Introduction of special travel passes for Istanbul


The transportation pass, Istanbulkart, in Turkey’s most populous city Istanbul has devised special plans and alternatives for travellers visiting from abroad. Tourists visiting the metropolis can buy an Istanbul City Card for any and all of their transportation options starting from October.

According to the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB), there have been six news designs and the pass will enable any transportation for visitors from abroad around one of the most visited cities from across the world. Along with the cards will be a ‘guide kit’ and popular routes around the city of Istanbul, a statement released by IBB confirmed.

Types of cards available

There will be two types of cards, with different options of pass. One of these provides the holder with unlimited daily passes with timescales ranging from one day to fifteen days, and gives the holder access to buses for sightseeing, known as “hop-on, hop-off” buses. These cards are going to be available across Istanbul at more than 30 locations to buy, and since these are for tourists, they will be at locations frequented by foreign travellers; the cards will be available to buy through electronic vending machines.

IBB also said that more options will be added soon to the Istanbul City Card, including further access to municipality-operated museums, and Bosphorus commodities such as the ferry lines passing between both sides of the city, and ships for sightseeing.

Traffic and overpriced taxis

The best way to avoid traffic within the city is by using the Istanbulkart. The cards will cover most of the mass modes of transportation including the trams that are operated around one of the most visited places in Istanbul, Sultanahmet Square, which is home to Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque as well as Basilica Cistern, which is located close to the Grand Bazaar.

Increasing fees and prices

This year’s first increase in public transport fees came in February, imposed by the city, with increases of 92% of purchases of all cards. Furthermore, there was an increase in April from TL 5.48 to TL 7.67. These price hikes were defended by the municipality, who released a written statement on their website; they cited the rises in price of the cards because of the global chip shortage, current economic circumstances and fluctuations in foreign currencies.

Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu pledged during his election that he would decrease the transit fees for public transport. During a speech, Imamoglu said he would decrease the fees to “symbolic prices”, and that more than 15 million people would have transport made cheaper.

Additional benefits

The Istanbulkart allows the public and tourists smoother travel though the complex maze of roads. A mobile app was also introduced by the municipality to allow users to add electronic credit to their passes and use contactless payment when boarding transport using a QR code. The passes can also serve as pre-paid debit cards for buying goods in particular venues, such as supermarkets.


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