Russia’s Uber Gets Better

There are a number of transport network companies [TNC] operating in Russia – apart from Uber, there is also the more popular Yandex.Taxi, as well as the taxi hailing Gett and a few others. These companies are a vast improvement from the days of the old gypsy cabs, many of them illegally run by Caucasian mafias, who would – and unfortunately, still do – harass incoming tourists at Sheremetyevo Airport.

[Pro tip: Never deal with them. Getting a Yandex.Taxi to any destination will cost you 2-3x cheaper.]

That said, standards still fall a bit short of what I believe to be standard in the West (though I can’t really compare as I only used Uber perhaps half a dozen times in the US and London):

  • I had two drivers doze off at the wheel (both times driving home from an airport in Moscow);
  • One driver didn’t have a seatbelt in the back seat (Novgorod);
  • Another driver chatted with his girlfriend for half the journey from the airport, without using a hands free kit (also in Moscow).

This is why the new updates are a very good idea:

Instead of holding out your hand and flagging down a random driver, as the Soviet-era system used to work, market leader Yandex.Taxi is making big efforts to increase the trust of riders in its cars. Innovations being introduced now mean passengers will now be able to see a high-resolution picture of their drivers on the app prior to boarding the car. Besides the car model, the number of rides given, and their rating, passengers will now be able to see the compliments that the driver has received from previous customers.

While this is good news for customers, Yandex.Taxi drivers might feel even more pressured. Their ranking, determined by customer feedback, determines pay. In a survey I conducted among Yandex drivers, some were concerned about the pressure during work, where customer behaviour was one of the most impactful factors. The newly introduced compliment section adds to existing pressure, because drivers feel obliged to do even more ‘socialising’ to continue to gain ratings, and thus orders, from Yandex.Taxi. The system uses a points system that favours the drivers with higher scores, who are sent more customers.

Obviously, Klemens Witte – the SJW author of this tripe – begs to differ. In reality, most normal, reasonable people would be perfectly happy to give a driver their five stars so long as their vehicles and driving meet some decent, minimal level of safety and comfort.

Usually, I give my drivers 5 stars and a 10% tip. However, I gave the sleepers 1 star for endangering my life and those of others, 3 stars to no seatbelt guy, and 2 stars to phone guy).

Another issue is that of ethnic discrimination. Many of the drivers are immigrants from Central Asia and the Caucuses, for whom driving a taxi is more lucrative and easier work than construction and labour jobs that many of their compatriots are forced to take. One of Yandex.Taxi’s competitors has installed a function that makes it possible to only chose drivers of ‘Slavic appearance’, which leads to the question of whether high-resolution pictures will lead to increased racial discrimination in choosing drivers.

“Forced”? For a start, they can always stay in their own countries if they hate it in Russia so much.

Moreover, there’s another problem. Immigrant Yandex.Taxi drivers have perverse incentives to drive/earn as much as they can before going back to Dagestan, Tajikistan, etc., so in the apparent absence of tough punishments, they work for way too long. Both my drivers who dozed off were Caucasians (phone guy & no seatbelt guy were Russians). A better ratings system will punish such dangerous misbehavior and get them off the streets and into some other, less responsible profession.

Most of the interviewed drivers had been working as platform drivers for a short time. Many state that they do not know how long they will work with Yandex, indicating that Yandex has a high turnover of drivers. This phenomenon is well documented in relation to Uber, where many drivers leave during their first year and the retention rate has actually dropped to 4%. High-turnover rates may imply that drivers don’t see Yandex as a long-term opportunity, which could put the sustainability of this business model in question. …

However, driver complaints differ from Western contemporaries in that they don’t tend to mention the benefits of an employee-friendly framework like sick leave, further training, permanent employment, or parental leave. Given the realities of the Russian labour market, drivers didn’t even think of those benefits as an option.

Like, who the hell anywhere considers TNC companies as something they do for training of all things? Sick leave? Permanent employment? Parental leave? WTF?

The whole point of Uber, Yandex.Taxi, etc. so far as employees are concerned is that this is a good way for unskilled but disciplined workers to make reasonable amounts of money quickly, fairly, anytime they want, no boss looking over your shoulder, doing what many people like anyway (driving). And collectivists such as Klemens Witte want to undo all that and go back to the days of the unaccountable taxi mafia.

