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What is

by Oxana Novikova

Что такОе "маршрУтка"? (pronounced as marshroOtka")
What is "Marshrutka"?
The word Marshrutka is a colloquial shortened term that comes from the name "MarshroOtnoye taxi" that means routed taxi.
The Marshrutka is typically a shared taxi or minibus or transit type vehicle that will carry up to 12 - 15 people, mostly seated with some spare room for those who are brave (!) enough to stand as the trip can be quite harsh because of problems with road surface or/and the extreme driving style. The vehicle will have a starting destination point and an end destination point but will stop anywhere to drop off or collect passengers. Let's say it is raining cats and dogs, a typical bus will drop you off at one of the many bus stops which could be some way from your home. However, on a Marshrutka you can request that you be dropped off anywhere on the route.
Unlike an Autobus (автОбус) there is no set timetable, the vehicle will leave its starting point when there are enough people inside. You generally do not have to wait for a long time when you are inside a Marshrutka, they are very popular and fill up quickly.
This form of transport is very popular in Russia and especially in Volgograd as they are only slightly more expensive than public transport but are so much quicker and convenient though it is not the safest way of transport as marshrutkas are notorious for many road traffic accidents. 
But waiting for public transport such as a bus or train can be really annoying, especially when the service is cancelled and the temperature is -20 degrees outside!
The cost of the journey will vary depending on its length and the owner of the vehicle. They are more expensive than a bus or train but cheaper than a taxi. The cost of the journey is written on a card and usually diplayed on the dashboard.
The vehicles are privately owned but usually have a licence from the city authorities. It is not unusual for a small business to operate several vehicles in one city.
The driver will accept cash only. You will get a very strange look if you try to pay by card!
The destination of the vehicle is often written on the front windscreen and sometimes on a side window.

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