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It's commonly taught that the difference between ходить/идти and ездить/ехать (and between their prefixed derivations) is that the former connotes movement by foot and the latter connotes movement using a vehicle as the means of transportation.

However, in my workbook, whenever the moving subject is a vehicle itself, verbs based on ходить/идти are always used, instead of those based on ездить/ехать.

Автобус подошёл к остановке even though I would say Автобус подъехал к остановке.
Or Автобус идёт 20 минут до центра. even though I would say Автобус едет 20 минут до центра. But if the subject is пассажиры на автобусе suddenly the workbook and I are in agreement, e.g. пассажиры на автобусе подъехали к остановке.

1. Is this correct? Why? Vehicles don't walk, and they don't even have feet to walk. And if a vehicle is moving, it is because someone is causing it to move.

Also, many times my book will refer to the motion corresponding to a trip across a city, involving multiple means of transportation and walking between them, using verbs based on ходить/идти instead of ездить/ехать.

Example: Вчера мы ходили в Большой театр... Мы вошли в автобус... Мы доехали на автобусе до центра. В центре мы вышли из автобуса. Все вошли в театр.

2. Is this correct either? If it is, then how can one distinguish trips where the person walked the entire way from trips when one used vehicular means of transportation?

If it were correct, reductio ad absurdum wouldn't it mean that we should almost never use the verbs based on ездить/ехать, because it is impossible to get to or from any means of vehicular transportation without walking somewhat (unless you were born on a bus and spend your entire life on that bus without ever leaving, or something like that).

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    To make it more confusing: snow and rain "walk" too. As well as time. An clothes. Just take a look into the dictionary. – Abakan Jul 10 '17 at 8:55
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    @Abakan nothing special though, "the show must GO on" - it is not about gypsy tabor or roving circus :-D – Arioch Jul 10 '17 at 9:10
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    "In Russia, do vehicles walk?" - YES THEY DO :-D pixdaus.com/files/items/pics/5/49/… – Arioch Jul 10 '17 at 9:28
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    Though I can't source that, but I have a feeling that difference is that in this particular case ходить and идти refers to moving along the route or on the schedule. Therefore regular bus will use "идёт по улице такой-то" or "подошёл к остановке", while some private vehicle will use "ехать". – Oleg V. Volkov Jul 10 '17 at 12:26
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    @Arioch, well, for example, russian sailors would be extremely offended if you say that their ship "плавает"(floats), and would insist that she "ходит"(walks, goes); more professional sailor, more offended it would be. – user28434 Jul 10 '17 at 13:05

10 Answers 10

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If you refer to the dictionary, you'll see that ходитьhas a lot of meanings. The clock also walks in Russian, and it doesn't mean it has legs or walks on its hands. :) The words almost never have 100% match in their meanings in different languages. The context details are always important. All your examples are correct, and can be both used in general case.

In case of passengers:

пассажиры на автобусе подъехали к остановке - obviously, on the bus

пассажиры подъехали к остановке - on a vehicle ( or bicycles, or skis )

пассажиры подошли к остановке - only on foot (walked)

In case of bus (possible contexts):

- How much time does it take to get to the center on the bus?

Автобус идёт 20 минут до центра. - estimated travel time, the bus is not actually moving

- How long have we been going on the bus?

Автобус едет 20 минут до центра. - the bus is actually moving, in this meaning you can not use ходить/идти

Hope this helps. :)

UPDATE

Автобус подошел к остановке. - the bus is at the bus stop, the passengers can get on the bus now

I'd like to add that Автобус подъехал к остановке.(the bus came to the bus stop) is still a valid option. The difference is that we emphasize the fact of movement when using ехать. Please, note this difference is usually unimportant.

