The metro (www.metro.ge) opened in 1965 and now extends for 24km, with 21 stations. The deep, dank Tbilisi metro is the standard fast, efficient Soviet system seen all over the ex-USSR. It operates from 6am to midnight with a flat fare of 0.40 GEL, and the two lines connect you to most important parts of the city, meeting at Vagzlis Moedani station. A third line appears on the official maps, but a shortage of funds makes its construction highly improbable for now. Trains run roughly every five minutes.
The stations of most use to visitors are Tavisuplebis Moedani (Freedom Sq, for the Old Town), Rustaveli (city centre), Marjanishvili, Vagzlis Moedani (main train station) and Didube (main bus station).
Signs are only in Georgian and the system can seem challenging to foreigners at first; but the station name is announced at each stop, and just before the doors shut the name of the next station is also announced.
The previous system of using a plastic token for access was modernised in 2010 and now all metro users must make use of a swipe card. Cards can be bought at the booth just before the turnstiles; the minimum initial payment is GEL4 (GEL2 for the card deposit and GEL2 credit) and these can be topped up as necessary. Each journey made, however long, subtracts GEL0.40 from the total value of credit on the card.
The principal line runs largely parallel to the Mtkvari from north to southeast, from Akhmeteli to Didube, Voksal, Marjanishvili, Rustaveli Square, Freedom Square (Tavisuplebis Moedani), Avlabari, Isani, Samgori and Varketili; there's a free transfer to the other line, which runs westwards from Voksal to Universiteti, with just five intermediate stops mostly along Vazha-Pshavelas Avenue.
The system seems to have been built on the cheap, with stations unusually far apart and platforms only five carriage-lengths long (and four-carriage trains); however, the trains and four central stations were refurbished in 2006.