Written by Liubov Tugolukova.
This blog was first written for the Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde. To read the full post, please follow the link below.
Soviet public transport inspires a wide range of emotions among citizens who lived in a country that forever disappeared from the world’s political map. Various Internet forums and videos uploaded on YouTube are full of heart-warming stories about the USSR, where the grass was greener, ice cream was tastier, people were friendlier, and life itself was beautiful. It is not surprising that nostalgia about public transport of that time occupies as important a place in the memories of the past as other attributes of a bygone era: “lucky tickets” that helped pass university exams, crowded transport that a Soviet citizen tremblingly expected to see around the corner every morning in order to have time to “jump in” and travel to work or school, highly paid and respected work of drivers, let alone the merely symbolic fare for a ride. Researching the history and legacy of Soviet public transport its institutional arrangements and everyday negotiations in the framework of my internship in the project Contentious Mobilities through a decolonial lens, this short article is my endeavour to pay tribute to the fascinating, but complex story of public transport system of the USSR, revived by the memories of people who were in one way or another connected with it. In this regard, the interviews I held with the passengers and drivers, who had lived and worked during the Soviet times, can give public transport a human face. Moreover, it should be indicated that for the following research I used the materials kindly provided by Russian historian A. Gorshenin.
Soviet public transport as a truly public space
Human memory changes with time, colouring our past with bright colors, joyous moments …