UPDATE 2

Автобус ходит по расписанию. - the bus goes on schedule, but today the bus is on servicing, and the passengers are waiting in vain. Another example: Я хожу в школу. In both examples, Ходить is to change location in the most general sense. Credits to @Arioch

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    "the bus is not actually moving" - this is a bit off, there is no THE bus, the talk is about a general buses schedule. So, "on average", or "in theory" or "by the book" it would take bus 20 minutes to go to center. But it is not some specific THE bus. And I would not say the идёт/едет here is a 100% rule. Indeed, with "drives" being more technically correct, it TENDS to be more used to describe the certain real situation with the certain real bus, while more generic/abstract "go" here would tend to describe overall, detached ideas. The bias is real, but it is not a bulletproof law I bet – Arioch Jul 10 '17 at 9:03
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    @Chill2Macht yes, a bus can подойти к остановке. And one can say like "due to railway accident, today trains only travel to (some-non-last-city)" - it would be like "сегодня поезда в сторону ХХХ идут только до остановки YYY". And then month later you may have a casual speech, like "they rebuilt the railroad and trains are again reaching XXX" - "дорогу починили и поезда снова ходят до XXX". So, ходить/идти indeed have a strong tint of general movement, when specific mean of propulsion is not of concern and the effects of the movement are. – Arioch Jul 10 '17 at 9:17
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    No, it is exactly bus, but it is not "a bus" nor "the bus", it is uncountable word, representing the whole category of all basses in the world. Like maybe "nobody has car here. // Oh, and which kind of car that is? is it the yellow car or the black car ?" See, the first sentence does not refer some really existing car, it refers to the very concept of cars in general. In "автобус идет" here bus would be the subject. Just it does not represent the physical object, but more of the concept, some vague "typical proper bus going this way" – Arioch Jul 10 '17 at 10:53
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    "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain" - can you identify the specific rain referred to here? What was the exact date and location? What was the raindrops temperature? What was the exact duration of this single specific rain mentioned in this line? – Arioch Jul 10 '17 at 10:55
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    @Chill2Macht, I'll try to add a little bit. "Ехать" is connected to wheels and driving. So when I hear the word I imaging wheels spinning or a vehicle maneuvering. "Идти" is a neutral word that only means to move form one location to another by ground. So a car, a bus, a train can both "ехать/подехать/уехать" and "идти/подойти/уйти", but the more heavy and less maneuverable the vehicle is the more likely it will "идти". Bikes are never "ходят" and trains tend not to "ехать" but "идти". "Идти" (being more neutral) is also more formal word so you are more likely to see it in official documents. – AlexVB Jul 10 '17 at 10:58
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  1. Yes, it is correct. Asking "why?" make no sense, because "идти" just means a lot of things. That's how languages work.

Идёт дождь/снег - it is raining/snowing.

Идёт дым - there's smoke (over there).

Гроссмейстер сходил конём - The grand master moved the knight (chess). And note - it's a Knight in English but only a Horse in Russian. Please don't ask why :)

Эта рубашка ему идёт - this shirt suits him well.

  1. Yes, this is corect too. But "Вчера мы ходили в Большой театр" does not mean "yesterday we walked to the Bolshoy theatre". It's more like "we were in the theatre yesterday".

If you want to make it clear that you walked the whole way, you can add "пешком" which means "by foot".

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  • с-ходил - is kind of perfect tense: completed his move (с-делал свой ход) – Arioch Jul 10 '17 at 9:11
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    @Chill2Macht As you can see it - yes, it is true. It's not only about movement by foot. BTW, Russian students learning English sometimes have similar problem as you now, because they are often taught that "to go" means "идти" (e.g. to move by foot). – Abakan Jul 10 '17 at 10:11
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    @Chill2Macht Well, saying "вчера мы ходили в Большой театр" you say that you have visited a theatre performance yesterday. There is no information about how you did arrive to the theatre - by foot, by car etc. "Вчера мы ехали в Большой театр" is also valid, but the listener would expect some extension - f.e. "вчера мы ехали в Большой театр и таксист заблудился" (yesterday we were going to the Bolshoy theatre and the taxi drive got lost) or "вчера мы ехали в Большой театр, но передумали и поехали домой" (yesterday we were going t the Bolshoy theatre but changed our minds and went back home). – Abakan Jul 10 '17 at 10:28
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    @Chill2Macht "Вчера мы ездили в Большой театр" is correct too. This clearly implies that you were using some transport and/or took a relatively long way and "driving" was a sonsiderable part of it (from a suburb for example). I personally wouldn't say "вчера мы ездили в театр" if there hade been only three bus stops. And you can always say "вчера мы были в театре". – Abakan Jul 11 '17 at 7:24
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    @Chill2Macht, yes, you absolutely can идти to Paris, but this will be a long walk :) It doesn't mean you are going to invade it at all. Probably we're talking about идти **на** Париж, which (not always!) has a meaning of invasion. Also: when somebody calls you on the phone you say Я сейчас хожу по парку. You have no clear direction, but you certainly move. Ходить always implies changing your position in space. This is what I wanted to point out. – sr9yar Jul 11 '17 at 14:09
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All the examples in your textbook are correct, mainly because the word "ход" basically means "move/motion/process" ("движение") (do not mistake it with "ходьба" - "walking"), and better representation of Russian words "ходить/идти" is English "go", and that's why Russians apply words/verbs connected with this notion to everything.
In connection to the journey:
In your example

