Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
Including a fancy new $8.7 billion rail line.
Driving in Russia is never easy. But using a car to get around Sochi during the Winter Olympics will be especially difficult, enough so that the official guide for the Games asks everyone to take public transportation. A series of maps published by the organizing committee offers some insight into how that'll actually work.
Up in the mountains, where the outdoor events are taking place, spectators will travel by some combination of rail (if you're coming from the south), bus, and cable car. While the Games are in town, cable car use will be strictly limited to those with tickets to events that day:
Buses hit all the important spots, including event areas, the airport, and central Sochi. But it's not an especially fast ride. Getting from Sochi to Krasnaya Polyana takes about two hours on the road. A ride from Esto Sadok (where media members are staying in their infamous hotels) to Olympic Park takes almost as long:
The region's biggest infrastructure investment for the Games is its new rail line, which cost more than $8.7 billion (that price tag includes a roadway that runs alongside it). Though it created all sorts of problems for nearby residents during construction, its sleek new cars now take riders from the coast to the mountains much faster than the buses, while covering much of the same ground:
This is all a bit abstract without knowing the geography of the region. Thankfully, a Russian train enthusiast recently captured his entire 90-minute Sochi to Krasnaya Polyana ride on the new rail system, adding a scenic slideshow with techno music after the final stop: