Saturday, August 8, 2015

Turkish Traffic Delight

Turkey is the country known for its Ottoman empire and Turkish delight sweets. I was recently posted in Istanbul and got an opportunity to see the history of ottoman empire very closely. This blog is not about the Ottoman empire and other great places of Istanbul though. This blog is about the traffic woes in Istanbul, one of the most developed cities of Turkey and has the presence in both Europe and Asia. Unique city to have European side as well as Asian side and the Bosporus in between. Culture wise one of the best cities I've ever visited in recent times.Istanbul has a population of 14.5 million and is spread across 5400 square KM.

Coming to traffic woes which is the focus of this blog, Istanbul has nearly almost all the type of transit system within the city. Some of them are provided below as I plan to take you through each one of it detail.
  1. Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS)
  2. Metro Rail
  3. Metro Bus
  4. Metro Tram
  5. Metro Funicular
  6. Ferries to cross from European side to Asian side (vice versa)
  7. Private transport
  8. Taxis (Yellow Taxis) 
  9. Marmaray Tube
  10. Walkways,Pathways,Cycle paths etc 
Before I start with the details let me tell you that even though Istanbul has almost all type of transport systems in place, the private transport still takes anyone about an hour to reach 20 km during peak hours. This may vary depending on traffic and may sometime take you 2 hours as well. 

The roads in Istanbul are wide and have at least 3 lanes each side in many part of the city except the old city of course, where the population is quite high and place for expansion is very low.

Overall the above transport systems are developed to help people to travel long distances in a very short time but again when it comes to taxis, private transport or metro bus the time taken does not seem to reduce during peak hours.

           BRTS is developed with a very good plan and really reduces the lot of time when you are using this transport. This is developed with proper fly overs for the people to exit safely and securely. The ticketing system is same across all the public mode transports. You can buy prepaid card and use in any of the public transport systems. Refer to wiki link below for more information on BRTS

Dedicated BRTS lanes

Traffic jam of private vehicles

BRTS Station and staircase for entry and exit
Ticketing entry

Over bridge for safe entry and exit to BRTS 

As I'm currently located in Pune, when I compare the BRTS in Istanbul, the one in Pune is really pathetic and was designed in hurry without any design or plan. Even today the BRTS which is being implemented in Pune does not have any safe exit for people using it.It has become a death trap in Pune.   
        Metro rail is totally underground with a exceptions of few stations. I would guess it to be at least 8-10 floors (average) under the city. Very nicely developed and very safe to travel with metro rail. I've used this system on regular basis for my office travel during my stay in Istanbul. The access to stations and exits are very well designed with proper escalators, lifts etc so people can use it with ease. During the peak hours you can comfortably stand and travel.
       Metro Tram is another good transport in Istanbul within the congested areas of the city. Tram provides a very good connectivity for most of the tourist attractions within the city.
       Metro buses are also available for transport but they use the regular lanes so most of the time due to traffic congestion they run late during the peak hours.

Metro Funicular
         This is another way of transport which is through the Tunnel.One of the Funiculars is 139 years old at the time of this blog.

Funicular Track


Metro Rail Inside View


Metro Rail Station at Yenikapi


Metro Rail Walkways

Tram route

Metron Rail Entry and Exit Escalators

Metro Bus

139 year old Funicular

139 year old Tunnel

Bus Stop

Public Transport Map
      Ferries are used to travel from European side to Asian side as well as to some of the small islands around Istanbul. These give a very beautiful view of the Istanbul and are available from multiple stations.

Ferry from Asian Side to European side

Ferry from European side to Asian side.
 Marmaray Tube is under sea transit system which also can be used if you want to go to European or Asian side.

The walkways at some of the places in Istanbul are really nice and give a good walking experience.

Yellow Taxis are famous in Istanbul and provide one more good way of transport but you have to be careful during peak hours.

Overall Istanbul has many different ways but still has lot of traffic problems when in comes to private transport to be used. Istanbul is the 13th place in the most congested cities for traffic.

I'm surprised to find Istanbul in the list as it has a very good public transport but still it takes the same time as that in Pune for travelling 20 KM if you use private transport (more than 1 hour).
If we have to reduce the traffic woes, I think it is better to have policy to reduce the use of private transport so more and more people shift to public transport systems.