пассажиры на автобусе подъехали к остановке


you must say "доехали/подъехали", because it was specifically pointed that people arrived in the bus. Without such a pointer (about means of transportation) you can use either "подъехали" or "подошли". There are no real restrictions about it.
Also:

  • In reference to mail (letters, packages, anything): "почта пришла";
  • Common phrase "дошло / дошло наконец-то" - "(i/you/anyone) got it / finally got it" (could be used as a question: "Дошло?" - "Do you get it?");
  • Seasons: "лето пришло", "подходит осень", "а скоро и зима придёт";
  • All the water transport "ходит".
  • Time: "пришло время (для)" - "it's time (to)". The clock that works is "идущие часы", not-working - "стоящие/остановившиеся часы", sometimes you can meet the word "ходики" - it's also a clock;
  • "Ход событий" - "course of events" etc.

There is really a lot of meanings/applyings of the word "ход" in the Russian language, I highly doubt that anyone can touch all of the aspects of its usage. If you want, check up all the info about the word in the link below.

https://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D1%85%D0%BE%D0%B4

Good luck with further learning.:)

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  • So would it be correct to say that I ходить/идти to Paris (even though presumably I would have to use a plane to get there)? I remember someone telling me once when I said that that it was wrong and sounded like I was invading the place I said I went to. Is there some rule of thumb for how far away the place can be before you have to use ездить/ехать instead of ходить/идти? – Chill2Macht Jul 11 '17 at 6:25
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    If you'll describe your probable journey to Paris with the word "ходить/идти" the meaning of the sentence will be either like it is/is going to be a camping trip or like you're a soldier and your army is going to take the city. I think it's a safe bet to say "ехать/летать" if your destination point is another country or city/village/etc (also rivers and mountains, camping sites - if you're not walking there), and to say "ходить" if it's about any school/museum/theater/hospital/building/sqare/etc if you're not specifically describing the way you'll use to reach it. – thane Jul 11 '17 at 7:48
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    @Chill2Macht contrary to thane, I don't think I'd ever say я ходил в XXX where XXX is a town or similar, regardless how close I live, except for a case like я ходил в соседнюю деревню. As a stretch, if it is like a camping trip, as s/he suggests, I'd say explicitly я ходил в турпоход до Парижа (I went on a camping trip to Paris). – LLlAMnYP Jul 11 '17 at 9:44
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    @LLlAMnYP please notice that I explained possible meaning of such sentence and did NOT say that it's okay to use it regarding matters of visitation. Explicitly in the next sentence of my comment you could see an advice for the contrary. – thane Jul 11 '17 at 9:54
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    Absolutely -- didn't mean to swipe at you there, I just wanted to make it explicit, that even in the implied other meanings it's not enough to just use я ходил в Париж, one would need to clarify/complete the sentence. And I hope you'll agree, there are exceptions to the exceptions, as in the case of the village next door. – LLlAMnYP Jul 11 '17 at 9:58
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In Russian, practically every kind of vehicle can ходить. It is very easy to tell if the sentence is about actual walking on foot or about a vehicle moving. If the subject of the sentence is a person/people, then it is about actual walking on foot, like in Все вошли в театр. If the subject of the sentence is a name of a vehicle, then it is about a vehicle moving, like in Автобус подошёл к остановке.

