The history of public transport in Istanbul originates from the creation of a network of horses in the late 19th century. August 30, 1869 Constantine Krepano Efendi concluded with the authorities of the Ottoman Empire a contract for the maintenance of his company “Société des Tramways de Constantinople” public transport in Istanbul for a period of 40 years. The first coaches started to run in 1871 on four lines: Azazkapi – Galata, Aksaray – Yedikule, Aksaray – Topkapi and Eminonyu – Aksaray. When using the horse, a meter track was used. In 1912 the horse was forced to stop the movement for a year in connection with the mobilization of all horses for the needs of the army during the first Balkan war.

On February 2, 1914, an electric tram was launched. Electrification was carried out by an air contact wire. On the Asian side, the tram began to run on June 8, 1928 on the line of Uskudar – Kisikli. By the fifties of the XX century, the length of both networks reached 150 kilometers.

July 30, 1871, simultaneously with the construction of the horse on the European side, began the construction of the Tunnel – the line of the underground funicular. The movement was launched on December 5, 1874 and on January 17, 1875 the Tunnel opened to passengers and became the second metro in the world. Only in 1896 in the continental Europe opened an electric subway in Budapest, selecting the palm tree of the 573-meter line on horsepower. The tunnel was electrified only in 1910.

The railway transport of Istanbul is represented by 4 lines of the underground, 2 lines of the funicular, 2 lines of an old tram, 2 lines of a modern tram and city electric lines.

Istanbul Metro – a network of out-of-town urban rail transport – consists of 4 lines, with 62 stations. Three lines: M1, M2 and M3 – are located on the European shore, and M4 serves the Anatolian coast. Lines M1 and M3 have branches, and on line M2 a shuttle operates from the Sanayi Mahallesi station to the Seyrantepa arena.

The suburban rail service was established in 1872 on the European side from Sirkeci Station to Hadymköy. In Anatolia, a suburban service was organized in 1873 from Haydarpasha Station to Izmit. These two lines served almost without changes urban and suburban transportation until recently. In 2013, both lines were closed for reconstruction in connection with the construction of the Marmaray tunnel under the Bosphorus.

Organized transportation through the Bosphorus by ferries was opened in 1851 by the decree of Sultan Abdul-Majid I. Prior to this, passengers were transported by private ferries. Since 1853, shipments have been made by wheeled steamers purchased in England. Since 1904 the transition to screw steamers has begun. In 1867 on the route Kabatash-Uskudar the world’s first ferry was launched, running according to the schedule. All ferries were nationalized in 1945.

The bus service in Istanbul was opened in 1926 on the Beyazit – Karakoy line on the European shore.

On May 27, 1961, a trolley bus line was opened in Istanbul on the Topkapi-Eminonyu route. For some time the trolleybus network grew simultaneously with the reduction of the tramway, but later the trolleybus in Istanbul was also closed.

Until 2013, the city operated 2 lines of the city electric train. Line B1 of Sirkeci – Halkali on the European shore and B2 Haydarpasha – Gebze in Anatolia. However, in connection with the construction of the Marmaray tunnel under the Bosphorus and the capital renewal of the railway infrastructure, since March 1st, 2013, the B1 route on the European coast has been reduced and covers only the Sirkeci-Edikule section, and since June 19 of that year the whole route B2 on the Asian coast has been canceled. The announced deadline for closing traffic is 24 months.

On October 29th, 2013, the movement of trains began on the Marmaray tunnel. It is the first railway tunnel under the Bosphorus, connecting Asia and Europe. The tunnel was opened on the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan became the first passenger of the train.The railway tunnel, connecting the European and Asian parts of Istanbul, was tested in August 2013. Its length is 13.6 km, the maximum depth is 56 m. The completion of the tunnel construction was postponed many times. Nevertheless, it was the first mega-project completed in Istanbul. The tunnel is part of a larger project – “Marmarae” – worth $ 5 billion, which includes upgrading the existing suburban railway system. According to the government’s plans, the lines of 76 km long will be used by 1.5 million people daily. Meanwhile, the interval of trains running under the Bosphorus is 2 minutes, the tunnel capacity is 75 thousand passengers a day. The construction of the tunnel began in 2004. The financing was provided by the Japanese-Turkish consortium, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the European Investment Bank (EIB). For the first time the idea of building a tunnel was proposed by the sultan of the Ottoman Empire Abdul-Majid in the 19th century.

As soon as you arrive in the city, you are recommended to buy an Istanbul Card (Istanbulkart in Turkish) in one of the automatic machines. In Istanbul, there is a single electronic card for payment of travel by bus, funicular, metro, tram, suburban trains and ferries. The system uses RFID tags. Cheaper than the single journey ticket (jeton), you can top up the card with any amount of money you want. Istanbulkart costs 20 TL. Most of the places and tourist attractions in Istanbul can be reached by public transport, especially by tram, metro, boats and funicular. Buses can be a bit complicated to use there.

If you need to use Taxi, make sure the meter is on and don’t accept flat rates to go to the tourists attractions. For sure they will charge you far more than it´s worth. Also from Ataturk airport you can reach the city using public transportation. Bus shuttle to/from both airports to city centre are offered by Havatas.


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