Megacity Sustainable Transportation System: Istanbul Mass Transit Systems, Turkey

Megacity Sustainable Transportation System Reducing Traffic Congestion, Decreasing Emissions, and Improving Air Quality and Public Mobility: Istanbul Metropolis Mass Transit Systems, Turkey.

Istanbul’s Multimodal Mass Transport System:

Electric Tram (Main Square-Sultan Ahmet), Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is an ancient city of immense historical importance, strategic crossroad of civilizations, and a modern metropolis. Over the last half-century, Istanbul has undergone a rapid transition to a sprawling megacity, growing from just over 1 million inhabitants in 1945 to an estimated 12 million in 2011. The number of cars on Istanbul’s streets has increased eightfold since 1980, faster than its population growth. Currently, about 1.6 million automobiles are making millions of trips on its roads with 640 new cars registered in Istanbul each day. The city has tried to provide excellent and convenient multimodal public transportation to its millions of residents and tourists who visit each year.

The intermodal transportation assets include: public bus, street tram (serving most of ancient historic sites in Istanbul such as Hagia Sophia/Sultan Ahmet), metro subway, light rail, bus rapid transit, and ferry traffic.

  • Istanbul’s Underground Metro – light Rail Transit System:
    Metro (Under Ground Light Rail), Istanbul, Turkey, 8 June 2011

    The Istanbul Metro, is a mass-transit underground 20-km railway network that serves the city of Istanbul, Turkey. Started operation in 2000 with 124 vehicles, it now includes 13 stations and 22 more are under construction along 24-km new line.

  • Istanbul’s Metrobus – Bus Rapid Transit System:

    Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul, Turkey (photo credit: Ministry of Culture, Republic of Turkey)
    Istanbul’s highly successful Metrobus corridor opened in September 2007. It is 41 kilometers in length with 31 stations serving 800,000 passengers per day. The 11-kilometer route extension of Istanbul’s metrobus serving the world’s first inter-continental bus rapid transit (BRT) line was unveiled in March 2009. This eased traffic congestion on the Bosphorus Bridge which had become a major bottleneck for Istanbul commuters traveling between Europe and Asia. In 2005 this bridge was crossed by 64 million vehicles. The BRT line eased traffic congestion, reduced travel times and decreased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Crossing the bridge by car takes as long as three hours. Taking Metrobus BRT, commuters can now crossover between continents in about 30 minutes with fairly easy access to metro and other bus services. (info and video credit: Embarq)

    It is one of the two bridges connecting Europe and Asia. Built in 1973 at a cost of US$200 million, the bridge is a gravity anchored suspension bridge with steel pylons and inclined hangers. The aerodynamic deck is hanging on zigzag steel cables. It is 1,510 m (4,954 ft) long with a deck width of 39 m (128 ft). The distance between the towers (main span) is 1,074 m (3,524 ft) and their height over road level is 105 m (344 ft). The clearance of the bridge from sea level is 64 m (210 ft). The Bosphorus Bridge had the 4th longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1973, and the longest outside the United States. The second Bosphorus Bridge, built in 1988, is known as the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge. (info credit:

Dr. Uddin’s note: I visited Istanbul first time with my wife in November 2002 and used the tram on tracks which conveniently served our trips from Sultan Ahmet area to the Grand Bazaar. On the invitation of Professor Murat Ergun I lectured on “Airborne LIDAR Technology for Highway Applications” at the Istanbul Technical University (ITU).

Sultan Ahmet Mosque (with six minarets), Istanbul, Turkey (One of Istanbul's famous landmarks, also known as the Blue Mosque, was built by the Sultan Ahmet I during 1609-16. Its architect Mehmet Agha built several other grand mosques in Istanbul. U.S. President Obama visited the Blue Mosque on April 7, 2009.)

I was invited by Professor Thanos Nikolaides during June 2011 at his 5th International pavement conference in Thessaloniki, Greece. Accompanied by my wife and youngest son, we extended our trip to visit Istanbul and stayed in a hotel near the Sultan Ahmet Blue Mosque. Again, we had a chance to travel on tram connecting to underground metro for my visit to ITU. Alper Durmus (my current graduate student who was in Turkey at that time) helped us in this trip as well as ferry trip to Bursa.

On the kind invitation and support of ITU Professors (Murat Ergun, Faik Iyinam, Sukriye Iyinam, and Nur Banu) I lectured at ITU. My lecture was on the topic of applications of remote sensing and geospatial technologies for assessing natural disaster impacts and mitigation strategies. Along with my family we also visited Golden Horn area, traveled along Bosphorus to the Black Sea area, and crossed the new Bosphorus Bridge for a visit to the Asian side. The 2011 trip revealed to me that public transportation is flourishing in this bustling metropolis while providing affordable mobility and reducing emissions.

Photo shows us on the road to Black Sea (left) and at a lake resort restaurant on the Asian side of Istanbul.

Dr. Uddin and family with ITU Professors and their families, Istanbul, Turkey, 8 June 2011

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