The only exception is when the sentence is about sailors, they tend to use ходить in the meaning of to sail. In this case the destination is a port, or a continent, or a sea/ocean, or a country that has an access to a sea, like in В прошлом году мы ходили в Японию. It is easy to tell the sentence is about a sailor because one cannot walk to Japan which is situated on an archipelago. When a non-sailor says плавать (to sail) to a Russian sailor, the sailor will typically be offended and will correct the non-sailor by quoting the famous sailors' proverb, Говно плавает, а корабль/моряк ходит. (lit. "Shit floats, a ship/sailor walks." In Russian, 'to sail', 'to float', and 'to swim' are all called with the same verb плавать). Note the word судоходство, 'navigation.'

Also, one can ходить only on a ship, like Я ходил на разных судах. (I sailed different ships), it is wrong to say *Я хожу на автобусе.

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  • OK, so when ходить/идти connotes movement, it is only restricted to connoting movement by foot when the subject is a person -- but it is not restricted to having only people as subjects, and when the subject is not a person it doesn't connote movement by foot because it couldn't -- is that correct? – Chill2Macht Jul 10 '17 at 10:10
  • Also, it only correct to say that vehicles ходить/идти? I know it is for boats, but for other vehicles, would it be incorrect to say автобус подъехал instead of автобус подошёл? Or can one choose between the two? – Chill2Macht Jul 10 '17 at 10:16
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    @Chill2Macht - As for the first comment: yes. As for the 2nd one: you can always use ехать with land vehicles and плавать/плыть with boats, but not with planes, planes can only летать/лететь. Also, уехать/приехать when used without naming the kind of transport can be used irrespective of the actual kind of transport, that is, even if it was a plane or a ship, like in "Андрей уехал в Америку." – Yellow Sky Jul 10 '17 at 10:31
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    Ok, I'll add one more example to the discussion then :) Машина едет задним ходом. – sr9yar Jul 10 '17 at 10:34
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    to sail in Russian would be "идти/ходить под парусом" - again the generic travel/move verb and then specification of propulsion means. Like with "идти пешком" - similar structure. – Arioch Jul 10 '17 at 11:01
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That's a difficult problem when we have such multimeaningful verbs like "go". But you can always find an answer in the Russian -English dictionary. Languages use different idioms for movement, especially for means of transport. Our pupils are often surprised to hear that English -speaking people "take a bus, catch a bus",whereas we садимся в автобус, or even на автобус. Those are different images. There lots of funny pictures based on such expressions and poems.

Дождь идет и не проходит, дождь, дождь,

Дождь идет– хотя не ходит, дождь, дождь.

As for Мы ходили в кино, (whenever the meaning is "visit, attend ", you say ходили.) Ездили is also possible whenever you mention the means of transport you used.

Вчера мы ходили в Большой театр. Времени было в обрез, поэтому поехали на такси.

Автобус подошел быстро. Мы сели и поехали. The bus идет, people едут на нем

But there is nothing wrong if you say. Машина подошла /подъехала быстро. Both options would be relevant.

One more point is when we talk about how long it takes for a bus to cover some distance, we also say идет.We mean in general.

Автобус до Чертовиц идет два часа.

But if we talk about a certain bus which is in motion and we participate in it, we say

Мы едем уже два часа.

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  • Not only rain or bus can walk. We say "тесто подошло" when yeast dough rised – edo1 Jul 22 '17 at 1:35
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While I agree with the most answers here, I suggest to take a look from a historical perspective. The verb ходить (to walk) is older than ехать (to drive/to ride). Hence the former has much broader range of meanings.

Now, let's take a look at various means of transportation:

Boats always ходят (walking)

Trains almost always ходят (walking). There is only a narrow set of situations where trains are allowed to ехать (to drive/to ride). Example - "поезд едет по рельсам" - "train rides on rails". Note that there is no specific destination, direction or schedule implied - it is only about the riding process itself.

Horse drawn carriages ездят (driving/riding)

Now you see, if we progress from trains and carriages to trams and buses, a confusion ensues. Newer vehicles have features of both trains and carriages, so as a result, the language has a mixture of applicable verbs. Generally, the verb "ходить" wins wherever a bus can be directly compared to a train. "Автобус идет по расписанию" - "The bus goes on schedule". But buses have a considerable leeway with "ехать" (to drive/to ride). "Автобус едет по расписанию" - "The bus drives on schedule" is also an acceptable form.

