Momentum for Change Istanbul BRT system

Focus area: Mitigation
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Established: 03 March 2009

Istanbul innovative and 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 metrobus serving the world 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 objective was to provide high quality BRT service that reduces travel time; is easily accessible for pedestrians and the physically challenged; is reliable and so pleasant that people will use the service not because they have to, but because they want to.

The system was designed to provide for easy transfers through integration with the planned and existing public transport network. Park and ride facilities are established at 4 major stations to attract car owners.

The BRT line eased traffic congestion, reduced travel times and decreased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Crossing the bridge by car used to take 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.

Mitigation / Adaptation

Social and environmental benefits

Potential for scaling-up and replication

The Istanbul BRT system is providing quality service and time savings to over 600,000 passengers per day. The local BRT system brings about a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 623 tons per day in through modal shift.

Key pollutants that Istanbul's Metrobus removes from the air each year include 78.5 tons of carbon monoxide, 282.7 tons of nitrogen oxide, 7.3 tons of fine particulate matter and 25 tons of hydrocarbons.

Overall, 250 Metrobuses carry more than one million passengers a day. From the outset, riders only had to wait 70 seconds for the next Metrobus on certain routes during rush hour, but now they need wait only 30 seconds. Thus, for riders, the length of their daily commute on public transport has been reduced to a maximum of 40 minutes compared to an hour and a half in the past. This has reduced in-vehicle travel time by about 50 per cent and increased use of public transport helping to improve the quality of life for the people of Istanbul. Metrobus has also helped to relieve traffic congestion on main arteries by introducing a dedicated bus lane.

To ensure high frequency, reduced travel time and passenger safety, the authorities decided on completely segregated bus lanes that never merge with regular traffic. Special signs have been installed along the way to tell drivers how fast they can drive. There are also directions indicating when to brake slowly and carefully to ensure maximum rider comfort.

Overall the benefits to the community are as follows:
Savings on Travel Time (Per passanger): 52 min. a day; 316 hrs. a year
Savings on Vehicle used (Removed from service): 133 İETT, 76 POB, 1.296 MINIBUS
Fuel Savings on Public Transportation: 242 tones fuel
Environment: Reduction of 80.000 vehicles from roads; Daily 623 tones CO2 reduction
Customer Satisfaction: 90 per cent Customer Satisfaction.

Istanbul first BRT project was a pilot located in the median of the D‐100 motorway, the main East ‐West passage in Istanbul. With the pilot proving to be a success, the city decided to create a major East‐West public transport corridor stretching 50 km along the D‐100 motorway. And they decided that it should be a BRT corridor. In 2009 operations began on the Asian expansion. The 43 km system, which operates 24 hours/day, is operating at or above capacity from 7 in the morning till 8 at night during weekdays with time savings exceeding 1 hour/direction. Construction of the 10 km westward expansion into Beylikduzu is began in 2011 and is anticipated to carry 175000 passengers, in addition to the 600,000 passengers the corridor was already carrying. Subsequent plans are for the network to be expanded throughout the city with the addition of 5 more corridors.

Success of the BRT has helped bring about a mindset change in the thinking around urban transport. As a result, the city is shifting its investment away from road infrastructure development to expanding its public transport system. In addition to the D‐100 corridor, the plans are in place to create a BRT network integrated into the existing and planned rail and ferry infrastructure, and which extends throughout the city. Where a full‐blown BRT system is not feasible, dedicated bus lanes are being developed.