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City Transport, Istanbul

 Public transportation in Istanbul varies greatly. Municipality buses (IETT), public buses, inner city and general ships, car ferries, the tunnel, metro and suburban train systems all vary in price and have either tokens or ticket fares to pay. If your decision lies with living in Istanbul, it is essential that you obtain an Istanbulkart - Istanbul Card (former Akbil), smart electronic card where you can use for all public transport.

Istanbul Card
Istanbul Card (Istanbulkart) is an eletronic card with a refillable chip. It is possible to buy your Istanbulkart at major bus stops for about 6 TL and have it filled to the amount you desire. There are Istanbulkart filling stations around all major bus stops, ports and Tünel. Your Akbil is valid on all buses, ships, sea buses, metro and tunnel systems. It gets you different discounts from 10-25% on all transport listed above.Please note that  IETT bus drivers (accustomed to use their Istanbulkart for passengers who do not have one. This implementation was now cancelled and passengers should purchase Istanbulkart with limited usage beforehand. The mentioned tickets can be purchased at IETT Electronic Ticket dealers or automatic sales machines throughout the city.

Taxi (Taksi)
Taxis are numerous in all Turkish cities and are recognizable by their yellow color and word "taksi" on top of the car. All taxis have the letter T in their license plates. The fare shown on the meter reads according to distance traveled. The rates for day and night are same. The meter starts at 2.7 TL, and 1.73 TL per kilometer. (As of December 17,  2011). Please note that the passenger pay the crossing fee of the Bosphorus bridges whether destining to European or Asian side.
Here are a few useful sayings that might come in handy: Turn off the music - müziği kapatın, Close the window - camı kapatın, Open the window - camı açın, Stop here - burada durun, Left - sol, Right - sağ, Turn on the meter - taksimetreyi çalıştırın, Wait please - lütfen bekleyin, Wait here - burada bekleyin,

Dolmus (Dolmuş)
Dolmus is a special service found only in Turkey. This is a collective taxi, which follows specific routes. It may be a car or a minibus. Each passenger pays according to distance traveled and can get off at specific or requested stops. In order to get off, the passenger need only say, "inecek var" meaning "someone to get off here" and the dolmus stops. This is a very practical means of transportation and much cheaper than a taxi. You pay the fee to the driver. Prices differ depending on distance traveled. They usually have a sign in the lower or upper right-hand corner of their windshield that specifies the direction to which they will be traveling. The relatively cheap prices are set by the municipality and displayed somewhere visible within the vehicle.

Bus (Otobüs)
There are two types of bus lines in Istanbul.
- One is run by the municipality, Belediye Otobüsü, these busses are red, green and lilac or covered with colorful advertisements. On these buses you can use your Akbil, special discount cards or tickets that you can buy around any major bus stop.
- The second type of bus is privately run, Halk Otobüsü,  blue and again, allowing you to use your Akbil, special discount cards or, in this case, money. Tickets are not welcome on these buses but the price is the same.
On some of the more lengthy destinations the double-decker buses can pleasantly surprise you. These buses require 3 tickets if passing over the Bosphorus bridge and 2 for other regular destinations. The green colored double-deckers are privately owned thus require cash payment and not tickets. However your Akbil is valid on these buses, as well.

Long hybrid buses are running on special lanes separated from other traffic. The line is between Avcılar and Kadıköy (Sögütlüçeşme) and offers the public a faster and efficient transportation. It runs between 06:00 and midnight. 

Metro (Metro, Hafif Metro)
It is quite unfortunate that Istanbul, a city with a population of 10 million is home to one of the most inadequate metro lines. There are three lines presently; one stretching from Kabataş to Eminönüand to Zeytinburnu via Aksaray and another line from Aksaray to Atatürk International Airport via Yenibosna, passing through Otogar. The last line is a real under ground system and connects Şişhane, Taksim, Osmanbey, Şişli-Mecidiyeköy, Gayrettepe, Levent, 4.Levent, Sanayi, Seyrantepe, İTÜ-Ayazağa, Atatürk Oto Sanayi, Darüşşafaka, Seyrantepe-Stadyum and Hacıosman. Your Akbil is valid here. It is possible to obtain a discount metro card from any of the metro stations. Click for the latest map.

