Shuttles, buses, metro and cabs in Tbilisi
Public transportation in Tbilisi

Shuttles, buses, metro and cabs in Tbilisi

Trolleybuses and streetcars in Tbilisi, as well as throughout Georgia, have long been gone. Today, the main transportation in cities is buses and shuttle buses. I will tell you how to use public transportation in Tbilisi.

Buses and shuttle buses run according to the established scheme. At the same time, buses stop only at bus stops, and minibuses stop wherever the passenger requests, except for central avenues, where stopping is allowed only in designated places.

The famous Tbilisi Conka

The very first public transportation in Tbilisi was the «konka». This small streetcar, pulled by a pair of horses, leisurely took the residents of the old city around its center in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today old streetcars can be seen on Baratashvili Street in the center of Tbilisi. One sells souvenirs, the second sells coffee and hot doughnuts.

The famous Tiflis "Konka".
The famous Tiflis «Konka».
Tiflis Conka with souvenirs
Tiflis Conka with souvenirs
Tiflis horse-drawn carriage with doughnuts
Tiflis horse-drawn carriage with doughnuts

Just above, on Orbeliani Square, an old streetcar stands as a reminder of the city’s history. These streetcars appeared in 1904 to replace the conks and completely replaced them by 1910. Since 1942 they have been replaced by more modern streetcars.

Now there are no streetcars in Tbilisi. All electric transportation stopped working in 2006.

Old Tbilisi streetcar
Old Tbilisi streetcar
Old Tbilisi streetcar
Old Tbilisi streetcar

The Metromani card

The first thing a tourist needs to know about public transportation in Tbilisi: if you plan to use the subway, you need a Metromani card to pay for it, which is sold at every station of the Tbilisi subway. You will not be able to enter the subway without this card. Only «Metromani» is used to pass through the turnstile. The same card is used to pay for transportation on Tbilisi’s cable cars.

Without a card, you can buy a ticket for cash only on the bus — you have to drop strictly 0.5 GEL (50 tetri) into the automatic ticket office, no more and no less: the machine does not give change and will not sell the ticket. Therefore, I recommend buying a card, even if you plan to travel not only by metro.

This is what the Metromani map looks like
This is what the Metromani map looks like

The card is not individual, it can be used to pay for the travel of several people, if the amount on it allows.

  • To take one, two or three tickets on the bus, you just need to swipe your card the required number of times at the electronic ticket office. If the controller checks, he will simply compare the amount charged with the number of passengers.
  • There are no tickets in the subway; when your card comes into contact with the glowing surface on the turnstile, it simply opens to let the passenger through. You can let a friend pass first and then pass yourself — the card will be charged for two passes.
Electronic ticket office on the bus
Electronic ticket office on the bus

By the Visa and Mastercard logos, it might seem that you can pay directly from your card. Not yet: this is only for locals who own a Bank of Georgia card. Other cards are not accepted.

Metromani card holders are provided with benefits. After the first use, there is a zero fare for 1.5 hours. This means that if you have to make transfers during this time, you will not have to pay extra. This applies to both buses and subways.

If you use cash on the bus, you will have to pay every time you transfer, and have 50 tetri (0.5 GEL) change, as the ticket office does not give change and does not accept smaller or larger amounts.

Georgian Lari: ₾ (GEL)
Tbilisi subway and bus fare is 50 tetri (0.5 ₾, or 0.16 €)
  • The «Metromani» card costs 2 GEL;
  • You can deposit any amount, the minimum amount is 0.5 GEL (equal to the price of one trip).
  • The fine for fare dodging in public transport is 20 GEL.

You can refill your card using the orange machines of the Bank of Georgia, which can be found at every bus stop. The English-language menu is not difficult to understand at all.

The machines are installed at each stop
The machines are installed at each stop
It is not difficult to understand, there is a menu in English
It is not difficult to understand, there is a menu in English

Tbilisi Metro

Georgia has a subway only in the capital. It has only two lines: the main line and a branch from the station Ploschad Vokzalnaya, a transition to the Saburtala line. Inside each station there are ticket offices where you can buy and refill your Metromani card.

Freedom Square metro station in the city center
Freedom Square metro station in the city center
Rustaveli metro station in the city center
Rustaveli metro station in the city center

Controllers in the metro are located directly at the turnstiles. Sometimes at the entrance to the subway you can meet people who offer to swipe their card at zero fare, in exchange for your cash 50 tetri. Their services are used in extreme cases, if you don’t have a card and don’t have extra 2 GEL to buy it. Despite the fact that it is illegal and they are chased by controllers, they manage to collect a small amount. It is always better to have a card in order to use transportation without hindrance.

