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Istanbul Gets Bus Rapid Transit

Istanbul's Chronic Congestion
Istanbul has faced chronic traffic congestion for decades. Photo by adstream on flickr.

Istanbul is creating 6 new bus rapid transit lines according to The New Anatolian, an English language Turkish newspaper.

The director of Istanbul Electric Tram and Funicular Company (IETT), Mehmet Ozdemir, announced that the city will build 6 bus rapid transit (BRT) lines (including one already underway) and that construction should be finished by the end of 2008.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a cost-effective rapid transit solution that acts like an above ground subway but with extra long articulated “accordion” buses instead of rail cars and physically separated lanes so that the buses don’t have to compete with traffic. Passengers pay at the station before they get on and the buses come frequently, just like in a subway.

Electronic ticketing system in a Mexico City BRT station

But unlike a subway, BRT is typically 1/10th of the cost, so cities can do much more with the money they have available and ideally make a bigger impact on congestion and pollution while managing the forces of motorization and urbanization. Take a look at some videos on BRT here and here.

Done well, these 6 new lines could put a huge dent in the congestion that plagues Istanbul’s streets.

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  • bunmi

    I am looking for ticketing issues around BRT , anyone with any resources on managing ticketing , collecting fare, electronic and Telephone ticketing resources will be appreciated

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  • Adriana

    There is another clip of a high quality BRT station here:

    I was recently in Bogota and rode this, and I have to say that I was pretty impressed by how slick and attractive it is.

  • You make a good point about how narrow streets are an impediment for developing mass transit systems like BRT which take up significant space on the road. India has a very similar issue which it will have to work out in the future especially since it has made bus rapid transit a priority. However, this isn’t just a problem for mass transit; its also a problem for cars. Right now people in Istanbul have no place to park on the roads and actually put their cars on the sidewalks where the block pedestrians from using the streets. At some point, I suspect, car drivers will become fed up and demand that streets be widened. That’s what happened in the United States where entire neighborhoods were torn up so that 6-8 lane highways could go ripping through the city. It seems like London – another city with narrow streets – is getting close to a solution by using congestion charging. Granted it already has an underground subway. But its also come up with some really innovative ways for moving people around narrow streets, namely the double-decker bus.

    But alas you are correct that many people, especially car owners, will not be happy when you charge them to use the roads.

  • Ari Tamat

    It will be interesting to see how successful the project is in Istanbul, which is a dense city with narrow streets. The same scheme is being implemented in Jakarta, Indonesia – the largest city in Southeast Asia. Construction of public transportation systems had been neglected for decades, resulting in endless traffic jams. However, praise for the “busway” project is far from universal. The capital’s burgeoning middle class sees it as an invasion of their private cars’ right-of-way (on some roads, the busway takes up two of the existing four lanes of traffic). This led to demonstrations and even sabotage during the construction.
    In an expansive city such as Mexico City or Caracas it may be easier to secure the necessary land and car lanes.