Stats released by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality reveal a record number of people used Istanbul’s public transport system in 2018. Including railways, trams, subways and buses, passenger numbers reached a staggering 1.6 billion people.
715 million passengers used subways, while buses carried 963 million passengers over 361 million kilometres, a stat that the Daily Sabah Newspaper says is an equivalent of 9016 journeys around the world.
Istanbul, the top visited tourist destination in Turkey, and a commercial, business, educational and economic hub is also the number one place for foreign real estate investors looking to get their foot on the Turkish real estate market.
The transport stats coincided with a press meeting by Binali Yildirim, who promises to ease traffic congestion if he is elected as mayor in the up and coming local elections of March. His election campaign focuses on Istanbul’s traffic congestion, also caused by a growing number of car owners.
Binali Yildirim said the city needs 1.75 million parking spaces, a dramatic increase on the current 770,000. The lack of car parking spaces is leading drivers to park on roads and further increase congestion. Emphasising he didn’t want to stop traffic but make it flow more efficiently, he wants to decrease traffic jam queues averaging out at 45 minutes.
Data collection shows over the last 5 years, new roads, transportation systems, and mega projects like the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge have already decreased congestion levels from 62% to 49%. The Eurasia Underwater Tunnel used by cars has reduced travel times by 85 minutes on average.
Yildirim’s campaign plans called Istanbul 4.0, are to increase the city’s railway network from 170 kilometres to 450 kilometres by 2023. As well as serving as Turkey’s last prime minister before they swapped over to the presidential system, Yildirim’s served as Turkey’s Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister.
In addition to tackling traffic congestion, Istanbul is keen to maintain green spaces in a growing city and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended a ceremony to mark the opening of five green parks in Istanbul.
The parks are part of a more extensive program to implement green spaces in 18 other cities of Turkey. One concept within this program is to turn abandoned old public spaces into green parks, like Ataturk Airport when it closes.