Interview: Mümin Kahveci
How can further investment and cooperation between the public and private sectors help improve urban transport infrastructure?
MÜMIN KAHVECİ: The public transportation needs of Istanbul are rising in line with population growth. Congestion in Istanbul has become an enormous challenge; in the past decade we have seen the number of cars on the streets increase drastically. The scale of inner urban traffic does not match the Ottoman structure of the city’s core and its self-contained neighbourhoods, which have narrow streets and few parking spaces.
The public transportation system has difficulties keeping pace with rapid growth and the changing urban structure. That said, it must be noted that the government has been proactive in introducing new infrastructure projects to alleviate congestion, including the third bridge, a third airport, the Marmaray train and the Eurasia Tunnel high-speed rail system.
One of IETT’s major goals is to decrease dependence on what is called “rubber-wheeled traffic”, or passenger cars, through public and private partnership projects like the expansion of bus and metrobus routes. Privately owned mini-bus firms already operate in partnership with IETT and play a key role in areas that are not covered by other means of public transportation. IETT is active in promoting greater regulation for private buses and we work closely with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality to increase rail links, metro links and bus links with privately owned bus companies.
What is the IETT doing to address Istanbul’s congested roads and promote the shift from individual vehicle usage to mass urban transport?
KAHVECİ: The IETT recently announced a partnership with the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey to increase capacity on the metrobus system. The partnership will have two phases; the first phase will consist of an analysis of the metrobus system and provide recommendations for improvements that can increase the number of buses on the line. In the second stage, bus stops will be examined for passenger and vehicle details, with the aim of achieving a more efficient and comfortable transport method. Our aim is to study every passenger line that is active in Istanbul. This will help us improve the system, increase efficiency and optimise our routes.
The IETT is working toward a more integrated public transportation network, with rail, metro, taxis and private buses. We are adding new routes and recent examples include a new connection to the Marmaray. We are also investing into new and efficient technology, with GPS/GPRS tracking systems that can provide us with data to minimise or even avoid congestion.
What new and eco-friendly technologies do you intend to deploy in upcoming years?
KAHVECİ: The IETT is planning to ensure that by 2019 25% of the transport fleet will be using electricity and 30% will be using compressed natural gas (CNG). We have already started renewing our fleet, with 1800 new vehicles, while about 3000 public buses and other public transportation vehicles have been renewed. Some 360 vehicles currently in operation use CNG and these vehicles consume less fuel, are more environmentally friendly and produce less noise. However, the bridges of Istanbul are a problem, as it is not possible to establish an electric vehicle system using the bridges’ catenaries, so we are seeking multinational partners to transfer technology that fit Istanbul’s conditions.
How can transportation be made more affordable?
KAHVECİ: Fares are supervised and regulated by municipal and state authorities. There are several discount initiatives in place to help students, retirees and people with disabilities. However, an integrated transport system between metrobuses, taxis, rail and metro will improve cost efficiency. There is stronger demand for infrastructure that can help reduce fuel consumption and eco-friendly solutions and infrastructure will reduce transport costs and be sustainable for the long term.
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