Fortunately, the taxi mafia is pretty weak in Russia, unlike in many of the countries that have banned or are planning to ban Uber and other TNCs*. They are objectively superior to taxis, and SWPL Russians do not want to go back to the days of being driven by shady gypsy cabs. Ratings systems will continue to get optimized, competition and quality will continue to go up, and the Wittes of the world will be left screeching autistically in the wilderness.

  • I hear Romania is about to do it, which will make it into a dump so far as tourism are concerned.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. I will attest that during my time in Moscow Yandex Taxi was a brilliant service and extremely useful getting home on late nights after the Metro closed. All the drivers we had were perfectly satisfactory and took the shortest routes to the destination. Compare that to Prague and Budapest where various drivers attempted to overcharge my group and take long winding routes on a regular basis.

    The Irish equivalent; Hailo/MyTaxi is similarly good but exorbitantly overpriced as is everything here.

    I am curious about Uber though, have yet to experience them.

  2. The Big Red Scary says

    “drivers feel obliged to do even more ‘socialising’ to continue to gain ratings”

    I too typically give 5 stars and a 10% tip, but if those chuvaks start interrupting my autistic reverie, that will change real quick.

  3. reiner Tor says

    I also prefer not talking to drivers, though occasionally it can be fun.

  4. The Big Red Scary says

    Funny enough, but it’s precisely the guys from Xstan whom I find the most interesting to talk to. At least where I live, the Russian taxi drivers are not very interesting. That said, I have left my daughter in the car with a Russian while I ran back to the house to get something, but I’ve never done that with a foreigner. Probably it would be safe to do so, but I feel a stronger social contract with Russians despite being a foreigner myself.

  5. many of them illegally run by Caucasian mafias, who would – and unfortunately, still do – harass incoming tourists at Sheremetyevo Airport.

    Had this experience my first time there. I was very tired and in a hurry so I idiotically took the first available option to get on my way before it got any later. Ended up getting charged ₽1400 just for a destination on the other side of Khimki! Next time I knew about YandexTaxi and the same trip ran about ₽120

    They were even more aggressive and annoying at the Simferopol airport though. When you exit the terminal you have to walk across this huge parking lot to get to the buses and trolleys that go everywhere on the peninsula. These manlets would swarm people and keep following them almost half way to the station trying to get them to turn back. Taxi nicer! Perhaps now that the airport’s been redone they’ve run them off.

  6. There is the excellent Aeroexpress train from Moscow’s major airports to train/subway stations. And then the excellent subway in Moscow, apart from tramways, trains and buses – a huge and mostly very good public transportation (at least compared to the disastrous systems we have in Buenos Aires, where I live). In my 7 days stay in Moscow it never ocurred to me to use a taxi, and I wonder why someone would pay much more to get stuck in traffic jams instead of taking fast and cheap Aeroexpress and subway.

  7. anonymous coward says

    apart from Uber, there is also the more popular Yandex.Taxi

    The Russian Uber was bought by Yandex.Taxi some time back.

  8. E.g., if you’re bringing back a lot of luggage.

  9. FWIW

    The Moscow traffic authorities have stated that the driver had not intentionally rammed into the pedestrians, specifying, however, that he was sober, thus refuting some reports circulating in the media.

    According to local media, citing its sources, the driver fell asleep while driving and “reflexly” hit the gas pedal, simultaneously rotating the wheel to the right.

    They have also shared a photo of the man’s driver’s license, issued in Kyrgyzstan on August 13, 2013.

  10. Philip Owen says

    When I can I use GETT. It operates in Moscow, London, New York and Tel Aviv. Good vehicles, licensed or trained drivers and good international software with integrations for exenses claims.

    My PA insists on Yandex at the cheapest level. They are better than the kiosk cabs in the old days far more the gypsy cabs but at cut rate, you get someone arguing with his mother in law about the rent he joined Yandex 3 hours before to pay. He uses the same spare hand to steer and change gear. Still better than the old days. There were never any tazis at the Aeroexpress railway stations to force you to use taxis from the airports or lug heavy luggage through thte metro. 5 years ago OK but I have heart trouble now.

    Her preferred long distance travel is Bla Bla Car. OMG!

  11. prime noticer says

    these updates from russia are interesting.

    also shows how good things actually are in the west. not that SJWs would know.