And in either case, when we talk about the passengers and not the trains/buses themselves, ехать is the correct word. "Мы едем на поезде" - "We ride on a train", but never "Мы идем на поезде" - "We go (walk) on a train".

The other example (Вчера мы ходили в Большой театр - Yesterday we went to Bolshoy theater) is actually a completely different beast. The verb ходить here actually means "to attend" and not the means of transportation.

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  • Thank you for the comment about the ages/etymology of words -- it is actually very insightful and helps me to understand this better. 1. So it would be completely incorrect to say that поезд подъехал к платформе instead of поезд подошёл к платформе , but it would be correct to say автобус подъехал к остановке instead of автобус подошёл к остановке? 2. Is there a rule of thumb for what you can visit using ходить/идти? For example, you can ходить/идти to a theater in your city, but what about a theater in a different city? What about ходить/идти to Paris? – Chill2Macht Jul 11 '17 at 6:19
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    Horse drawn carriages can also ходить/идти: "Табор уходит в небо", "Дилижанс идет до Москвы 72—75 часов" here. "Дилижанс идет день и ночь" here. – Yellow Sky Jul 11 '17 at 10:11
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    @Chill2Macht - yes, поезд подъехал к платформе would be incorrect (in vast majority of contexts). For a bus, both forms are correct. For an event in another city (and another city itself) it is Ok to use ехать - "Мы ездили на рок-фестиваль в Париж" - "We drove to a rock festival in Paris". But for an event in context of another city, it's still ходить - "В Париже мы ходили в Оперный театр" - "In Paris, we went to the Paris Opera". – Alexander Jul 11 '17 at 16:57
  • @Yellow Sky - табор (migratory community) follows another rule. While individual carriages ездят, a set of carriages - караван (train) - ходит. Дилижанс (stagecoach) is a puzzle to me, I don't have a good explanation at the moment. I suspect it is due to both etymology of the word (it's French) and the context (it's about route and schedule). – Alexander Jul 11 '17 at 17:10
  • @Alexander - Табор moves on carts with wheels, караван usually implies camels walking. Consider this: Первая телега подошла к ограде here. – Yellow Sky Jul 11 '17 at 17:47
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As Russian myself, I think it has something to do with the SPEED of moving/transportation.

So 1) It's correct. "Vehicles don't walk, and they don't even have feet to walk." It just means that bus had the speed of somebody with feet during the action.

Also, ships are walking as well (and yes, they don't have feet either). But most of the Russians incorrectly use verb "swim" instead.

2) How can one distinguish trips where the person walked the entire way from trips when one used vehicular means of transportation?

It's usually clear from the context, based on distance. When phrase is talking about some event like birthday or theater performance then it's more like "went", which has undefined meaning of transportation as well; only the fact "being there" matters.

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  • Thank you, the comment about the speed is insightful as well, and does seem like it might be the deciding factor. As a follow-up, is there a rule of thumb for what you can "visit" or "go/went" using ходить/идти? For example, I know that you can ходить/идти to a theater in your city even if you use public transportation to get there, but what about a theater in a different city (where you presumably have to use a car or a train)? What about ходить/идти to Paris (or a theater in Paris) (where you have to use a plane to get there)? – Chill2Macht Jul 11 '17 at 6:21
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    The speed argument doesn't seem correct. You don't say, for example, "телега подошла к крыльцу", even though it had speed. Also, there's nothing "incorrect" about using the verb "плыть" with ships. – Headcrab Jul 11 '17 at 10:39
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    "Куда идёт этот поезд/автобус?" has nothing to do with speed. – Yellow Sky Jul 11 '17 at 12:11
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Ходить/идти can have different meanings, not all of them are "to walk". It often means "to move", "to transport [itself]", in the most general sense. Therefore, автобус подошёл к остановке is correct, it doesn't mean the bus walked to the bus stop, it means the bus moved itself to the bus stop, no need to say more, we all know how it is with the buses. Автобус подъехал к остановке is also correct, the only difference is that it makes the nuance of how vehicles move themselves around a bit more explicit. So, an автобус can both подойти and подъехать, the same meaning. A пассажир, though, by himself can only подойти (walk). In "пассажиры на автобусе подъехали к остановке" it feels that only подъехали can be used, because "пассажир подошел" gives an image of a passenger walking, all by himself. However, it is OK to say "моряки на яхте подошли к острову", that is sort of professional slang, although widely used.

