Metro of Baku
Baku Metro is a rapid transit system serving Baku the capital of Azerbaijan. First opened in 1967, during the time of the Soviet Union, it has the features found in most other ex-Soviet systems, including very deep central stations, and exquisite decorations that blend traditional Azerbaijani national motifs with Soviet ideology.
Baku prides itself in having built the first subway system in the East more than 40 years ago. Baku Metro (subway, Underground, tube) is the most affordable and safest way to get around the city.
At present the system has 29.9 kilometres of bi-directional track with 20 stations. Of these one is a surface, and the rest underground, of which seven are deep-level and 16 sub-surface. Officially Baku Metro has two lines, but that is not entirely correct, as a major part of the second line is under operation of the first one, and the remaining is a short two station shuttle service.
The Baku Metro was for long planned to be a two-line (non-typical for Soviet metros) network with 33 stations spreading for 52 km. However, with growing mobility and population, the Baku Metro can potentially become a three-line, network forming a triangle in the city centre, as with many other former Soviet metros.
Baku Metro switched to use the newest RFID card system for access. The cards are similar to Oyster Cards used in London Underground. The cards can be purchased for 2 AZN ($3 USD) but must be charged to use. The card initially must be filled with at least 1 AZN for passages. In other words, the card itself does not give you access, but instead must be filled. This is required even you need to do a single trip.
Each ride has a fixed price (20 qapik as of January 2013) and is still one of the cheapest tubes in the world with the cost of each trip not exceeding 25 cents. One can top up the card for a number of trips at each station using cashier services. Once you are on the Metro, there are no additional charges for transferring to another line. At the end of your time in Baku, you can return the card to metro station for a full refund or you can just keep the card as a reminder of your time in Baku.
Many of the metro stations are wonderfully designed. Nizami station is recognized as the most interesting with its wonderful mosaics and statues. Unfortunately, the police will not allow photos to be taken as the metro was subject to an Armenian terrorist attack about 15 years ago.
Something you may want to know before heading out on the metro. First, security is very tight. If you have any bags be prepared for the police to stop you and look through them. Second, it can get very crowded during the rush-hours and trying to get on or off can make one feel like a salmon trying to swim upstream.