Istanbul has a very wide variety of transportation available. This includes metro, trams, buses, minibuses, metrobuses, sea buses and ferries. The transport on land is managed by Istanbul Electric Tramway and Tunnel Establishment and Transportation Agency, while water transport is managed by Sea Bus Agency of Istanbul. Currently there are 13 rail system lines and a project is in place to increase that number. The Asian and European sides of Istanbul are connected by two bridges: Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge (1510 m) and Bosphorus Bridge (1071 m).
Metrobus (Turkish: Metrobüs) is a 50 km (31,1 mile) rapid bus transit route. It has 45 stations, which follow the city’s ring road, connecting Avcilar, Zincirlikuyu, Bosphorus Bridge and Sögülüçesme.
The first section of the Metrobus line was opened in 2007. It took 2 years to build and now it is used daily by over 800 000 passengers. The Turkish authorities have since assisted with the development of similar systems in Lahore and Pakistan. These were opened to the public in 2013. The name Metrobüs was coined by the transit agency to suggest that the system is a hybrid between a metro train and a bus, offering the speed of the metro and the comfort of a bus.
Two types of buses operate in Istanbul: municipality (IETT) and private company (Özel Halk Otobüsleri). Buses operated by the first agency are either red or white, or green. The latter use environmentally friendly engines. Private company buses are pale blue or green (naturally also environmentally friendly).
A dolmus is a shared taxi that seats a maximum of 8 passengers. It operates at both day and night on predetermined routes, but without a set of stops. The idea behind this is that each passenger only pays one eight of the fee that a normal Istanbul taxi would charge. Due to this, the vehicle will depart only once all the seats are taken.
What is “Istanbulkart”?
Istanbulkart is an electronic card, used as a transit pass for all public transport in Istanbul. The card has replaced the akbil transit pass, which was in use until 2010.
An Istanbulkart can be obtained at newspaper kiosks all around the city. Just look for a sign with Akbil or Akbil Dolum Noktasi. An Istanbulkart costs 10 TL. Once bought, the card can be loaded with as much money as one desires. This operation can be made in either at a kiosk or a fare machine. Most major transportation hubs have these machines, however keep in mind that the fare machines only accept paper money and do not return change. If one inserts a 50 TL banknote into the machine, it will load 50 TL on the card.
How to pay for transportation?
In order to ride an IETT bus, one must either use an akbil (Istanbulkart) or have a ticket (bilet). Tickets can be bought from white fiber booths at major bus stops, general shops (look for IETT otobüs satilir) or from private sellers around the bus stops.
The latter will be slightly more expensive. Be warned that private buses do not accept these tickets, however one can by cash. Just hand the conductor the exact fee (2 Turkish liras) and hop on. Most buses also accept akbil.
What bus to take?
Most buses work from 06:00 until 23:00. Major bus stops, such as Taksim Square, have route maps of different lines, however the best way to find out what bus one needs is to check the IETT website.