Ходить/идти may also mean something like "to visit", "to attend": пойти в театр, пойти в туалет, ходить в школу, etc. Speaking literally, to transport yourself into the facility in order to use the facility for its intended purpose. Therefore, "я ходил в театр" does not tell anything about my means of transportation: I might have walked, rode a taxi, flew a helicopter, even. No way to distinguish from that phrase alone. Why would there be?

Is it really that different from English "go", "walk" and "attend", for example? They can also be used interchangeably in some context, but not always. And you can go to a theater on foot or by bus, and that, too, would be indistinguishable, unless directly specified.

Now, if by "why?" you're asking "where's logic in all that?" - there's little to none, unfortunately, as with any other natural language. If by "why?" you're asking "how do I know which verb to use?" - that comes only with practice and experience, unfortunately, as with any other natural language. No single answer on StackExchange, nor a single textbook paragraph, however brilliant, will enlighten you enough to achieve the ultimate understanding.

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  • As an example of what I don't understand, why can I ходить/идти to the theater using the bus and the subway, but I can't ходить/идти to Paris using a plane? (someone told me that sounds like I'm invading Paris, not visiting, so I know the meaning is different, while it isn't for the theater for some reason). Or why can I ходить/идти to a theater in my city, but not to a theater in a different city? What's the rule of thumb? – Chill2Macht Jul 11 '17 at 6:15
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    "Идти/ходить в Париж" doesn't sound right because of the distance, I think (if you need to use a plane, especially). Still, such expressions are sometimes used. For example, people living in a village really close to Paris may say "схожу в Париж". In case you're going to attack Paris with your army, it's "идти на Париж", not "идти в Париж", but that's a somewhat unrelated idiom, I'd say. You can ходить/идти to a theater in a different city, for example: "Вот приеду в Париж - схожу в театр, пойду в бордель!" – Headcrab Jul 11 '17 at 6:47
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    There's an old song/lullaby that goes like "Вырастешь большой, станешь в Питер ходить...", but that sounds... won't say wrong, but unconventional, even to my Russian ears... – Headcrab Jul 11 '17 at 6:50
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In Russian, do vehicles walk?

Walking vehicles do. :-)

The difference between 'идти́' and 'е́хать' is almost that between 'go' and 'ride'. Whenever you have doubts as to which one to use, make these changes to your question:

  • Идти́/ходи́ть -> go.
  • Е́хать/е́здить -> ride.
  • Russian -> English.

and then use your knowledge of English to answer the question. Let's see how this works:

  • Do vehicles 'идти́/ходи́ть' in Russian? This translates to -->

    Do vehicles 'go' in English? Of course they do!

    This train goes to Liverpool Street.

    Э́тот по́езд идёт до Ливерпу́ль-Стрит.

  • Do people 'идти́/ходи́ть' in Russian? -->

    Do people 'go' in English? Of course they do!

    The boy goes to school.

    Ма́льчик хо́дит в шко́лу.

  • Do people 'е́хать/е́здить' in Russian? -->

    Do people 'ride' in English? Of course they do!

    The girl is riding her bike.

    Де́вочка е́дет на велосипе́де.

    (Notice the preposition на which is required.)

    The only difference between Russian and English here is a broader range of things Russians can ride which includes not just horses, bicycles and scooters but also bigger things like cars, buses and trains. I.e. to ride something in Russian, you don't have to have it between your legs. ;-) The reasoning is: "If it carries you while you're on top of it / in it, then you are riding it."

  • Do vehicles 'е́хать/е́здить' in Russian? -->

    Do vehicles 'ride' in English? Sometimes they do! Apparently, in American English one can 'ride a bus' and sometimes the bus can 'ride' on its own:

    http://www.proz.com/kudoz/English/linguistics/1518802-the_bus_is_riding.html

    This might be a bit of a stretch for English but in Russian you would often see wheely things that just 'ride along' (е́дут / е́здят).

