for some reason maintenance workers can’t be bothered to change a few 30 cent light bulbs. I would say that for instance, compared with the Boston T subway system—one of the oldest in the world—the main difference is that Boston trains are modern, long and well lit, while the stations are dumpy, dirty, and stink of urine. Luckily I have not encountered any smells of pee in the Yerevan stations themselves, although the tunnel that connects the Republic Square metro entrance to the other side of Nalbandyan Street (which exits just at the foot of my building) sticks to high heaven, as no public restrooms are available in that area.

In any case, for romantic tourists who desperately need to see the impressive David of Sassoon statue that Armenians hold so dear to their hearts as a symbol of their homeland, take the metro to the “Sasoonsti Davit” station, walk up the stairs, and go in the direction of the entrance to the Central Train Station (considered outside Armenia to be an interior architectural wonder, by the way). Once you emerge into the light the statue can be seen just a few feet away.


Anonymous said…
Thank you for the info. Do you have any idea if they plan on expanding the lines or adding new ones in the near future?
I don't believe that adding stations or lines to the Metro is one of the government's top priorities right now, especially when it would cost countless millions or even billions of dollars to continue with construction. I have seen that tunnels exist for instance to cross from one side of the Hrazdan gorge to the other near the Kievyan Bridge--I'm assuming a bridge across the river was to have been built to connect the tunnels--and then a metro station was to have been built at the intersection of Abeyan and Halabyan streets. But no one has bothered to fill in the incompleted station, so completion may happen some day. You never know.
RK said…
Hi Garo - can you please send me an email? Someone wants to invite Laurence Ritter to a wedding and doesn't have her contact info...

Merci! raffi @ cilicia.com

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