Tunnel (Tünel)
It is the easiest way to get from Karaköy to Beyoğlu, instead of climbing the steep streets. The coaches were pulled by horses when it was first opened to the public in 1875 but today it is pulled by electricity. The Tünel tokens can be bought at any of the Tünel entrances while you can also use your Akbil. It is a common joke for foreigners to wait for the non-existent second stop of the Tünel Coach since the ride seems to promise more than the short trip up or down. mymerhaba.com would strongly suggest that you take your time one day and walk down (not up!) the famous Yüksek Kaldırım Street (High Pavement Street) that ties Karaköy to Beyoğlu; it is an unforgettable experience. Tünel is open every day from 07.00 to 22.45 (Sundays from 07:30 to 22:45).

Tramway (Tramvay)
The Istiklal Street (or Pera as it was once known) between Taksim and Tünel, is closed to traffic, making the only way of transportation the old trams. You may acquire a tram ticket before you board or ask the conductor "nicely" to let you buy one where you embark. You may use your Akbil but keep in mind that there is almost no difference between the amount of time it takes to walk briskly or take a tram.

Another tramway line is between Kabataş and Zeytinburnu. This 14 km line provides fast and comfortable transport. This line was extended to Bağcılar with its Zeytinburnu-Bağcılar and makes connection to the light rail (Hafif Metro) system at Zeytinburnu and Aksaray stations.

Taksım – Kabataş funicular railway system links Zeytinburnu-Kabataş tram and the Kabataş ferry docks to Taksim-4 Levent metro. Sea busses and ferries sail from Kabataş to Kadıköy, Üsküdar and Princes' Islands. Busses run from Kabataş to Mecidiyeköy and the Bosphrorus. The tram provides transportation from Kabataş to Eminönüand Aksaray. You can use your Akbil, special discount cards or can purchase tokens.

Ferry (Vapur)
The ships in Istanbul travel from one side of the Bosphorus to the other or to distant points on the same side. Please bear in mind that prices for tokens vary for the Princes' Islands ships or Bosphorus cruises.

Motorboat (Motor)
These are small to medium sized boats that travel between short distances such as Kadıköy-Eminönü-Kadıköy, Beşiktaş-Üsküdar-Beşiktaş, Karaköy-Üsküdar-Karaköy. They are reminiscent of the Dolmuş at sea and payment is made to the captain's assistant after you board. They can be found next to ship ports.

Ferry Car (Araba Vapuru)
The car ferries that travel between Sirkeci - Harem (every day) can be a breath of fresh air for the driver tired of rush hour traffic. Tickets can be purchased before boarding. There are a number of car ferries that leave Istanbul and travel to other city ports.

Sea Bus (Deniz Otobüsü)
The fastest way to travel in the city. It is ideal if you need to bridge distant destinations such as Bostancı-Bakırköy, or Kadıköy-Sarıyer. There are, again, many that go to other city ports and to the Islands. You can purchase tokens at the sea bus ports or use your Akbil for discount.

Sea Taxi (Deniz Taksi)
Sea Taxi is operating  24 hours a day. Istanbulites can board on sea taxies at 27 points along the Bosphorus as well as from Princes' Islands and some ports on the Asian side. The capacity is maximum 10 people and the fee can be either paid in cash or with credit card. Daytime and night rates vary.

Suburban Train (Banliyö Treni)
There are suburban trains traveling from Sirkeci on the European and from Haydarpaşa on the Anatolian side. They can be an alternative when traffic is an issue but it is best to remember that since these trains are the most affordable way to travel longer distances, they can be extremely crowded, dirty and not very preferable. Tickets can be bought at the station. Monthly discount cards are also available. You can also use your Akbil at the trains. Please note that due to the railway construction suitable to high-speed trains there will be no suburban trains running between Haydarpaşa and Pendik as of June 19, 2013. The construction is planned to end in two years. The number buses running at existing IETT lines will be increased.

For the website of Istanbul transportation website of the Municipality please click

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