    Авто́бус е́дет в депо́.

    The bus is going to the depot.

If vehicles can both go and ride, how do you know when to use which?

  • Use 'go' (идти́, ходи́ть) when speaking of transport that runs on a schedule, is on duty or has a set route or destination. In English we would say 'runs' or 'operates' to convey this meaning. This works for buses, trams, trains, ferries and ships but not airplanes, jets or rockets which 'fly' instead (лета́ть / лете́ть). I wonder what verb they will use when space transportation becomes mainstream. It might take after 'ship' which 'goes' (Э́тот кора́бль идёт на Марс?) or 'rocket' which flies (Э́та раке́та лети́т на Луну́?)
  • Use 'ride' (е́хать, е́здить) otherwise for all things with wheels and 'float' (плыть / пла́вать) for all water transport, including submarines. As already mentioned in other answers and comments, seamen frown upon плыть / пла́вать; they prefer ходи́ть instead: кора́бль хо́дит. That's their way of showing that they are always on duty.

OK, now that we know these rules, which of the two sentences below is correct?

  • Ме́жду э́тими города́ми хо́дит электри́чка.
  • Ме́жду э́тими города́ми е́здит электри́чка.
  • (Lit. Between these cities runs an electric train.)
  • (Proper English: There is a train service running between these cities.)

Хо́дит is much more appropriate here because е́здит would give an impression of the train just 'riding around' in different directions with no particular purpose.

Now on to your question. Which of these two is correct?

Авто́бус идёт 20 мину́т до це́нтра.

Авто́бус е́дет 20 мину́т до це́нтра.

Again, идёт is more preferable as buses normally run on a schedule.

Now these two:

Авто́бус подошёл к остано́вке.

Авто́бус подъе́хал к остано́вке.

I would say both are correct. Whether or not the bus pulling in to a stop is part of its set route is a judgement call, so either can be used.

Вчера́ мы ходи́ли в Большо́й теа́тр... Мы вошли́ в авто́бус... Мы дое́хали на авто́бусе до це́нтра. В це́нтре мы вы́шли из авто́буса. Все вошли́ в теа́тр.

Is this correct?

Yes, that sounds like a grammatically and logistically correct description of a theatre visit. You could say Вчера́ мы е́здили в Большо́й теа́тр if you really wanted to stress the fact that you needed a ride to get there.

Key takeaway: идти́ / ходи́ть = go, not walk; it can mean walk e.g. учи́ться ходи́ть = learn to walk, so you were not taught entirely wrong.

Can one walk across the city using the bus?

Yes, if it's a walking bus. :-)

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2

Buses do walk, but only when:

  • describing it in abstract terms ("this bus goes to Bolshoy Theatre?" - "Этот автобус идёт до Большого Театра") - i.e. the question is whether its scheduled path supposed to go there, rather than specific motion of the vehicle.
  • talking about departure/arrival of a scheduled transport, e.g. public transport - "автобус пришёл на 5 минут позже" (the bus arrived 5 minutes late), "я пришёл к остановке, а автобус уже ушёл" (I came to the bus stop, but the bus has already left).

Same goes for trains, trams, metro, and any other means of public transportation. "Твой поезд уже ушёл" - "your train has already left" - also used as generic description of being too late for something, to the point that there's no hope for fixing the situation.

Ships are a tricky case, as professional seamen like to insist a ship always ходит ("walks"), and never плывет/плавает ("swims") but if you're not talking to one of them, it's ok to say корабль плывет/отплыл/приплыл.

However, if you describe somebody arriving/leaving in a private car or bus, you'd say он приехал/уехал - he has arrived/left. In English, it is the same as above, but in Russian in this context пришёл would mean arrived on foot.

If in the above context you say приехал instead of пришёл about, e.g., train or public bus, you will be understood, but it would sound a bit weird.

In general, ходить/идти is frequently used to describe scheduled, organized, paced movement (in addition to regular walking, i.e. using one's feet for locomotion) - e.g. clocks also "walk" (часы идут), mail "walks" (почта пришла, посылка пришла по почте) - that includes email btw, and also for weather - снег идёт, дождь прошёл. When once sees this verb, one should not think of only walking on foot, but also going, visiting, attending, etc.

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