Public Transportation in Istanbul
Istanbul is a big city with its 13 million people living on an area of 5200 square kilometers (2000 square miles) divided by the Bosphorus Strait into two continents. Undoubtedly, in a city of this dimensions the traffic is one of the biggest problems. The continuous increase in the population because of the emigration and the number of motor vehicles make the city traffic a nightmare.
Most of the transportation in Istanbul is based on buses, minibuses, taxis and private automobiles, which creates a big pressure on the city traffic. Like in other big metropolitan cities of the world, the best solution of this problem would be the railway system which also helps to lower environmental pollution problems as well. In the last decade, many tramlines are built to lessen the traffic and also the subway is being extended somehow, but still new public transportation projects are essential.
Rail transport systems contribute to the solution of the traffic congestion and environmental pollution. Today, Istanbul has two railway systems; one is a 20 km (12 mi) long light metro line first opened in 1989 and is running through the districts of Aksaray, Otogar, Esenler, Yenibosna and Ataturk Airport, the other is a 11 km (7 mi) long tram line running through Eminönü, Aksaray, Topkapi and Zeytinburnu. These two rail lines carry about 300-350 thousand passengers a day. There is also a short (8 km - 5 mi) subway line opened in 2000 and is running through the districts of Taksim, Osmanbey, Sisli, Gayrettepe, Levent, and 4.Levent, which is being extended to Maslak neighborhood from one end and also to Yenikapi neighborhood from the other end. The metro (subway) has a capacity of 70 thousand passengers per hour, one way.
There are huge rail system projects ongoing in Istanbul today. Marmaray project is the biggest and the most expensive project in the city's public transportation system, it includes an underwater tunnel passing underneath the Bosphorus thus connecting both continents. This rail tunnel will connect to a new Yenikapi - Halkali rail line on the European side and to a new Üsküdar - Gebze rail line on the Asian side, making a total lenght of 76 km (47 mi) of high capacity and fast public transportation system by the end of 2009.
Sea transportation is another important way of commuting in Istanbul, since the city is divided on two continents. Besides private passenger boats, also local municipality boats carry passengers from one side to the other. There are regular passenger ferries and also fast ferries operating between the shores of the Bosphorus.
For the public transportation in Istanbul, people use tickets or coins or mostly "smart ticket" (Akbil) system with a chip inside, this brings many savings and free connections between different types of public transportation. The use of the smart ticket has been encouraged, over 60% of passengers now use this electronic ticket.
Hope to see you soon in Istanbul.