Istanbul has for many years been struggling with traffic. Traffic jams, fully crowded roads, and crowded public transport added to a population that keeps growing making it problematic for the inhabitants.
According to a report by TomTom, it takes 20 minutes and 40 seconds on average to travel ten kilometers in Istanbul. The busiest time is 6. p.m on weekdays with an average of 30 minutes per ten kilometers. This has been a problem in recent years in Istanbul. According to the World Design Organization there are a few different reasons why the traffic is the way it is in Istanbul. The biggest reason being the fast-growing population in the city. The other reason is that the city was not created with modern transport in mind, and the infrastructure was unable to keep up with the demands of a growing population.
As the city keeps growing this issue will not be going away if nothing is done by the government and by the people of Istanbul. “Now every hour seems to be the busiest hour. People are forced to drive more slowly. We need urgent action,” says Mustafa Ilıcalı, a professor at Istanbul Commerce University Transportation Center. Ilıcalı has some ideas on how to change the current situation. “We need metro lines with more passenger capacity, another important measure is gradual working hours. People commute to work at the same time. If we cannot change that, traffic will get worse,” says the professor.
Mustafa Aksoy is from Istanbul and he has been working as a taxi driver for 45 years. He believes that Istanbul has a traffic issue, “This is a big problem for Istanbul, there are too many cars and too many people in this city. People do not respect the traffic rules either, especially the buses. The working times, in the morning and evening, are the worst. A lot of people live for example on the Asian side and work on the European side,” says the seasoned taxi driver.
Aksoy also believes that the growing population in the city is a problem for transportation as it makes everything more crowded. “Over 20 million people, two continents in one city, too many cars, this makes it very hard for transportation,” he says. According to the official figures of the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK), are there more than 4.5 million vehicles in Istanbul, which is one of the highest numbers in the world.
The solution to this is not something Aksoy has a direct answer to but he does not want the population to grow any more in the city. “To get more roads, busses or metros will not be the solution. All the roads are full, and every bus and metro is very crowded. We need to be fewer people to make it work better,” says he.
Yara is a 21-year-old student that has been living in Istanbul for the last two years. She usually only takes the metro to get around in the city and to school in Istanbul. “The traffic during rush hours can be very slow and the metro is more convenient,” she says. In April a new metro line opened in the city between Başakşehir and Kayaşehir, which means the rail network of Istanbul now has reached 325,5 kilometers. “I hope they continue to make the metro lines more and get more capacity, now the metro can get very crowded,” says Yara.
She also mentions that the heavy traffic in the city is bad for the environment, “It is not something people really talk much about in Turkey but the pollution is a very big issue that comes with traffic problems,” says the student. Traffic is one of the main causes of pollution in the world, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 7 million people in the world are at risk of premature death due to pollution.
Ahmet Yılmaz, 53, is from Istanbul and he also thinks that the traffic has worsened over time with the growing population and that he works from home as much as he can to save time. “During covid, it was better when people work from home but now it is bad again. I mean I have got used to it but sometimes the traffic is crazy, when the traffic is very slow it also takes more petrol so it is more expensive. I do not expect anything to be done by the government” says Yılmaz. According to a report by TomTom about traffic in Istanbul during 2022 could people save 39 hours per ten kilometers every year by working from home just one day per week.