  • Normal working hours of the metro in Tbilisi are from 06:00 to 24:00. Since July 1, 2019, due to repairs, the metro working hours have been temporarily reduced from 07:00 to 23:00.
  • The fare is 50 tetri (0.5 ₾).
Tbilisi Metro Scheme
Tbilisi Metro Scheme

Tbilisi buses

The Georgian capital has recently renewed its vehicle fleet. Green and blue buses, equipped with video cameras and air conditioning, have almost completely replaced the old yellow buses. The new buses are equipped with ramps. The route network covers almost the entire city.

Tbilisi buses
Tbilisi buses
Comfortable Tbilisi buses
Comfortable Tbilisi buses
Comfortable Tbilisi buses
Comfortable Tbilisi buses

Buses have automatic ticket offices that issue a ticket by swiping a card or dropping 50 tetri in change. In addition to these, almost every bus now has new electronic ticket offices: they do not issue a ticket, but reflect the transaction on the card itself, as in the subway.

It is possible to ride on buses without Metromani: automatic ticket offices accept coins of 0.50 GEL. However, they do not recognize coins of other denominations. You cannot pay for the fare with three 20 tetri coins — the ticket office will not issue a ticket or change.

Another important difference of cash fare: you will have to pay again when transferring to another bus, while with the Metromani card you can ride for free for half an hour and a half.

The conductor uses a special machine to check the Metromani card to see if the fare has been paid for a particular bus. This eliminates the need to take the ticket itself and keep it until the end of the trip.

Electronic ticket office on the bus
Electronic ticket office on the bus
At the bottom is an automatic cash register, at the top is an electronic one
At the bottom is an automatic cash register, at the top is an electronic one

At each bus stop there is an electronic board, where in Georgian and in English it is indicated in what time a certain flight will arrive and its final stop.

The main disadvantage of Tbilisi buses is that almost all buses have Baratashvili Street (former Kolkhoznaya Square) as their final and initial stop, which is located in the center and connects two parts of the city. You have to transfer here if you need to go further.

Route numbers and traffic scheme: on the Tbilisi bus fleet website
Electronic signage at bus stops
Electronic signage at bus stops
Electronic signage at bus stops
Electronic signage at bus stops

Tbilisi’s yellow minibuses

This type of public transportation is the most popular today in Tbilisi and other cities of Georgia. It is easier to get to places where there is no subway station or if you are not satisfied with the bus route. You can pay by card or cash through the automatic cash desk, and the driver always has change for change.

A yellow shuttle bus on Liberty Square
A yellow shuttle bus on Liberty Square
Yellow shuttle buses stop at Kolkhoznaya Square
Yellow shuttle buses stop at Kolkhoznaya Square

The direction of the route is indicated on the sign on the windshield, but only in Georgian. Feel free to ask passers-by what number is going in the direction you need — they will always tell you and advise you how to get there more conveniently.

  • The fare is 80 tetri.
  • In case of a transfer, the next Metromani card ride is cheaper than the first one — 65 tetri.

Cab in Tbilisi

Recently, a transportation reform was carried out in Tbilisi. Now city cabs are only white-colored cars with an identification sign mounted on the roof. If the sign is red — the cab is busy, green — free. These are category «A» cabs.

Free cab
Free cab
Cab’s busy
Tbilisi white cab
Tbilisi white cab

Category B cabs are not authorized to pick up passengers on the street, they operate only on call. Such cars can be of any color and have no identifying sign. They are called by several operators, such as Yandex, Bolt, Maxim. The operator tells the tariff, number, color of the car and driver’s data in advance.

When ordering in advance, you can order different options: call a car of extra-comfort class, a car with a child seat or with a roof rack.

From 2 to 20 GEL
Fare by Tbilisi cab «on call» within the city limits

The fare of white cabs of category «A» is usually higher, it is specified by the driver at his discretion — the difference can reach 2—4 times, especially if the driver sees that you are a tourist.

B-category cabs are cheaper, but you have to wait for them for a while. Usually a car arrives within 5—15 minutes.

  • Maxim Taxi: website and phone number 0322606060
  • Some more cabs on call in Tbilisi: 0322200200; +995597307407; 0322800800
  • Cabs for people with disabilities: +995577776556.

City Tour buses

Big red buses are parked in the central Freedom Square, offering a City Tour of the city. The route includes the city’s main sights — 11 stops in total, where you can get off and then get on again.

  • The time of the sightseeing tour is 1.5 hours.
  • Price — 20 $, water on the way and audio guide in Russian — free of charge.
  • You can buy a ticket online or from the driver.
"City Tour" on Liberty Square
«City Tour» on Liberty Square
City Tour Bus
City Tour Bus
City tour
City tour

Public transportation in Tbilisi is well developed, and it is often easy to get to the desired point. And buying a transportation card allows you to do it economically.